TOWSON, Md. — Montgomery County police chief Thomas Manger says that allegations that rapes and sexual assaults occurred in public restrooms following passage of a transgender accommodation law are “untrue.”
The assertion comes in response to opposition to a transgender rights bill introduced Tuesday in Baltimore County, Md., by freshman Democratic councilman Tom Quirk — his bill would protect transgender people and allow use of restrooms according to their gender identity.
In a letter sent to Quirk last week, Manger wrote, “Since this law has been in effect (in Montgomery County), we have had no reported rapes committed in restrooms by men in women’s clothing.”
But the leading opponent of the measure, Ruth Jacobs, president of Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government, said lawmakers should be concerned about women’s safety.
“Promoted as a ‘gender identity anti-discrimination bill,’ Human Relations Bill No. 3-12 forces the public to recognize men as women, thereby allowing men access to women’s bathrooms, This takes away from a woman being a woman,” Jacobs said.
“These people are confused about their gender,” she added. “The bill is a direct attack on women’s privacy.”
Mark Patro, president of the Baltimore County’s Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG), told The Baltimore Sun, “This bill is about protecting people from discrimination. The bill is not about bathrooms.”
The proposed law appears to have enough support on the seven-member county council to pass.
In addition to Quirk, three other council members — Democrats Vicki Almond, Cathy Bevins and Kenneth Oliver — have signed on as sponsors. The council plans to discuss the legislation at a work session in Feb. 18.
Restroom use by transgender individuals in Baltimore County suddenly became an issue last spring when a transgender woman, Chrissy Lee Polis, 22, was attacked following a confrontation with two female patrons over use of the women’s restroom in a Rosedale, Md., McDonald’s restaurant.
In addition to Montgomery County’s law, neighboring Baltimore City and Howard County have anti-discrimination laws. However, the bathroom provision is a controversial issue. The issue of restroom accommodation sank the Maryland General Assembly’s proposed anti-discrimination law last year.