After passionate debate on both sides, a House subcommittee approved a bill that would block Floridians from using single-sex facilities like restrooms that don’t correspond with the sex listed on their drivers licenses or passports.
The bill (H.B. 583) by Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, was proposed in response to a Miami-Dade County ordinance intended to introduce protections for transgender individuals. Artiles argued that the ordinance proposed a public safety risk by allowing men to enter women’s restrooms and commit crimes and say they did so because they “felt female” that particular day.
But opponents have said the bill would discriminate against transgender people by forcing them to use restrooms and locker rooms different from their gender identity.
“If i go to use the restroom, everybody in that restroom has the right to sue me,” said Cindy Sullivan, 45, a trans woman from St. Petersburg, at a House Civil Justice Subcommittee hearing Wednesday afternoon. “You all just don’t get it...You could put me in jail for being me.”
Others have argued that the language in Artiles’ bill would cause unintended problems, including banning female reporters from entering male locker rooms after sports events. “We can make a sports exemption,” he said.
The bill OK’d by a 9-4 vote, with all Republicans supporting and all Democrats opposed.
“I will be in support of the bill with major questions on issues raised today,” said Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven.
Earlier in the day, Democrats in the House, alongside activist group Equality Florida, announced their opposition for the bill.