The Personal Privacy Protection Act initiativeBottom Highlights, Trans Progressive Thursday, April 23rd, 2015
Commentary: Trans Progressive
Aug. 12, 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266) into law. Paraphrasing the fact sheet for the bill promulgated by the Transgender Law Center, Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the GSA Network, the bill Introduced in February 2013 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and co-authored by Sens. Mark Leno and Ricardo Lara made it clear that the obligation of California schools is to allow transgender students to participate in all school activities, programs and facilities in accordance with their gender identities.
This didn’t sit well with Christian social conservatives of a certain stripe. A group of organizations formed the Privacy for All Students (PFAS) coalition. Among the founding member organizations of this coalition are the Capitol Resource Institute (CRI), the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) and Calvary Chapel Chino Hills.
PFAS tried to force a referendum on AB 1266, but the California secretary of state, following state law for how to validate signature percentages per each county in the state concluded that PFAS didn’t gather enough valid signatures to get a referendum on the ballot.
Now, however, this same coalition, which is now also going by Privacy For All (PFA), filed to collect for an initiative they’re calling the Personal Privacy Protection Act. “Notwithstanding any other provision of law,” the initiative states, “a person shall use facilities in accordance with their biological sex in all government buildings.”
If this initiative becomes law and a trans person doesn’t use a bathroom in accordance with their biological sex, the then law puts a civil bounty of no less than $4,000, plus attorney’s fees, for that “willful violation” in the use of those public bathrooms.
So how does the initiative define “biological sex? “Biological sex means the biological condition of being male or female as determined at or near the time of birth or through medical examination or as modified by Health & Safety Code § 103425.”
California Health & Safety Code § 103425 states the following “(a) Whenever a person has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, the person may file a petition with the superior court in any county seeking a judgment recognizing the change of gender. (b) If requested, the judgment shall include an order that a new birth certificate be prepared for the person reflecting the change of gender and any change of name accomplished by an order of a court of this state, another state, the District of Columbia, or any territory of the United States.”
“Clinically appropriate treatment” in California isn’t surgical intervention. In January 2012, the Vital Statistics Modernization Act (AB 433; 2011) used “clinically appropriate treatment” specifically so that trans people wouldn’t have to have surgical intervention to have their gender markers changed with state agencies. So, this section of the initiative appears at first brush contradictory between the first section. So personally, I’m not sure what my “biological sex” would be if this initiative became law.
“The Pacific ‘Justice’ Institute is at it again,” Facebooked Masen Davis, the former executive director of the Transgender Law Center, regarding the “biological sex” problem with the initiative. “This time they are promoting a California ballot initiative that would fine anyone who uses a restroom different than their ‘biological sex’ (‘the biological condition of being male or female as determined at or near the time of birth or through medical examination’) in government buildings (including public universities and schools). So, transgender men like me could be fined $4,000 or more for using the men’s room. Please take this seriously, California.” He followed it with the hashtag
Masen Davis has male pattern balding and wears a beard.
As Ilona Turner, the legal director of the Transgender Law Center put it, “The initiative’s definition of ‘biological sex’ is confusing, unclear and not based on any kind of scientific or legal understanding of gender.”
Perhaps the saddest thing is that for this to reach the ballot, PFA only needs about half of the signatures they needed to qualify for the AB 1266 referendum and the coalition has weeks more time to collect the signatures. It’s very likely this initiative will be on a California ballot. Think of this initiative as being as at least as significant to trans people as Prop. 8 was to all of LGBT community.
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