The Baltimore County Council is primed to pass a measure protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, but opponents of the change continue to attack transgender people as threats to women’s safety. Many have spoken on both sides of the issue before the council, but at yesterday’s meeting, 15 people spoke against the protections while only one defended them. Here are some of the transphobic thoughts shared at the meeting and with local media this week:
- Tina Siegert, resident of Catonsville: “I have not had good sleep in the past few weeks because of this bill. The thought of a man being in a [women’s] restroom just unnerves me.”
- William Howard, former councilman: “This bill is a steppingstone in causing children to sin. [Advocates] will eventually come here and ask for more liberties that would be considered outrageous today.”
- Unidentified organizer against the bill: “We dug and found out this bill is just a monster… As a grandparent and a parent, it’s just very upsetting. There are rape victims who are real concerned about this. They’ve been through it. I mean, you’re going to be in the lady’s room, dressing room, locker room, public shower possibly, and here comes a man dressed as a woman who’s going to undress and you’re undressed in front of him.”
- Unidentified “ex-transgender” representing Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays: “The confusion it brings to the minds of children. When you think of a little girl in a bathroom and there’s a man. You can tell it’s a man but then has a wig on.”
Opponents of transgender equality regularly smear the community as predators to try to obscure the fact that they are significant victims of discrimination throughout society. Last year’s National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that trans people regularly face workplace harassment (90 percent), employment discrimination (47 percent), housing discrimination (19 percent), homelessness (19 percent), public harassment (53 percent), denial of equal treatment by government officials (29 percent), denial of medical care (19 percent), and poverty rates four times the national average. To define the protections with a myth that bathrooms will somehow become less safe is to completely disregard the entire life experiences of transgender people.
The council is expected to vote on the measure on February 14.