By John Aman
MIAMI, Fla. – A well-organized coalition of pro-family and civic organizations in Miami-Dade soundly defeated a measure that would have given transsexuals access to public restrooms and locker rooms used by the opposite sex.
The Miami-Dade Commission gave initial approval in May to adding “gender identity and expression” to the county’s anti-discrimination law by an 11-1 vote but the measure stalled after intense lobbying by opponents – led by the local Christian Family Coalition.
Bill sponsors withdrew it on August 14 because they lacked the votes to get it through committee.
The victory in liberal Miami-Dade “is really landmark,” said Christian Family Coalition executive director Anthony Verdugo of the win 36 years after singer Anita Bryant led the successful repeal of Miami-Dade County’s homosexual rights law.
“When we caught wind of it, we had three weeks to organize,” said Verdugo. His team exhaustively researched the issue, developed a communications strategy and filled a hearing room with nearly 300 opponents when the commission took testimony on July 8.
The move is in the opposite direction to that which many cities, counties and states these days are moving.
The Miami-Dade campaigners developed a coalition of 17 Republican, Democrat, human rights and religious organizations and worked with numerous churches to educate and mobilize the opposition.
“Last Wednesday, August 14, to the glory of God, the sponsors publicly announced that they were withdrawing it.”
Verdugo called the result “historic” and “groundbreaking,” saying bill supporters “couldn’t even get to step two, because the opposition was so widespread, and it’s growing. ”
The other side isn’t giving up.
“We’re going to meet with commissioners again to make sure the support is there, and the education is there, as well,” SAVE Dade deputy director Maria Barth told the Miami Herald. “Our staff is completely committed to passing this ordinance.”
The fight in Miami-Dade is but one skirmish in efforts nationwide to give transsexuals – individuals who use surgery and hormonal treatments to try to present to the world that they are of a gender opposite of what they were born – special protections from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodations.
- Maryland’s Montgomery County approved legislation in 2007 that granted men access to women’s restrooms, and vice versa, in the name of “gender identity” and “anti-discrimination.” When enraged county residents collected 27,000 signatures on a petition seeking a referendum, county officials defeated the effort by persuading a court to change the number of signatures required after the deadline for those signatures had passed.
- Colorado adopted a “transgender nondiscrimination” bill in 2008 that makes it illegal to deny a person access to public accommodations, including restrooms and locker rooms, based on gender identity or the “perception” of gender identity. One consequence of the law is a ruling last month forcing authorities to permit six-year-old Coy Mathis – a boy who say he thinks he’s a girl – to use the girls bathroom at his elementary school.
- California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law August 12 that extends the transsexual agenda into public schools, mandating that schools give students access to gender-segregated facilities according to their “gender identity.” Opponents are gathering signatures to hold a referendum to repeal the law and need 500,000 signatures by November to get it on the 2014 ballot. Karen England of the Capital Resource Institute told WND the law is a direct assault on parental rights because it empowers schools to treat children who are sexually confused as members of the opposite sex without telling parents. “This is as far as they’ve (lawmakers) ever gone. This is the most extreme. Parents and teachers are absolutely outraged,” she said.
- Massachusetts now requires public schools to give “transgender” boys access to girls’ locker rooms, bathrooms, and changing facilities if boys “assert” that they’re now girls. “Some students may feel uncomfortable with a “transgender” student using the same sex-segregated restroom, locker room or changing facility,” the Massachusetts Department of Education admits in policy guidance to public schools released last February. But “this discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”
Nationwide, 17 states and the District of Columbia have embraced the transsexual agenda. Rhode Island added "gender identity and expression" to its anti-discrimination law in June with the support of Gov. Jack Markell, and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden announced his support in an Equality Delaware video.
But other attempts to advance the transsexual agenda were defeated this year in Montana, Missouri, North Dakota, and New York where state Senate leaders refused to allow a vote.
