General Public Shut out of Gender-Identity Discussion

Article excerpt

Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Nancy Hansen For The Register-Guard

Gender identity is a term with which few people are familiar. It's an innocuous-sounding phrase with a rather shocking definition. The term is used by the Eugene Human Rights Commission to describe a person's view of his or her own sex, not simply one's sex at birth.

The commission says that, among other things, it includes transgenderists, transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag kings and queens, and even gender variants who may not identify with either sex.

The city of Eugene is considering giving special minority status to this group. Gender identity would be on par with race, religion, color, sex, disability, etc. Anyone who discriminated against this group would be breaking the law and open to a lawsuit.

Last week, the Lane Gender Task Force, which spearheaded the effort to prepare a gender identity proposal, suddenly asked the Human Rights Commission to withdraw the proposal. The task force discovered that the public neither understood gender identity nor sympathized with the needs of the groups seeking protection. Indeed, a group of citizens was considering referring the proposal to the ballot if the City Council passed it.

The task force did a phone survey of Eugene voters and found it would need to mount an `aggressive education campaign' to convince the public to support special protection for gender identity. No longer was the City Council the only group targeted for lobbying; now it was the public.

In its current form, the gender identity proposal would extend special protection in public accommodations, employment and housing. Activists added language that gave people, regardless of biological sex, the freedom to decide which bathroom, locker room or shower room they felt most comfortable entering.

There would be special protection in employment, including the provision that the employee, not the employer, would decide which bathroom to use. Housing, including shelters, also would be protected, whether other clients objected or not.

It had not yet been determined what unique conundrums this would create for the Lane County jail. In other cities where this has been implemented, lawsuits regarding public accommodations, employment and housing have resulted.

According to the Human Rights Program, our education system would have to abide by the code. That would affect school bathrooms, locker rooms and shower rooms. Our children likely would be exposed to more instruct- ion and modeling in gender variance. …