Council committee discusses transgender bathroom proposal

CLEVELAND -- One part of a proposal to update the city's anti-discrimination law is stirring a lot of debate and controversy.

Councilmen Matt Zone and Joe Cimperman are behind ordinances to modernize the city's present anti-discrimination measures, including a "public accommodations" ordinance that would allow transgender individuals to use the public bathroom and locker room where they feel most comfortable.

A council committee held the first hearing on the measure Wednesday afternoon.

Transgenders are those who live the gender of a person that differs from their actual sex when they are born.

The public accommodations proposal would prevent Cleveland businesses from deciding which restrooms and locker facilities a person must use.

Backers say it would let people use the bathroom consistent with how they live their daily lives.

Staunch opponents have fears and concerns.

A standing room overflow crowd of more than. 200 people packed a hearing room at Cleveland City Hall Wednesday afternoon.

Supporters of the ordinance waved yellow cards saying "Thank You" when council members made comments backing the law.

Transgenders told reporters they deserved the same rights as everyone else.

Opponents expressed fears the law would encourage sex crimes and awkward moments for young children.

Could the ordinance allow or invite criminals and sexual deviants to use the opposite sex's facilities?.

Would the new law mean young girls would see male body parts in a woman's bathroom or locker room or young boys would see women's anatomy in a men's restroom?

USA Today says 15 states and Washington D.C. ban discrimination in public facilities on the grounds of gender identity and sexual preference or orientation.

Some think the only way the law could be enforced is to make businesses open their facilities to both sexes.

The goal is to make Cleveland seem a thoughtful and welcoming city, consistent with the spirit of the Gay Games, which were held in Cleveland.

The stated purpose of the law is to let transgender women and men use a bathroom that puts them at ease.


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