A measure basing which bathroom a person is allowed to use on biology has cleared its first hurdle in the House. The Civil Justice Subcommittee heard more than one dozen testimonies Wednesday for and against the bill, which makes entering a bathroom designated for another sex illegal.
The state should ensure women and girls can feel safe in possibly vulnerable places—such as restrooms and other facilities. That’s Miami Republican Representative Frank Artilles’ argument.
“Go to my Facebook account and see the actual testimony from commissioner Pepe Diaz, where the Miami-Dade attorney specifically says, ‘Yes, a man can enter a woman’s only spa,’” Artilles say.
And Artilles has supporters—such as attorney Elsa Figueras. She says the bill protects women and girls from possible sexual offenses in bathrooms and locker rooms and says it protects businesses from liability claims.
“All we’re saying is that the statute amendment track what has been longstanding OSHA regulations, longstanding federal law restricting that biological males go in the biological males’ room,” Figueras says.
But opponents say the measure encourages discrimination against transgender women. Tallahassee resident Linda Micklewitz says bills restricting gender expression and hindering civil rights interfere with people’s lives and could hurt the state’s image and its economy.
“Florida once again has become a laughing stock. It’s scaring away tourists. The public safety argument is bogus,” Micklewitz says. There are already laws against lewd and lascivious behavior, disorderly conduct, rape—anything that could be done in a bathroom.”
At issue is whether transgender women should be allowed to use restrooms based on their desired gender rather than their sex at birth. LGBT activists argue transgender women forced to use men’s restrooms also face the possibility of harassment and sexual offenses. The bill will have at least one more stop before reaching the full House’s floor.