BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — An Arizona House panel voted seven to four in favour of a measure that would allow businesses to bar transgender people from using facilities that accord with their gender identity, The Washington Post reports.
The crowd witnessing the vote broke into chants of "shame, shame, shame." Republican John Kavanagh, who spearheaded the measure, was backed by the other six Republicans on the panel, while all the Democrats voted against advancing the bill, which will head to the full House for deliberation.
The bill is described as a watered-down version of the original measure, which would have made it a criminal offence for transgender people to use facilities that do not match the genders on their birth certificates.
The bill was amended after widespread condemnation, but approximately 200 opponents attended the almost seven-hour hearing to register their disapproval.
According to The Post, Kavanagh's measure comes on the heels of a Phoenix ordinance that social conservatives say blocks businesses from "keeping transgender people out of locker rooms, showers and bathrooms." Kavanagh reportedly said the ordinance would "subject businesses to criminal charges and expose little children to 'naked men in women’s locker rooms and showers.'"
Democrat Stefanie Mach called Kavanagh's bill "an embarrassment to our state.”
“Search as you might there is not enough evidence that there is any risk in allowing a person to use a restroom of their choice,” The Post quotes Tucson resident Claire Swinford, who is transgender, as saying. Being dressed as a woman puts her at physical risk of being attacked by a man while trying to use a men’s restroom, she said.
"What your bill attempts to do is sacrifice my personal safety for somebody else’s sense of discomfort.”
Another Tucson resident, Maureen Robinson, said it was silly to prevent transgender people from using bathrooms of their preference.
“It has been a non-issue, it will continue to be a non-issue, unless this bill becomes law,” Robinson said.
Landing image: azpm.org