OLYMPIA -- People in Washington would be required to use a restroom, locker room or other public facility based on their biology, not their sexual identity, under a bill approved by a divided Senate panel Wednesday evening.
Republicans on the Senate Law and Justice Committee approved a bill designed to set aside rules by the Human Rights Commission allowing transgender people to use facilities based on the gender with which they identify. Minority Democrats said it was removing important protections for people in the transgender community.
Senate Bill 6548 says people cannot use a restroom, bathroom, locker room or sauna if they have "genitalia of a different gender from that for which the facility is segregated."
Sen. Jeannie Darnielle, D-Tacoma, said most people couldn't tell the gender of a transgender person based on appearance.
"Never in my experience have I met a transgender person that presented a threat to another human being," she said.
Committee Chairman Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said there was no suggestion that transgender people pose a problem. But he's received more contacts from his district on this issue than any other, and many were concerned about predatory men taking advantage of the current rule to be in a women's restroom or locker room.
The bill was sent to the Rules Committee, which schedules legislation for the full Senate. That committee already has another proposal on the same topic.