Transgender high school student Bradie Anderson doesn’t want to have to go back to using the boys bathroom.
The-14-year-old testified Wednesday during the House Higher Education Committee against a bill that would ban transgender students from using the bathroom and locker room that matches up with their gender identity.
“How uncomfortable and unsafe would I be in the boy’s bathroom? Very. … Who is going to start checking to see who is transgender and who isn’t? … Do you know how dangerous it is for me in the bathroom?” Bradie said in her testimony.
Her mom Anne Anderson also spoke out against the bill.
“Bradie is a very bright, determined little girl who would like to be a lawyer someday, maybe even a politician, but you will lose out on her because we will have no choice but to move,” Anne said. “Please don’t do anything to my daughter.”
State Reps. Beth Lear, R-Galena, and Adam Bird, R-New Richmond, introduced House Bill 183 which would require Ohio K-12 schools and colleges to mandate that students could only use the bathroom or locker room that matches their sex assigned at birth. It would also prohibit schools from allowing students to share overnight accommodations with the opposite sex.
Many Republicans nationwide have rejected the medical consensus on transgender issues. The American Medical Association officially opposes policies preventing transgender individuals from accessing basic human services and public facilities consistent with gender identity.
However, HB 183 would not prohibit a school from having single-occupancy facilities and it would not apply to someone helping a person with a disability or a child younger than 10 years old being assisted by a parent, guardian, or family member.
More than 100 people submitted opponent testimony, including many people who are or know someone who is transgender.
Dion Manley, who grow up with the name Diane, came out as transgender in the 1990s.
“In the ’90s I used men’s facilities and locker rooms at a university and the Y with no incidents,” Manley said. “I will say that sending trans women into men’s rooms is a set up for unnerving, dangerous, and degrading experiences.”
Beryl Brown Piccolantonio, Board President of the Gahanna-Jefferson school board in Franklin County, said she is concerned how this bill “would hurt some of our most marginalized and vulnerable students.”
The closest gender-neutral restroom to Cam Ogden’s usual study spot is across the street in a parking garage.
“Separating transgender people’s public accommodations from cisgender people will not make anyone more safe,” said Ogden, a transgender college student. “It will simply result in unequal access and treatment in school environments for transgender youth.”
Mallory Golski, the civic engagement and advocacy manager for Kaleidoscope Youth Center, talked about her experience as a youth swim coach and shared how a particular 13-year-old nonbinary swimmer is often dehydrated due to lack of water.
“They often remind me that the reason why they don’t drink more water isn’t because they aren’t thirsty or don’t realize that they need more water – it’s because they don’t feel comfortable or safe in the gendered restrooms at school,” Golski said.
This particular swimmer was also kicked out of the boy’s restroom at school, despite being assigned male at birth.
“The boys kicked them out, confirming my swimmer’s suspicion that they weren’t safe in either gendered restroom at school,” Golski said. “Transgender and nonbinary youth deserve to feel comfortable while on overnight field trips, in dorm rooms and in locker rooms, and they certainly deserve to go to the bathroom in peace.”
Golski also included quotes in her testimony from people who go to Kaleidoscope Youth Center, Ohio’s largest organization serving LGBTQIA+ youth and young adults.
“Why are you focusing on kids peeing, honestly? … I should be able to pee where I want.”
Delia Sosa talked about how she has a prolapsed bladder which she said was caused, in part, by holding in her urine for too long when she was in school because her teachers wouldn’t let her use the bathroom during class.
“This is what happened to me, and what will likely happen to the transgender youth impacted by HB 183,”she said. “Do it for the kids who just want to go to the bathroom.”
State Rep. Joe Miller, D-Lorain, thanked all the opponents who came to testify.
“I can just feel the hurt and the difficulty this has been brought upon you with this bill,” he said.
State Rep. Josh Williams, R-Sylvania, asked most of the questions during Wednesday’s committee meeting.
“What would you say to a woman who feels fear when you enter a restroom because they see you as a biological male?” Williams asked Ogden.
In response, Ogden said that hasn’t been an issue.
“If you want to ban me from a restroom because I look like a biological male, I think you should ban every woman who is over 5 foot 8 inches (and) every woman with short hair,” Ogden said.
In other committee news, Senate Bill 83 — the massive higher education bill that would drastically impact college campuses — was removed from the committee’s agenda Tuesday afternoon. The bill passed in the Senate in May, but has only had sponsor testimony so far in the House Higher Education Committee.
Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on Twitter.
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