MINNEAPOLIS - A Facebook post from Governor Mark Dayton became widely shared Friday after he shared his view of a proposed bill defining which bathrooms in schools and workplaces can be used by transgender Minnesotans.
Several Republican state lawmakers support legislation that would require transgender people to use restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms and showering facilities that match their biological sex on their birth certificate.
“They are wrong on the issue and wrong on the morality of it in my opinion. I’ll veto it,” said Governor Dayton during his weekly news conference, repeating his stance on his Facebook page.
His statement comes as North Carolina is in the national spotlight over a sweeping new law that rejects LGBT protections in the state, what critics are calling the most anti-LGBT law in the country.
At the Minnesota State Capitol this week, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, said his bill would protect the privacy and public safety of all Minnesotans. He said the legislation came from a constituent’s concerns after a male co-worker began using the women's restroom during a gender transition.
“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. This will greatly affect the privacy rights and public safety needs of MN's citizens and children. My bill will bring clarity to this issue,” said Rep. Gruenhagen, in an email to KARE 11.
“They just keep bashing people for their own political advantage. This is about pandering to their extreme base,” said Dayton.
In Minneapolis, Alison Yocom and her son, George, 12, applaud Governor Dayton’s stance and advocacy for the transgender community.
“I am angry actually at the lawmakers who introduced this bill. I am angry they think they can police people in bathrooms, and create an issue where there is not an issue,” said Alison Yocom. “Transgender kids are just like any other kids, and if you talk to one and met one and loved one like I do, you would know all this nonsense is wasting time and is painful for kids like mine.”
George, a 7th grader, is a transgender child who said he can remember identifying as a boy as far back as three years old. He feels now at 12 years old, he’s found his voice and happiness as a male.
“I definitely know there are people out there who don’t support me and I’ve come in contact with some of those people,” he said.
George said he doesn’t pose as safety risk to others in a bathroom, as some behind the legislation cite, but instead worries his own safety is at risk, looking to the high rate of bullying transgender students are subjected to.
“I personally am worried to go to the men’s bathroom because I get misgendered every day. I am not going in there to look at people, I am going in there to go to the bathroom and get out as fast as possible because even I don’t feel comfortable in there,” said George.
Rep. Greunhagen, said the policies surrounding this “critical issue” should be thoroughly vetted in the public discourse before being implemented on a wide spread basis.
“Both sides need to be heard and in the end I believe the Governor and legislators of both parties need to implement a policy that represents the will of the people. If we can minimize the name calling and labeling and reasonably discuss the facts surrounding the issue I believe the solution will be evident to the majority of Minnesotans,” said Rep. Greunhagen.
The Minnesota Family Council & Institute weighed in on this issue in an email statement to KARE 11.
“Governor Dayton is simply wrong to suggest it’s immoral to protect the privacy rights and safety of women and girls in places where they’re undressed and vulnerable. In fact, it’s dangerous and immoral not to do that.
People who struggle with gender confusion are hurting and need our compassion and understanding. We can and must accommodate their needs without violating everyone else’s privacy rights and safety. We applaud North Carolina for enacting a law that does both, and we support legislation to do the same thing in Minnesota. That’s the compassionate, fair, and moral thing to do. Minnesotans should demand that Governor Dayton and the Legislature make that happen,” said John Helmberger, Minnesota Family Council & Institute Chief Executive Officer.