NEWS RELEASE: Transgender Discrimination Bill to get hearing Tuesday morning

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Posted on March 16, 2015 - 5:02pm by Brittany.

Transgender Discrimination Bill to be heard again early Tuesday

Opponents and proponents are in both in town to lobby legislators

(March A bill that would discriminate against transgender Floridians and force employers and business-owners to police the use of their restrooms will get a second committee hearing in the Florida House on Tuesday morning.

The Government Operations Subcommittee will meet at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Webster Hall (212 Knott). H.B. 583 is the second item on the agenda.

As it happens, scores of citizen lobbyists from both Equality Florida, which strongly opposes the bill, and from other organizations that have historically supported anti-LGBT discrimination are in Tallahassee meeting with legislators today and Tuesday. Both groups are expected to attend Tuesday morning’s hearing.

The bill has already been reported favorably by the Civil Justice Subcommittee, although one member who supported it suggested that the bill would need a number of revisions. The version to be considered Tuesday, however, does not appear to be substantially different from the one that was approved on March 4.

Bill sponsor Frank Artiles, R-Miami-Dade, claims the bill is a matter of public safety. He wants to make it a crime for transgender people to use single-sex facilities that do not conform to their birth-gender or state-issued identification cards.

Gina Duncan, Director of Transgender Inclusion for Equality Florida, calls the bill “dehumanizing.”

“This bill invents a problem that simply doesn’t exist,” she said. “Transgender people need to use the restroom the same as anyone. If anything, we want and need to be protected from undue attention and harassment -- not be told we’re committing a crime if someone thinks we’re in the wrong place.”

Artiles’s bill also would penalize businesses, schools and governments that do not police their single-sex facilities sufficiently. A person who is offended by someone they believe is the opposite sex could sue both the other person and the owner of the facility for monetary damages.

“This poorly written bill is a lawsuit factory,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida.

“How could it possibly be enforced except as an invitation to harass people in the bathroom -- with a financial incentive attached!”

“Fears that transgender protections somehow pose a public safety risk are simply unfounded,” said Carlos Guillermo Smith, Equality Florida’s public policy specialist.

“More than 50 percent of Florida’s population -- more than 10-million Floridians -- are already covered by local policies that ban discrimination. And no adverse incidents have been reported. Nor have they in the 18 states and hundreds of municipalities across the country that have non-discrimination policies in place,” he said.

“Transgender people are a part of everyday American life. Instead of ostracizing or bullying them, our communities should embrace all people and ensure that they can be safe, be themselves, and live their daily lives without harassment.”

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