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Minnesota Lawmaker Says 'Crude' Transgender Reaction Strengthening Resolve on Bathroom Bill

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Minnesota Sen. Scott Newman (R) contends Minnesota’s transgender community is not being bullied by his legislation that would regulate bathroom use by sex. Rather, Newman argued transgendered people and their supporters are the bullies, and he is the one being bullied because of his legislative proposal.

Newman has unleashed a vitriolic debate in Minnesota with his proposal, Senate File 3002, the Individual’s Right to Privacy and Safety in Public Accommodations Act. It would require people use restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and showers that match the biological gender on their birth certificates, not the gender they choose or surgery makes possible.

“I will tell you that I would estimate on about 10 to 1 the emails and phone calls coming out of the transgender community are coarse, they are threatening, they’re crude,” Newman said during a press conference. “And I will tell you that all that does for me is to strengthen my resolve that I’m going to protect my constituents.”

Monica Meyer, the executive director of the LGBT-rights group OutFront Minnesota, believes the Individual’s Right to Privacy and Safety Act would lead to the bullying of transgendered people, and worse.

“This legislation is about fear-mongering and it creates a hostile climate for transgender people, and it’s wrong. It’s just plain wrong,” Meyer said. “This bill is really about discrimination, plain, and simple discrimination.”

Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R) is sponsoring House File 3396, companion legislation to Newman’s proposal.

Gruenhagen said in an email to KARE-TV his motive is not discrimination. He said, as the name of the bill should suggest, he just wants to protect the privacy and public safety of all Minnesotans.

The lawmaker told reporters he decided to propose HF 3396 after a woman said that a man, who claimed he was now a woman, was being allowed to use the women’s restroom where she worked.

Gruenhagen said that is causing “great anxiety, fear, and discomfort” for the woman who told him the story, as well as other women who worked in that office. They are all afraid to complain. Rather than risk losing their jobs, they are using a women’s restroom in another building.

“There is a great deal of confusion among school administrators, business owners and public officials regarding the laws on the issue of transgenders using opposite sex public facilities such as showers, dressing rooms and restrooms, both in schools and society,” Gruenhagen wrote. “My bill will bring clarity to this issue.”

Gruenhagen also believes gay, lesbian and transgendered people are mentally ill and need professional help.

“Whether it’s pornography or unhealthy sexual behavior, you can receive treatment for that and be free from these compulsions,” Gruenhagen said during an interview on WCCO radio.

No hearings have been scheduled on the legislation in either the House or Senate. The final deadline for committee approval is April 21. So Newman and Gruenhagen have little hope of seeing their proposal wind up on Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.

But if it does, Dayton — who has banned non-essential state travel to North Carolina because of that state’s bathroom bill —  has left no doubt about its fate. Dayton used his Facebook page to promise a veto.

“I’m just appalled,” Gov. Dayton told reporters. “This is about pandering to their extreme base. They’re wrong on the issue and they’re wrong on the morality of it, in my opinion.”

This is not just a Minnesota debate. Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed legislation in March that made North Carolina the first state in the nation to have a law that requires people to choose a restroom based on the gender listed on their birth certificate.

“Legislation was passed to protect men, women and children when they use a public restroom, shower or locker room,” McCrory said in a statement. “That is an expectation of privacy that must be honored and respected.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 13 other states are also considering similar “bathroom bills.”

ACLU Advocacy and Policy Counsel Eunice Rho told the Keen News Service there are “more anti-LGBT bills this year than in any other time.” She estimated “almost 200” have been introduced.

Rep. Gruenhagen said Dayton and everyone on the transgendered side of the argument should be concerned with backing a policy that would be best for everyone, instead of just adding to the volume of the conversation.

“If we can minimize the name-calling and labeling and reasonably discuss the facts surrounding the issue,” he said, “I believe the solution will be evident to the majority of Minnesotans.”