Saturday, February 14, 2015

Florida State Rep. Frank Artiles uses sex offender panic to push anti-transsexual bathroom bill

Rep. Frank wants you to show him your penis. 
I know this whole transsexual issue has hit the news with that teen transsexual who killed herself here in Ohio where I live, and admittedly I haven't been keeping up with all these letter designations for sexuality (if we keep coming up with new gender identities we'll have to borrow letters from other languages). It is not my place to judge them and as far as I'm concerned, we're all deserving of equal rights. This is what I do know. If you use Predator Panic as the basis of passing any law, no matter who you are targeting, well, I will give you a new identity -- Shiitake Award Nominee. 

You know, this Artiles fellow has some very interesting thoughts. maybe we should be watching this guy very closely:


Florida’s Transphobic ‘Show Your Papers to Pee’ Bill is Bad for Everyone
by Steve Williams
February 13, 2015

One Florida Republican is making it his sworn duty to overturn local civil rights ordinances and stop trans people using the public restrooms that accord with their gender identity.

Florida State Rep. Frank Artiles (R) recently introduced H.B. 538, which to quote the bill summary, would:

Requires that use of single-sex facilities be restricted to persons of sex for which facility is designated; prohibits knowingly & willfully entering single-sex public facility designated for or restricted to persons of other biological sex; provides exemptions; provides private cause of action against violators; provides for preemption.

So in effect, if a trans person uses a public bathroom that accords with their gender identity and not their birth sex, they are liable under the law to a $1,000 fine. The legislation would also open up the trans person in question to a civil suit, and would make the owner of those public accommodations similarly liable.

Artiles claims the bill was inspired by what he perceives to be a “massive loophole” created by local trans rights ordinances like the one recently enacted by Miami-Dade County that simply and narrowly allows people to use the restroom that comports with their consistent gender expression. It is, of course, the old “sexual predators could prey on women and children” that Artiles clings to when he says, no, he is not anti-trans or trying to discriminate, but simply looking out for the public interest.

In a post on his own website, he says in part:

The goal of HB 583 is not to discriminate against any individual, but to ensure the public’s safety in Florida.  My main concern is that criminals, sexual predators, and sex offenders will hide behind the law in order to commit a crime due to the over broad, vague, and subjective language passed by some counties across the State.

[...]

“The reason for this bill is due to the Local county commission ordinance that allows MEN (who do not fall under any of the LGBT’s definitions) to enter a WOMENs bathroom, locker room and dressing room. It is disturbing for a woman to walk out of a gym shower and have a man staring at her. It is a matter of privacy/public safety and not intended to discriminate against transgender or transsexuals. However, criminals, sexual deviants, pedophiles and voyeurs will take advantage of the loop hole the local ordinance has created giving them protection under the law.”

One would imagine that if Rep. Artiles is so concerned about this problem, he must have several accounts of such abuses at hand, most notably because Gainseville has had these protections since 2008. Artiles has yet to point to a single incident anywhere where trans protections have directly allowed an abuse to take place — and it’s no wonder, because they are so infrequent that law enforcement officials tell us that they aren’t a concern at all.

In fact, experts from across 15 states have looked at statistics and confirmed for Media Matters that this just isn’t a problem and is unlikely to ever be a problem. They also point out that these ordinances do not change what is already law: people who are victims of physical and sexual assaults in public restrooms are protected and could bring criminal proceedings, and these ordinances do not change that fact.

But let’s not kid ourselves that this is just Rep. Artiles just being overly concerned about public welfare. Artiles displayed his ignorance of trans identity and the vague hint of transphobia when he told the Miami Herald (h/t Thinkprogress): ”A man such as myself can walk into the bathroom at LA Fitness while women are taking showers, changing, and simply walk in there. Someone can say, ‘What are you doing there?’ Under the ordinance, I don’t have to respond. It’s subjective. If I feel like a woman that day, I can be allowed to be in that locker room. I don’t know about you, but I find that disturbing.”

The legislation also has another disturbing aspect. Another look at the bill’s text and we see it contains language that wouldn’t just preclude trans people from using the public amenities that align with who they are, it implicitly sets a standard for what we consider male and female enough:

“Sex” means a person’s biological sex, either male or female, at birth. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “male” means a person born as a biological male and the term “female” means a person born as a biological female.

Currently, Florida state does allow for gender change recognition albeit through a laborious process. The proposed law wouldn’t directly undercut that, but the concern is that, with its “biological male” and “biological female” designations, it segregates trans people and makes them other — they can amend their IDs but try and pee in a bathroom that matches their gender expression? Then they’re criminals. Not only that, but it also raises the question whether gender variant people (women who may have a more masculine presentation or men who have a feminine style) may also be subject to discrimination and a “show your papers to pee” rule.

What seems to be the biggest shame in all of this, though, is that Florida Republicans are feigning concern over imagined scenarios of sexual assaults in public restrooms, when they are the ones trying to jam their heads under the stall doors to dictate who can and can’t use a particular restroom.

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