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Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘An ugly situation,’ ‘A safer community,’ ‘Time for a change’

Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson testifies in favor of HB 2, the
Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson testifies in favor of HB 2, the "Add the Words" bill, on Tuesday morning (Betsy Russell)

Testimony has resumed on HB 2. Among those speaking so far was Janet Bryant, a retired teacher, who said, “This bill has been presented as a beautiful bouquet of flowers but inside is a hand grenade with the pin already pulled.” She said, “Boys and girls will be switching restrooms just to be ornery and because they can. … It’s going to be an ugly situation.” Plus, she said, “Women will declare they are feeling masculine that day and use the men’s room because they are sick and tired of waiting for the ladies room. No one will challenge them.”

Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson spoke next, noting that this is likely his final public statement before he retires. “As a police officer, my heart and my experience tells me we’ll all enjoy a safer community if we add the words to protect sexual orientation and gender identity in our Human Rights Act,” he told the committee. He said the issue to him is one of public safety, and said before Boise passed its anti-discrimination ordinance, people were afraid to report crimes of violence that targeted the for their sexual orientation for fear they’d be outed.

Rep. John McCrostie, D-Boise, asked Masterson, “If this bill passes, will you continue to enforce laws that prevent people from going into the wrong restroom?” Masterson replied, “Yes.” Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, asked, “If someone is transgender, however, they can go into the restroom of the gender that they are currently claiming as their gender or that they transition to, is that correct?” Masterson responded, “They do that now.”

D.W. Trantham, a 13-year-old transgender teen, told the committee, “My whole life, I’ve been bullied and even beat up on a daily basis.” Her father, Tim, said, “I am a hammer-slinging construction worker who has built all over the state of Idaho, and I was at first very confused about transgender issues. I didn’t even know what transgender is.” He said at first, he was in denial. When makeup and girls clothes showed up, he threw them out. “They kept coming back,” he said. Same thing with Barbie dolls. Then he found notes from his child, despondent and considering suicide. “I threw them out - they kept coming back,” he said. “I realized it was time for a change. I faced my fears, I sought knowledge.” Now he supports his daughter and other transgender youth.

“I see her struggles on a daily basis,” he said. “Life is hard enough as a teenager. But imagine being a transgender teen with no protection in place to prevent these daily battles with bullying, issues in physical education, and even which bathroom is my child allowed to use. … Please pass this bill, or it too will come back.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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