Montgomery County, MD votes tomorrow on gender identity ordinance

For sure, Montgomery County, MD is a hotspot for cultural change. My information is that tomorrow, the county officials there vote on whether to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity that a person expresses or asserts. Here is the paper trail on this issue with the current ordinance.

I cannot see any exemptions except perhaps for “distinctly private or personal” facilities (what are those like – is a church in that group?). Not sure what that means, but it appears children might exposed, literally, to adult nudity in public facilities.

Let’s have an open forum on this.

45 thoughts on “Montgomery County, MD votes tomorrow on gender identity ordinance”

  1. I know this is a bit late, but I live in San Francisco, and I can comment a bit on what that law means. Here it means that if there is inevitable, and unavoidable nudity and the facility cannot easily correct the problem, they have to provide equal accomodations for transgender people. Otherwise, they have to insure that their is sufficient privacy that there is not a problem.

  2. Mary…you commented:

    ““Most transgendered people are reasonable….”

    Most people are reasonable.”

    Thank you for stating the obvious, that transgendered people are people just like everybody else.

  3. Assuming that someone will take advantage of an ambiguous law is reality.

    Kindly provide for me an example of this occuring somewhere in the 14 or so states that currently have transgender non-discrimination policies.

  4. Ken,

    Assuming that someone will take advantage of an ambiguous law is reality. Transitional (not full transgendered) and intersexed people should probably have a separate restroom, locker room, etc..

  5. Jag said in post 65562:

    BTW, anyone ever consider that the transgendered person is likely far more self-conscious about their body and not wanting to be conspicuous or draw attention to themselves than they are a threat?

    I have considered it. I’ve also considered that most transgendered people are reasonable and would certainly be open to talking to and coming to some sort of accommodation for people who are uncomfortable sharing a lockerroom with them.

    Unfortunately, too many people seem all to willing to assume the worst. They focus on their own concerns rather than attempt to come up with solutions addressing everyone’s concerns.

  6. BTW, anyone ever consider that the transgendered person is likely far more self-conscious about their body and not wanting to be conspicuous or draw attention to themselves than they are a threat?

  7. Interesting…but I have to say, I am a woman who is attracted to other women, and have always used the women’s locker room. Although I despise them, I have even used the YMCA on occasion when other more adequately staffed facilities (like a Gold’s Gym) were not available. I have never had an incident.

    I really do believe that this whole issue is one of misunderstanding about transgendered people. They are not dressing like the other sex…they believe that they ARE a sex other than their biological one. As such, when in the process of transitioning, etc..they function like someone who is that sex, taking hormones, etc.. They are not looking to sexually assault anyone, they are just trying to live their life as consistently as possible.

    Statistically speaking, women are at far greater risk from their husbands, friends, and coworkers of sexual assault than any stranger. Do we recommend you have supervision at all times because of this fact? Of course not.

    I think we are blowing this way out of proportion, after all, there are likely gay men in men’s locker rooms all the time (they are not barred from the YMCA) and lesbian women in other women’s locker rooms. That we cannot see that transgendered people walk among us all the time already…but likely unrecognized…is, well, short-sighted and a bit naive.

    Making it easier for them to not be mistreated isn’t a threat to anyone.

  8. Some people are overlooking the potential for harm done by men who will abuse this law and trying to make this issue about intersexed and transitional males. The issue is about how intersexed and transitional people should be treated in terms of facilites. That’s a no brainer – with accessibility and respect. And unfortunately some men who are niether of those (intersexed or transitional) will take advantage of women. Then we will have an issue of how do we treat women who are not intersexed or transgendered – how about with respect.

  9. CK,

    I’m not concerned about a lesbian oogling my body nor of a rape (since at least I’d have more of a fighting chance) and rape of one woman by another is far less likely in ANY circumstance.

    And no I don’t think anyone with a penis will go into a rampage of rape – but – the potential is there and why shouldn’t I have a measure of safety by eliminating men from the women’s room? I see the potential for some men to abuse this law and thereby paralyzing a women’s natural apprehension when she is naked in front of a man. And I really do not like the idea of another man besides my chosen mate seeing me nude.

    BTW, I use the men’s dressing room ( never taking off my undergarments ever) to try on clothes – (when I go to JC Penny’s to buy my carpenter pants) BIG difference. I am not naked.

