Members of the Maryland state Senate today voted to return a “Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination” proposal that originally could have created coed showers in public facilities across the state to a committee, a legislative maneuver on the last day of the 2011 legislature that ended its chances for this year.
The 27-20 vote in the legislative body was on H.B. 235, which had been approved days earlier by committee on the judiciary on a 7-4 vote.
The decision was the second recent victory for traditional morality in the state, with the earlier vote by lawmakers against approval of same-sex “marriages.”
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Officials with the National Gay and Lesbian Task force lamented the decision.
Executive Director Rea Cary accused the members of the Senate of turning their backs “on an opportunity to recognize and affirm our common humanity.” Activists for the gender bill already had reduced its impact by making it apply only to credit, housing and jobs.
Originally, the strategy would have included gender identity nondiscrimination in “public facilities,” which would have included locker rooms, restrooms, bath houses, club houses and dressing rooms.
Regina Griggs, who has worked with transgender issues as part of her work at the organization Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays, said it’s called Gender Identity Disorder for a reason – it’s a disorder.
The opposition to the bill had been raised by a citizens group that unsuccessfully fought a Montgomery County, Md., plan to create “coed showers” by protecting cross-dressing possible sex offenders who gain access to women’s locker rooms by alleging they are “transgendered.”
The state’s HB 235 would prohibit discrimination based on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” with regard to housing, leasing property and in credit.
Officials with the NotMyShower.com website, who organized when Montgomery County was considering its own plan in 2007 and 2008, said there were a number of problems with the idea.
First, it would force “individuals, employers, religious institutions, roommates, schools and public accommodation facilities to ignore reality and disregard a person’s legitimate ‘assigned sex at birth.'”
“In Montgomery County, women were afraid and outraged when a man in a blue dress went into female locker areas in a health club,” the organization explained.
The NotMyShower website, run by the group Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government, said classifying a daily choice – to appear as which gender – the same as the immutable race characteristic fails to serve the state’s residents.
The coalition explained that even Johns Hopkins Hospital stopped sex reassignment surgeries because the procedures did not cure Gender Identity Disorder, but HB 235 “enforces ideology over opinions of respected medical professionals and the needs and concerns of the public.”
The coalition warned that since schools and day care centers are not exempted, there will be unexpected impacts on children who are in the trust of “transgender” or “cross-dressing” teachers.
“In Montgomery County, children are
taught that transgenderism is doing anything outside of the gender norm and that one can change their body to match
the way they feel. There is no mention of the risk of steroids, that gender identity confusion is a disorder, or that some
transsexuals regret their decision. No one has studied the effect on a child’s developing gender identity of having a
kindergarten teacher begin the school year as a male and end as a female. HB235 plays Russian roulette with
vulnerable children,” the organization said.
The proposal also would have taken away “the freedom of Marylanders to disagree with those who cannot accept their gender, mandates acceptance of ideology” and other complications, the coalition worried.
While the legislation would ban “discrimination” against cross-dressers and others, employers would have no way to knowing what they could do.
“‘Appearance’ could even change from hour to hour during the work day. Gender Identity can change at will. Gender Identity is not an immutable class like other protected classes such as race or sex. … With HB 235, your employee can be Molly in the morning and Mark in the evening. The bill gives no restriction,” it warned.
Companies originally even could be banned from asking questions of an employee if there are worries about men and women sharing dressing areas or “if a customer has privacy concerns, for example, about male employees dressed as females monitoring female dressing rooms.”
Such problems already have erupted in Montgomery County, where the county board led the social experimentation by making the change to county rules several years ago.
“Dana Beyer, a transsexual woman who ‘helped craft’
the 2008 Montgomery County Gender Identity Legislation … promptly filed a $5 million lawsuit
against the county under its new Gender Identity antidiscrimination law. Even the use of simple pronouns such as ‘he’ or ‘she’
can be fraught with danger under these circumstances. Since the bill fails to contain a clear statement that ‘it is not discrimination to
use pronouns reflecting birth sex’ or a freedom of conscience exemption, it acts as a reverse discrimination bill which takes away the
freedom of Marylanders to recognize biology as fact,” the coalition explained.