published Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Watson withdraws Senate version of bill affecting transgender use of restrooms, dressing rooms

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Should transgender people be required to use the bathroom of their birth gender?

NASHVILLE — Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, this afternoon withdrew the Senate version of a controversial House measure prohibiting transgender people from using use public bathrooms and dressing rooms that don’t match the gender listed on their birth certificates.

Watson, who is chairman of the Hamilton County legislative delegation, said he sponsored the bill as a standard courtesy to local House members, in this instance, Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, the House sponsor of the measure.

“I understand Rep. Floyd’s passion about the issue, but we have more pressing issues before us that we need to focus our attention on and we don’t need to get sidetracked,” Watson said.

Floyd said earlier Thursday he introduced the bill after reading a news article about a Texas woman who said she was fired from Macy’s after stopping a male teen dressed as a woman from using a dressing room.

“It could happen here,” Floyd said. “I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry.

“Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk,” he said. “We cannot continue to let these people dominate how society acts and reacts. Now if somebody thinks he’s a woman and he’s a man and wants to try on women’s clothes, let them him take them into the men’s bathroom or dressing room.”

The bill would charge violators with a misdemeanor carrying a $50 fine.

The legislation had drawn swift condemnation on gay and liberal blogs with Jonathan Cole of the Tennessee Equality Project dubbing it the “Police the Potty” bill. Cole noted state law already prohibits anyone born in the state from amending their gender on birth certificates after undergoing medical procedures to change gender.

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