  10. CK,

    I understand your points but am not sure if I agree with them. My concern is safety and how it can be breached. I am not referring to anyone lurking, rather someone with the intent to harm and looking for the right conditions and environment to do so. By the time you can get someone to help it might be too late. It has nothing to do with the transgendered / transsexual individual, rather the person who has the intent to harm and is using deceptive measures to do so.

    We can all have an idealistic way of how we think it should be but reality speaks louder. Children and some adults ideally should not gasp when they see a transgendered person but they will. I’m not sure if a parent who brings their child to a public facility where undressing can occur wants to expose them to that reality and all the explaining that goes with it until they are old enough to understand. Also, I do fear for men who have gone through a transition and are in a men’s bathroom. I have heard too many horrible stories to believe otherwise.

  11. Mary,

    Right, it is not the individuals who are in transition that are cause for concern – they are in a precarious situation regarding day to day living and deserve the same kindness and respect that any of us want. The concern I have is with the man who deceptively dresses as a woman to gain access to other women. This could happen anywhere, including the dressing room facilities at Macy’s. He would not be questioned if a law says it is ok for transgendered people to be there. I also have a concern for the individuals who have transitioned to a man’s physical body – does anyone really feel they are safe in a men’s bathroom?

    Kind of off topic and on another note, it is well known that sometimes an individual will dress up as a nurse or volunteer to take newborns from a hospital nursery. I also know of a case here in my state where a man was enrolled in a school under the deception that he was a student – much younger than his actual chronological years – to gain access to children. Sometimes people do very deceptive things, including how they disguise themselves, to gain access to innocent victims and I don’t think anything is out of the question.

  12. Pathia,

    I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt that has a zipper halfway and I did not wear an undershirt. I bent down to kiss and pet his dog. I really did not mean to.


    I am not so concerned about the intersexed or the man in transistion – as much as I am worried about the man pretending to be one of those. He doesn’t have to pass at all for a woman and can still pretty much enter a womens room without question under this kind of law making. His intentions do not get questioned, his motives go unchecked, he gains access to innocent women and girls. I’ve seen plenty of men in transition that do not pass very well.


    My point is not the real transgender in the restroom. I am concerned about the man who fakes being transgender and gains access to naked women and girls in a locker room or a restroom with flimsy doors. Also, while a man is in transition and still has his penis he really should not enter into a womens locker room. He is still anatomically male (and probably developing breasts) and we do not know his sexual attraction (unless we out right ask him)

  13. The bathroom issues are less worrisome to me and I do think with more and more places having family rooms which are single facilities which can be locked, this not the biggest issue. I still cannot get past the YMCA, health club stuff, though.

  14. Mary–

    Please forgive me but…you simply can’t set something like that up and not get this question…HOW did you accidentally flash your gay neighbor? (I can picture it as a scene for Susan and the gay neighbors on Desperate Housewives.) (Yeah, I watch…but only because Gidget comes up next in Brothers & Sisters. I like the “Gidget sells Boniva” commercials too.)


    My bad. I realize that you answered my questions in part already when you wondered about the ‘overlap’ between transsexual and intersex. I’m sensing from your question that there IS overlap and that its growing….more and more transsexuals are identifying as intersex. While I appreciate their need to further identify themselvels, it seems like it makes those who were born presenting both genders even more invisible.

  15. Pathia-

    Welcome! Your first post set me off to do some reading and I got my answer on why ‘hermaphrodite’ is out as well as learning the two terms: intersex and DSDs. But I couldn’t get a sense of the proper usage in context. You’ve since provided that clarity without my even having to ask. Much appreciated!

    On this topic, the comments have gone back and forth between intersex and transsexual. Can you elaborate on what ways they are the same and what ways they are distinctly different? Are there subgroupings within the term intersex? i.e. those born with physical characteristics of both genders as differentiated from those whose development disorder was more that their mind and emotional responses didn’t match their genitalia.

    Thanks again for the enlightenment you’ve already provided!


    I realize that rape is a horrible crime. Several of my female friends have been raped…for one of them it was nearly 35 years ago, a year or two before we met. I understand the fear. But Pathia reminded us that there is the letter they are required to carry.

