US: California Assembly passes two bills on transgender rights

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The California Assembly has approved two transgender rights bills despite opposition from Republican members.

Yesterday the Assembly cleared two bills protecting the rights of transgender people, which will now proceed to be considered by the state Senate.

One bill would allow transgender students to use bathrooms and gain membership of sports teams according to their gender identity.

The second bill would create an administrative alternative for transgender people to amend their birth certificates without facing lengthy and legal processes.

The author of the bill concerning trans students, Democrat Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, said it would clarify and enforce the state’s laws prohibiting discrimination against people because of gender identity.

“No student can learn if they feel they have to hide who they are at school or if they are singled out for unequal treatment,” he added.

Melissa Goodman of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said: “It’s about ensuring transgender students, just like all students, have a fair chance to be themselves and succeed at school.”

The bills faced heavy opposition from the Republican party – with no members of the party voting in favour of Mr Ammiano’s bill on trans students.

Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly said: “I do not believe that by allowing individuals of opposite sex to use the same restrooms makes any sense at all, and I think the vast majority of Californians deeply oppose this.”

San Francisco school district spokesperson Gentle Blythe replied there had been no complaints from parents, and added that cisgender students did not abuse rules put in place for the sake of transgender students.

“It’s not something where one day a student can identify as a boy and another day identify as a girl,” she said.

In April Representatives Jared Polis, an openly gay Democrat from Colorado, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act. If successful, the legislation would prohibit schools in receipt of public funding from discriminating against LGBT students.