The Christian Family Coalition's opposition campaign included a poster showing a little girl cowering next to a wig-wearing man with a three-day stubble – a not-so-subtle reference to the threat that males who claim to be transsexuals will invade women's restrooms for ill purposes.
Transsexual-rights proponents scoff but numerous incidents suggest that concerns about men in women-only facilities are well-grounded.
- Portland police arrested a convicted sex offender in 2007 after witnesses observed him going into the women's locker room at the Mount Scott Community Center dressed as a woman. Little girls were changing into or out of swimming suits while he was in the locker room.
- Police at Evergreen State College in Washington were called last September after a 17-year-old girl observed a naked man in a women’s locker room which is frequented by girls as young as six. No action was taken against the 45-year-old man who calls himself Colleen Francis because state law bans discrimination against transsexuals. A local prosecutor refused to prosecute Francis for indecent exposure and the college said it could not ban him from the women's locker room. Francis complained that he was discriminated against because of initial efforts to force him to leave the facility. "This is not 1959 Alabama,” Francis said. “We don’t call the police for drinking from the wrong water foundation."
- This past April police cited Ally Robledo, a 25-year-old man who dresses as a woman, with trespassing and banned him for a year from a Lewiston, Idaho, grocery store, after he used the women's bathroom there on numerous occasions. "The store security officer said he had been dealing with a problem over a couple days with the person going into the women's restroom and urinating while standing up," Lewiston Police Captain Roger Lanier said. Store personnel reported to police that female customers had been made "very uncomfortable" by Robledo's presence in the restroom.
Bathroom laws represent the next legal frontier for transsexual advocates as they work to add "gender identity and expression" to local, state, and federal anti-discrimination laws.
The ultimate aim is to "do away with religious convictions, typically Christian convictions, so that we are no longer a Christian culture," said Janice Crouse, senior fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute at Concerned Women America.
"They want to change the culture and to do that they need to get rid of the Judeo-Christian culture of this nation and to destroy the foundation on which this country was founded."
It's a fight that has the solid backing of the Obama administration. Vice President Joe Biden calls the campaign to give transsexuals enhanced legal protection "the civil rights issue of our time." White House support for the transsexual agenda includes:
- President Obama signed the U.N. Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
- The White House hosted the first ever meeting with transgender activists
- The Department of State made it easier for transsexuals to change the sex indicated on passports
- The U.S. Justice Department sided in July with a transsexual individual in an employment discrimination suit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled for the first time last year that "gender identity or expression" in the workplace is protected under federal civil rights law.
- The Office of Personnel Management inserted "gender identity" for the first time into its federal workplace anti-discrimination policy
Transsexuals were jubilant after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December 2011 for a transsexual man in a job discrimination suit declaring that "discrimination against a transgender individual because of her gender non-conformity is sex discrimination whether it's described as being on the basis of sex or gender."
- The American Psychiatric Association removed "gender identity disorder" from its list of mental health ailments in late 2012, a move some saw lifting the stigma attached to transsexual behavior.
The CWA's Crouse said the APA "is the place where all these special agendas start."
Activists lobby the APA, she said, "to make sure that their agenda is regarded as normal behavior. … It's the normal route."
Many in the LGBT community also raved that a transsexual competed for the first time in the Miss Universe Canada pageant after 23-year-old Jenna Talackova waged a public campaign to persuade Miss Universe competition owner Donald Trump to alter policy limiting pageant events to women.
Talackova did not win the title but shared Miss Congeniality with three others.
Despite recent transsexual gains, Miami-Dade pro-family leader Anthony Verdugo thinks the movement can be stopped. He cited the defeat in the last two years of measures to add "transgender identity" to local laws in Anchorage, Alaska; Grand Island, Nebraska; Jacksonville, Florida; and Miami-Dade County to show it is possible.
"If we can do it in Miami Dade County," he said, "we can do it anywhere."
John Aman is a writer and communications consultant. He is the co-author of Team Obama: All the President's Real Men and Women. He's worked in Washington and also for one of the nation's largest Christian broadcast ministries.