    The restroom rapist you’re fearing isn’t the transsexual or the intersex person, rape isn’t what their situation is about. They simply ‘gotta use the facilities”. Unlike men’s bathrooms, women have closed door stalls for all users. Everybody should be able to do their business without anybody seeing anybody else’s anything.

    I read the letter from the lawyers and there seems to be a fear that rapists could exploit this law to their advantage. And then I thought, wait. The rapist (who isn’t an intersex person or a transsexual) would need to ‘go in drag’ to a public place. I mean, they’d have to be able to walk into the ladies room without drawing any suspicion, right? So, they’d have to go beyond ‘football player drag’ and really do themselves up right. And, unless they were exceptionally great at transforming themselves into a woman, they couldn’t get away with this stunt within 30 miles of their home…for fear of somebody recognizing them under the makeup. I really can’t see this as a viable possibility.

  16. CK,

    If we all had private rooms for dressing, and “evacuating” I could careless who uses what room. Just as long as there is a lock on the door or a womens only and mens only rule. I do feel sorry for those that live in between somewhere. I really do – but I want my protection over their feelings. That hurts for people to hear – but it is not meant to anything other than – I want my protection.

    The other day, I had walked over to my gay neighbor’s house and accidentally flashed him my boobs – I was so apologetic to him! He doesn’t want to be looking at boobs! And that’s very understandable. And if at that time in New York, why didn’t you just walk into the men’s restroom?? Because you didn’t feel comfortable?? Because you are a woman and you go to the woman’s restroom?? You see – it works for all of us. And I am very sorry there is a small population of intersexed, transgendering people but not enough to give up my protective rights.

  17. Warren,

    Thank you, I realize it’s not a very known issue, intersexed people are (depending on how broad a size of a brush is used mind) can be as ‘frequent’ as 1/2000 or 1/10000 depending. That’s still more than transsexuals either way, but we’re much less visible.

    The terminology is drifting towards ‘intersex’ being an identification, like being ‘gay’. While ‘disorder of sex development’ would be similar to saying ‘I have same sex attraction’. The comparison isn’t perfect, but it makes it more relevant to your blog here. Intersex is a state of being, DSD is the condition that creates that state of being, if that makes sense?

    There is so much overlap of the transsexuals I know are intersex as well I can’t help but wonder if there’s some scientific explanation. Combining 1/2000 – 1/10000 and 1/100000 should not ‘overlap’ as often as it seems to without some sort of statistical correlation.


  18. However, my point about mental disorder is that transexualism is basically a head-trip (as is the propensity to be offended by anything) and has little to do with facts and truth. Convictions do change.

    Said point being supported by…?

  19. Dave,

    It is no longer an accepted ‘medical jargon’. The term has been dropped for intersex and disorders of sex development.

    Intersex and disorders of sex development more accurately describe the situation. ‘Between sexes’ or errors in sex differentiation in the womb. It is beyond rare to actually have BOTH. What happens more often is transitional genitalia. All fetuses are female at the start, this is why little boys get hernias, because the testicles drop down from where the ovaries are. They become masculinized if the proper hormones and chromosomes are present. If this masculinization occurs only part way, that’s when you get someone like me.

    Hermaphrodite is considered offensive, no if ands or buts. It hasn’t been used by any doctor that’s treated me, and that’s ALOT of doctors, since I can remember, and I am 27.

  20. CK,

    It is sooo not about catching queer as it is about the right to privacy when your pants are pulled down. Sorry you experienced the whole security guard thing and no doubt that was humiliating.

  21. Sorry Pathia. I did not know. Thank you for telling me. Is the preferred term intersexed?

    Dave, I have a friend who along with ten other children who were put into an experimental program for those born with a certain type of defect (do not want to go into specifics for privacy sakes) anyhow – some children were “made” female (without reproductive organs and the other half were to remain the same sex with a possible lifetime of problems. Well – all the girls committed suicide. And my friend is the only one who has reprodcutive ability. Guess – it should be left up to the patient??

  22. Ann,

    I do remember Ally – I really loved that show – as well as the idea of the unisex bathroom.

  23. I understand “hemaphrodite” is medical jargon for a person born with mixed genitalia. It is quite rare, and often easily rectified with simple surgery (although sometime a surgeon will be guided by a preferential ideology).

