Back in 2009, the city of Cleveland, Ohio established nondiscrimination protections for the LGBT community in employment, housing, and nondiscrimination protections. Before the ordinance passed, however, lawmakers included a provision that still allowed private businesses to exclude transgender people from using a restroom or locker room. One of the City Council’s committees began consideration Wednesday of an ordinance rectifying that exclusion, but opponents of transgender equality are challenging the change with misinformation about the ordinance and harmful myths about trans people.
Cleveland.com contributed to the misinformation by suggesting that the ordinance “would require businesses to make their restrooms, showers, and locker rooms available to both sexes.” As Media Matters pointed out, the measure merely prohibits businesses from refusing the use of bathrooms or similar facilities based on a customer’s gender identity.”
Two Ohio-based anti-LGBT groups have been more virulent in their claims about trans people. Mission: America’s Linda Harvey claimed that the ordinance “opens up dangerous territory for girls and women as far as dangerous, predatory males having full access to restrooms and privacy areas where women should be able to feel safe.” She went as far as to say that she “would be hesitant to go to not only the Republic[an] Convention but the Indians’ games or the Browns’ games.”
Citizens for Community Values similarly suggested the change “outrageously neglects the safety and physical and emotional health of women and children and opens up real possibilities of predators and incidents of rape, assault, public exposure, and other sexual abuse.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has also reiterated its opposition to transgender bathroom equality across the country. According to ADF president Alan Sears, “The fact that those pressing this activist agenda are willing to sacrifice the vast majority of women’s and children’s’ [sic] rights and dignity to satisfy it speaks volumes about the self-absorption and single-minded intent of that agenda.”
Gender identity nondiscrimination protections have already been the law in several states around the country for several years. There is no evidence to suggest that these policies do anything to endanger women in children, largely because transgender people are no more likely to be predators than anybody else. The laws do, however, protect transgender people from discrimination and harm, such as the way that a trans woman might be treated in a men’s restroom.
Wednesday’s hearing was a preliminary consideration by the Council’s Workforce and Community Benefits & Finance Committee. They did not hold a vote, concluding they wanted more information from other Ohio cities that already have these protections. Once the committee votes, it will advance to the full Council.