Florida bill would ban transgender people from choosing their restroom
State lawmaker Frank Artiles calls for measure based on a person’s gender assigned at birth: ‘Anatomy dictates where you should go to the bathroom’
A Florida bill would require people to use bathrooms according to the gender they were assigned at birth – or face criminal charges and lawsuits.
Christian legislator Frank Artiles , a Republican state House representative from Miami, introduced HB583 in the Florida legislature on Wednesday, as a “public safety measure”. A committee assignment is pending.
“The whole purpose of this was to protect, especially females, from criminals,” Artiles said.
The bill defines gender as a “person’s biological sex, either male or female, at birth”. If enacted, the bill would charge people with a misdemeanor if he or she used a bathroom, fitting room, locker room or shower intended for the gender opposite the one he or she was identified with at birth. It would also allow others in the bathroom to sue in civil court.
“Single-sex public facilities are places of increased vulnerability and present the potential for crimes against individuals using these facilities, including, but not limited to, assault, battery, molestation, rape, voyeurism and exhibitionism,” the legislation reads.
It is unclear how the bill is supposed to stop people from committing these crimes, which can occur between members of any sex.
Asked why existing criminal statutes weren’t sufficient, Artiles said: “There’s no criminal statute that stops a man from going into a female locker room, even though society has said, ‘You’re not supposed to go into that.’”
He added: “I truly believe that your anatomy dictates where you should go to the bathroom.” Asked why it was problematic for a transgender person who identifies as a man to use a men’s bathroom, Artiles said, “I want her to use the bathroom designated by her anatomy – not the way she feels. If we are going to pass laws on people’s feelings, we are going to have a serious Constitutional issue.”
The bill was filed in response to a transgender non-discrimination ordinance passed by the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners, which Artiles said is flawed.
Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, called the bill a “misguided” attempt to “score points by hurting ‘those’ people, and in this particular case, ‘those’ people are trans people.” Keisling, a transgender-identified woman and a parent, said the bill was “absolutely disgraceful”.
“This lawmaker apparently has some kind of personal problem with [transgender people],” Keisling said. “To pick on people using the bathroom, it’s just bizarre – and kind of creepy.”
A Kentucky legislator mounted a similar attack in January, introducing a Senate bill, SB 76 , also known as the Kentucky Student Privacy Act. The bill would declare an emergency and would allow students who were in the bathroom with a fellow schoolmate who was using the “wrong” bathroom to sue. That bill was submitted to the education committee on Tuesday.
Artiles, a five-year legislator and home-improvement contractor while Florida’s part-time legislature is not in session, has also sponsored legislation that allows the state to charge women for committing crimes while pregnant (on top of any other criminal charges) and that would provide for the “lifetime monitoring of sex offenders”.
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