    However, my point about mental disorder is that transexualism is basically a head-trip (as is the propensity to be offended by anything) and has little to do with facts and truth. Convictions do change.

  24. Is there some sort of unreported epidemic somewhere of people walking around nude in bathrooms? Cause I’ve used a lot of public restrooms over the years, and I can’t recall ever suddenly running into a naked person, trans or not.

  25. Mary,

    Hermaphrodite is outdated and considered extremely offensive. Just an FYI. I realize you probably don’t know that.

    The word hemaphrodite pulls from pagan mythology of fertility idols, gods and goddesses. Intersexed people are almost always sterile.

    The comparison is…unsettling and depressing to say the least. It is borderline ‘the n word’ level of offense.

  26. anyone remember the show – Ally McBeal? They had a unisex bathroom at the Boston law firm and it had some funny scenes in it. I don’t think there is anything funny however about the shock factor a child or elderly person would experience in encountering an individual who is obviously the opposite sex dressed up as the same sex in a private facility such as a locker room or bathroom facility.

  27. Dave,

    If you want to call it a disorder – fine – I still don’t want to share bathrooms, lockers, etc… with someone in transition. And as far as being a hermaphrodite – let that person decide for themselves and as usual show respect for those that are of a different gender/understanding of gender identity.

  28. Maybe it’s just me, but I find this argument to be kind of like a tempest in a teapot. Maybe being on the Left Coast has jaded me. I don’t know how I would react if my kid came home saying he’d seen a transsexual, nude, in the bathroom. Then again, I typically don’t take him to public bathrooms…unless it’s an absolute emergency. And then, he is accompanied by an adult and uses a private stall. Weird all this obsession lately with public bathrooms. Who knew they were such a hotbed of bizarre behavior.


  29. Dave- I met a Jewish convert to Christianity the other night. Are there procedures whereby I can get him committed to the Brattleboro Retreat, since he is obviously having trouble realizing his own identity- as he was created to be?

  30. “Why should we accommodate and encourage a mental disorder, rather than help these folks realize their own identity –as they were created to be?”

    It’s unknown whether it is a mental disorder or a genetic/biological cause. Just like homosexuality it is of an undefined origin.

    There are also those born in between genders like myself. When I was born the doctor said “Congratulations, you have a perfectly healthy…*pause* We need to talk, but the baby is healthy!”

  31. The Brattleboro Retreat (our local mental hospital) has a lot of people who think they’re someone or something other than what they are. That’s why they’re there. Why should we accommodate and encourage a mental disorder, rather than help these folks realize their own identity –as they were created to be?

  32. Yeah call me old fashioned but I would not allow my child to view that much nudity on television since it would no doubt include sexual behavior aaaannnnnd, that a man/woman can enter into a changing room (ie locker room) and expose themselve to my opposite gender child does not thrill me – because guess what – someone is going to do it just for thrills. When regarding the rights of transexuals we must remember the rights of others as well. Like Eddy, I’ve stood at the door a time or two for someone in transition – but EVERYONE had privacy. Actually, I’ve even stood in front of a mens room once for a female friend who just could not wait any longer – again EVERYONE had privacy.

  33. I dunno man. It seems odd to me that in order to allow certain people to “feel comfortable in their bodies” they get to make a whole bunch of people feel uncomfortable in their very presence.

    Obviously it’s the “bunch of people” who has the problem, and not “the one”.

  34. Not sure what that means, but it appears children might exposed, literally, to adult nudity in public facilities.

    How shocking! Well, not really. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up by the beach, but nudity in public bathrooms was to be expected. And it wasn’t always of the same sex. The surfing town didn’t seem to make too much of a deal about it. I have a 9 year old who will probably see more nudity (of the opposite sex) on TV (good old family programming no less) than he will ever see in a public restroom. Honestly, isn’t this just a strawman argument? And aren’t we, by coddling kids, raising spoiled rotten kids who don’t know how to cope when reality hits them say about the time they finally leave home?


  35. Yeah I know we’re crazy here… but in Los Angeles I’ve noticed an increase in unisex bathrooms. And no I don’t mean single stall closet-sized rooms; I mean big bathrooms with multiple sinks and several stalls.

    Generally they are in a high-traffic public area like a club or restaurant. They have a common wash-up area with booths for the stalls (rather than just Larry Craig partitions) and the urinals are either in booths or behind a wall.

