Last week, the Connecticut House Judiciary Committee considered HB 6599, a bill to add “gender identity or expression” to the state’s anti-discrimination statute. Testifying against the bill, Peter Wolfgang — President of the Family Institute of Connecticut Action — warned that the bill would “expose” children “to teachers in their schools who one day will be a man and the next day could decide to be a woman” and “alternative lifestyles.” Women and children “would be put at risk,” Wolfgang continued. “Nothing would prevent a male sexual predator from pretending that he is confused about his sex to gain access to a woman’s bathroom.”
During the hearing, Committee Chairman Rep. Holder-Winfield (D) challenged Wolfgang on his fearmongering, “pointing out that laws prohibiting that kind of assault already exist” and would remain in place if the nondiscrimination measure is adopted:
REP. HOLDER-WINFIELD: You said if this bill passes, nothing would prevent the sexual predators from taking the actions that you suggest might happen. What prevents them from doing that now?
WOLFGANG: Well they’d certainly have more of a reason to do it. And men in general should not be allowed into women’s bathrooms. At issue is the fact that you have an exception for sex but not for gender identity and expression if this bill passes and men can enter women’s bathrooms.
REP. HOLDER-WINFIELD: But my question to you is, what prevents them from doing it now? Your answer, while a response, doesn’t actually indicate what does that.
WOLFGANG: Well, I mean, you know, there are laws that prevent crimes, obviously, from taking place in bathrooms in general. But, I mean, why give sexual predators a pretext? Why give them an excuse to say, “Look, I’m transgendered and that’s why I went into the women’s bathroom.” Obviously it’s – you know, there are laws for registered sex offenders.
REP. HOLDER-WINFIELD: And so those laws would actually exist if the crime was committed after entering the bathroom, even if this law passed – if this bill passed, is that not correct?
As HRC’s Meghan Stabler writes, while momentum for the bill is building, “[s]imilar bills in the past had passed both the Judiciary Committee and the Senate yet died in the state House of Representatives.” A similar bill in Maryland “dropped its public accommodations language in an effort to boost support.”
In 2004, the Connecticut passed a transgender-inclusive hate crime law and in 2000, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) issued a declaratory ruling “indicating that transgender people are protected under existing Connecticut sex discrimination laws.” Still, there currently exists no explicit law “protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment, education, housing, and public accommodations.” (H/T: Equality Matters)