(CNSNews.com) - Council lawmakers in Maryland's Montgomery County are considering a proposal to give transgendered people protected status under law, and a local citizen's group is pledging to try to stop it, contending that, among other things, it would allow transgender men to use showers, lockers, and restrooms used by women and girls.
Bill 23-07 would add "gender identity" to the county's existing non-discrimination laws, if passed by the Montgomery County Council at its upcoming Nov. 13 meeting.
Michelle Turner, director of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC), a parent's group in Rockville, Md., said the bill would basically allow males to have open access to women's restrooms.
"I am dumbfounded," Turner told Cybercast News Service. "They are saying, 'If you are a man but you feel like a woman, then even if you still have male genitalia, you would have access to restrooms and locker rooms and showers used by women and girls."
Dan Furmansky, executive director of the homosexual activist group Equality Maryland, said, in fact, the measure would protect a variety of what he called "gender-nonconforming individuals."
"Men who might appear effeminate or women who appear 'butch' - whether those are gay individuals or straight individuals - would have protection under this proposed legislation," he said.
Specifically, the law would apply to individuals who are living full-time as "a gender other than their birth gender."
He added: "Those could be individuals who are transsexual - meaning they have had sex reassignment surgery - or they could be people who are transitioning, or they could be people who cannot or are not going to have that reassignment surgery."
Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, said she is shocked that Montgomery County is considering protected status for a very tiny portion of the population - one which suffers from a psychiatric disorder.
"Transgenderism is legally considered a mental disorder," Griggs said. "It is not biological; people do not have a female brain in their body that is somehow different than their biological sex.
Transgenderism is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) - the book of guidelines that mental health professionals refer to in making diagnoses of psychiatric and psychological conditions.
The legal measure was quietly advancing through the county council until someone leaked its existence, Turner said. Members of CRC went to the Oct. 2 council meeting to speak out. Now a countywide effort is underway to alert parents and others about the bill.
"We have over 900,000 citizens here in Montgomery County, and we need to reach as many as we can to let them know what is going on behind closed doors by our county council - our elected officials," she said.
The bill is sponsored by Montgomery County council members Duchy Trachtenberg, Valerie Ervin, and Marc Elrich. None of the council members were available for comment prior to press time.
Make media inquiries or request an interview with Pete Winn.
Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-brief.
E-mail a comment or news tip to Pete Winn.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.