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03/21/2013

News / Arizona legislature mulls proposal to police gender in restrooms with birth certificates

The Arizona House Appropriations Committee is considering a bill that would make it illegal to access gender-designated restrooms, showers, locker rooms and other premises for those with the opposite gender indicated in their birth certificate. The legislation was proposed in response to a Phoenix City Council measure that extended anti-discriminatory laws to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, making it illegal for business to prevent transgender men from using their restrooms.

Republican Representative John Kavanagh backed the House measure, saying that the Phoenix City Council law, derogatorily called the “bathroom bill” by its critics, would allow any man claiming to be a woman to enter a women’s locker room and disrobe.

“That's unacceptable behavior,” Kavanagh stated, as quoted by The Arizona Daily Star.

However, it will not be necessary to carry around a birth certificate to access a public restroom. The birth certificate will only be used as evidence of one’s gender in the event of men entering premises designated for women and vice-versa.

“If you go into a public shower and you're a male and it's a female public shower, and the police are called, well, you'd better be able to prove that you're a female and not a male,” Kavanagh noted. “Otherwise you're going to go to jail, which is where you belong.”

A person’s gender can be amended on his/her birth certificate if he/she undergoes a sex change operation. In that case, a doctor would have to send a signed and dated letter informing the Arizona Department of Health Services of the sex change.

The law also states that the gender can be changed based on a “chromosomal count that establishes the sex of the person as different than in the registered birth certificate.” The 23rd pair of chromosomes differs in men and women, with men having a longer X coupled with a shorter Y chromosome, and women having two X chromosomes. However, in some cases, individuals with penises may have a pair of X chromosomes and vice versa.

The House measure has its fair share of critics with Equality Arizona calling it “a disgusting invasion of privacy and civil liberties for all of us.” The group states that it would make criminals of women who sneak into the men’s room to avoid waiting in line.

However, Kavanagh dismissed such a possibility, saying that police would exercise discretion in “unusual circumstances.”

The law would allow individuals whose job requires entering gender-specific restrooms to do so without any legal ramifications. It would also exempt people assisting other individuals, such as the physically-disabled.

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