The culture war is alive and well, returning to the state Legislature that reconvened Monday.
Two Republican lawmakers have said they’ll seek to undo or modify a state Human Rights Commission rule, which clarified that a transgender person has access to a bathroom or locker room of his or her chosen gender identity.
Rep. Graham Hunt of Orting plans legislation that would let businesses limit bathroom access to whatever gender is indicated by a person’s genitalia. It’s not clear who would do the checking of genitals under Hunt’s scheme.
Sen. Doug Ericksen of Ferndale supports repealing the rule, too.
The administrative rule was adopted in November by the rights commission as a clarification of the state’s decade old anti-discrimination law. The rule took effect last month.
The YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties is among organizations that had to change policies to let transgender members use locker rooms of the gender that they identify with, according to a story by reporter Melissa Santos for The Olympian and The News Tribune.
“To me, this is a lot about fear-mongering,” state Rep. Laurie Jinkins told Santos. The Tacoma Democrat chairs the House Judiciary Committee and has been an advocate for the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender rights.
Our society’s gradual acceptance of gender-nonconforming people is moving by fits and starts, and bigotry will sometimes rear its ugly face until there is more universal knowledge of just how broad human variation in gender identity is and always has been.
Politicians from ultra conservative areas are bound to bend to pressure from constituents who are less knowledgeable or less accepting of this truth.
The complaints by critics of the rule have little to no merit when it comes to bathrooms, where a transgender woman or man can always use a toilet stall for privacy.
There is a greater chance that a transgender woman who has not had surgery might offend other women in a locker room where disrobing is more public — and where parents accompanying children could need to carry on a more challenging conversation about human sexuality with their young ones.
But we think the majority of Washington voters have shown they can accept differences in sexual preference and gender identity. Our state’s voter were first in the country to legally recognize same-sex relationships by supporting a domestic partnership referendum in 2009, which Jinkins championed, and later were among the first to back same-sex marriage.
Change is slow and often uncomfortable. But we don’t yet see a need to change the new rule.