  36. LOL! I skimmed through the paper trail and then when I tried to revisit it, couldn’t get back to it.

    I am thinking that it’s not so much a matter of transsexuals parading around naked in locker rooms and showers but more a matter of ‘where do you go when you’ve really gotta go’. Once transsexual surgery has been performed, I believe you are officially recognized as the new gender and, by law, should be using the facilities that go with your body parts. The sticky area is mostly for the male to female. The breasts are usually done first…I think a bit is with hormones…and finally implants. For a time, the individual has breasts AND a penis. When the need to use a public facility arises, many prefer using the women’s facilities. (Other than locker rooms and showers, your nether regions are rarely, if ever, seen. I believe this is likely more true with women than with men.) So, the breasts are in the right room and using a stall would hide the penis from sight.

    Forcing the male to female transsexual to use a men’s room when they have visible female breasts is simply asking for trouble. Even if they take the privacy of a stall, chances are the breasts will be noticed inviting possible sexual assault or harassment.

    In the locker room, I would hope that the same logic would prevail. For both genders, you use the locker room that best goes with your body. The male to female would use the women’s locker room and showers once the breasts started looking definitely female. I would hope that until they have the castration, though, they take measures to keep the penis concealed.

    My gut says they threw in the locker room scenario ‘to be thorough’. The more pressing issue for the transsexual is what facilities to use if they’re at a sports event, a concert, a restaurant or bar, at work…

    I’ve had two transsexual friends over the years and had the opportunity of ‘guarding the door’ for both of them. (I actually met one of them just about the time that the hormones were beginning to kick in. My friends called me to tell me that ‘this girl who could be a guy’ just went into the men’s room at the pizza joint we hung out at. They knew my story so I was their ‘resident expert’. As awkward as things started though, R became a part of our little gang within a week or two. We all took turns guarding the restroom doors. With guards at the door, R would choose which restroom based on which one was currently vacant.)

  37. Wow – if it is left to the discretion of some middle manager/staff administrator – I fear the worst. Even still, I’m pretty liberal and open but do not want to walk into a womens restroom and share that with a person who is male anatomically. I don’t care if they are in transition. Females here, males over there, and if you are in the middle then take a third choice and go to that restroom (I’m all for adding a third restroom or changing room, locker room, etc…)

  38. do “not apply to accommodations that are distinctly private or personal.”

    would this indicate that the door would be closed and that would make it a private and personal accommodation? On a plane, the restrooms are for both genders and in very close proximaty to the other passengers but the door can close to accommodate one person for privacy, their own and others – well, of course, unless …… there were two people engaging in other activities – and the story goes from there =-0

    I seriously do not like the idea of a man or woman, however they choose to identify themselves, utilizing an open area that is intended for the privacy of a particular gender, including children, when they are not of that gender and then call it discrimmination.

  39. You are missing the discussion (which I don’t feel like retyping) that specifically addressed restrooms and lockerrooms. And that the YMCA (or any other facility that provides restrooms/lockerrooms) would be able to decide from itself if it wished to keep the existing gender restrictions on its restrooms/lockerrooms.

    You are missing the fact that Montgomery county isn’t the 1st place to enact such legislation and yet you can cite no other places where this issue has been a problem.

    Frankly Warren your whole stance comes across as someone trying to find a reason to argue against the ordinance without coming out and saying you are opposed to transgender non-discrimination laws.

  40. What are private or personal accommodations? I do not think a YMCA would apply. When my kids go to ours, I would not appreciate it if someone of the opposite sex were showing with them, I don’t care how the person thought of her/himself.

    What am I missing here?

  41. Warren said:

    Not sure what that means, but it appears children might exposed, literally, to adult nudity in public facilities.

    I’m assuming you mean adult of opposite biological gender.

    According to the source you cite this issue doesn’t seem to be a concern:

    pg 3:

    Council staff agrees with the Count Attorney’s opinion because County Code 27-10 provides that the provisions prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations do “not apply to accommodations that are distinctly private or personal.”

    I’m sure Montgomery County isn’t going to be the 1st place to enact such legislation. Have you ever heard of there being a problem of children exposed to the nudity because of a transgender non-discrimination ordinance?

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