Transgender Proof Plan Draws Critics

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), October 19, 2005 | Go to article overview

Transgender Proof Plan Draws Critics


Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard

CORRECTION (ran 10/24/05): Toby Hill-Meyer identifies as neither exclusively male or female, but prefers female pronouns if a pronoun must be used. A story on Page D1 of Wednesday's paper, about gender identity protection under consideration by the Eugene Human Rights Commission, used incorrect pronouns in reference to Hill-Meyer.

Requiring transgender people to show documentation in order to use public bathrooms and showers would create more problems than it would solve, a half-dozen people told the Eugene Human Rights Commission on Tuesday night.

Such documentation is discriminatory "and smacks of Big Brother," said Judy Moseley, a member of the Lane County Human Rights Committee. "Who's going to ask for the documentation, and who's it going to be asked of?"

The perception that many transgender people are sexual predators is a harmful myth that speaks to the need for a law protecting them from discrimination, added Amy Bustin, community education coordinator for Sexual Assault Support Services, a local nonprofit agency.

"Trans and gender-variant people are more likely to be victims of violence, including sexual assault and often murder, rather than perpetrators," Bustin said.

The testimony comes as the city human rights panel pushes to have Eugene join 79 other cities, counties and states across the country that already have added gender identity to the list of "classes" protected from discrimination in public employment, housing and accommo- dations.

Commissioners are united in their support for such a law; the sticking point is whether it should include a requirement that people claiming to be of a certain gender show proof - such as a driver's license or therapist's letter - that they really are that gender. A person's genitalia would not necessarily reflect that gender.

Earlier this year, a Gender Identity Work Group unanimously recommended that revisions to the city's human rights code include allowing people to enter whichever public bathroom, locker room or shower they regard as "most appropriate" for them.

But a handful of critics, including some transgender women, say it's appropriate to require documentation - in the interests of protecting women and children from being exposed to male genitalia in female-oriented public spaces.

Similar concerns surfaced in 2002, when the City Council approved revisions to the human rights code but dropped language relating to transgender rights in the face of a threatened veto by then-Mayor Jim Torrey.

Rebecca Taylor, a transgender woman, submitted signatures from 28 women - three transgender and 25 straight - who she said support the idea of requiring documentation. …

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