Metro Weekly

Anti-trans bathroom referendum might reach California ballot

Ballot initiative would force transgender people to use bathroom of assigned sex at birth

“We have great compassion for any person that is uncomfortable in traditional, sex separated facilities. But we also want to protect the privacy that most of us expect when we are in public bathrooms, showers and dressing areas.”

Gender neutral toilet sign at department of sociology, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo credit: Flinga, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Gina Gleason, a proponent of a proposed ballot initiative in California known as the “Personal Privacy Protection Act” that could land on the 2016 ballot, as reported by Christian News Wire. If approved by voters, the act would require that all individuals use restroom and changing facilities in accordance with their biological sex in all government buildings. The act, which is a direct assault against members of the transgender community, would also prevent private businesses from being sued if they require employees and patrons to use the facilities that correspond to their sex at birth. According to the Los Angeles Times, the act would likely result in a slew of litigation, as it would allow any individual who felt their privacy had been violated by a transgender person entering a restroom or changing facility,  as well as those who chose not to enter any facility because a transgender person was inside, to sue that individual or the government entity where the facility is located for a minimum of $4,000.

In a manner reminiscent of the 2008 fight over Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, Privacy for All, the coalition made up of mostly socially conservative and religious groups who oppose LGBT rights, sprang into action after the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 1266, which allowed transgender students in California public schools to choose the bathroom, shower and locker room that corresponds to their correct gender identity. The law was put on hold when opponents gathered more than 620,000 voter signatures for a referendum aimed at repealing the law. The matter is currently being heard in the courts after state officials rejected more than one in every five signatures collected, thereby keeping the measure off the November 2014 ballot. Privacy for All hopes to resolve the court battle in their favor and place the initiative over AB 1266 on the 2016 ballot in the hope of repealing it, while at the same time voting to enact the Personal Privacy Protection Act. To place the latter initiative on the ballot, opponents of transgender rights will have to collect the signatures of 365,000 registered voters. 

Image: Gender neutral toilet sign at the Department of Sociology, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden. Photo credit: Flinga, via Wikimedia Commons.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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