Potential California Initiative Would Bar Transgender People from the “Wrong” Bathroom

A proposed ballot measure called the Personal Privacy Protection Act was submitted to Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office in April by Privacy for All that would require people to “use facilities in accordance with their biological sex in government-owned buildings, including public schools and universities.” The proposal would not apply to family or single-occupancy bathrooms. Privacy for All is the same group that attempted to repeal California law that requires public schools to allow transgender students to play on the sports teams of the gender that they identify with and allows transgender students to use school bathrooms.

If the proposal passes, those who feel their privacy had been violated by a transgender person “unlawfully” using the restroom or those who refrain from entering a restroom or locker room because they knew a transgender person was inside could sue either that person or the government entity and recover a minimum of $4,000. The initiative also seeks to protect private sector businesses that require people to use bathrooms in compliance with their birth gender.

To see this proposal on the ballot in November 2016, over 365,000 signatures must be collected. “We have great compassion for any person that is uncomfortable in traditional, sex-separated facilities,” said Gina Gleason, a proponent of the initiative, in a Privacy for All statement circulated by Christian Newswire. “But we also want to protect the privacy that most of us expect when we are in public restrooms, showers and dressing areas.”

The transgender community sees this initiative as “unconstitutional and unenforceable,” and “would dangerously single out Californians who don’t meet people’s stereotypes of what it’s like to be male or what it looks like to be female, putting everyone at greater risk of harassment and opening the state up to costly lawsuits,” Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center explained.

Does this law sound a little extreme? Well, citizens of California are allowed to submit any ballot proposal to the Attorney General’s office for a fee of $200. The Attorney General’s Office is legally obligated to give every potential proposal a name to put on the ballot, summarize the effects of every initiative, and allow time for proponents of the initiative to petition for signatures. California officials must put even the craziest ideas on the ballot if the required amount of signatures is collected. It remains to be seen whether the Personal Privacy Protection Act will make its way onto our ballots next November.