Mum of disabled son blames anti-trans law for being refused entry to public toilet

A set of sigjns indicating a gender-neutral bathroom facility.

A mother has blamed a recently passed anti-trans bathroom bill in Kansas for an incident where she was prevented from entering a restroom with her disabled, cisgender son.

Mother Karen Wild says she was stopped from helping her cisgender son, Ellis Dunville – who has a seizure disorder, is on the autism spectrum and is nonverbal – go to the bathroom by a male security guard at the Wichita Public Library.

Despite telling the guard she had been using the women’s public bathroom to help assist her son for years, she was told by a member of staff that the library has policies relating to restrooms that prevented Dunville from entering.

She told the Topeka Capital-Journal that she has made the trip to the library every week for years as a way to meet with her own mum, who helps care for her son.

“There isn’t anything I can think of that has changed except that they heard about that law and decided they needed to be emboldened by it somehow,” she said. “I can’t explain it any other way.”

Kansas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 180 in April following a shocking vote in which two Democrats joined state Republicans in approving the law.

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It forces trans people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender they were assigned at birth, not their actual gender identity.

Prior to the bill’s signing, governor Laura Kelly said she would “continue to stand up” for trans Kansans in opposing the bill.

“I will continue to stand up for you, protect your rights and call out and condemn any speech or behaviour or veto any bill that aims to harm or discriminate against you,” she said at a rally protesting the bill.

While Wild mentioned that there was no direct reference to SB180 during the incident, a spokesperson said there had been a “slight uptick” in unsafe activities in Wichita Public Library.

“Our staff has been more aware of situations that appear out of the ordinary,” spokesperson Sean Jones said. “With this particular situation, it was simply a mishandled customer service moment.

“Our staff was curious about the situation, and ultimately offered a solution for future uses in the form of telling them of the three family restrooms available at the main library.”

Wild said she was not aware of the gender-neutral facilities in the building at the time.

She added that there was great concern that her trans niece could be found in a similar situation when taking care of her son.

“My niece identifies as a woman and then you’d have, in some people’s eyes, two men in the women’s bathroom,” she said.

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