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Transgender People Could Get Sued For Using The 'Wrong' Bathroom Under Proposed Law

Restroom (Photo by Kudla via Shutterstock)
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Last year a group tried and failed to challenge a landmark California law that protects transgender students who want to use public facilities like restrooms and lockers. Now that same group is fighting to restrict transgender people from using restrooms for their gender in public schools and universities.

The Privacy for All coalition proposed a California ballot measure last Friday that aims to ban transgender people from using restrooms in government buildings that aren't in "accordance with their biological sex," the measure says, according to the L.A. Times. So that means someone like Orange Is The New Black transgender actress Laverne Cox could get sued if she used a public women's restroom. Family restrooms and single-person restrooms would be exempt.

The proposed law, dubbed the Personal Privacy Protection Act, goes even beyond that. If a person feels their privacy is violated if a transgender person "unlawfully" goes into the public restroom, then the coalition wants that person to be able to sue transgender people or the government organization for damages and attorney fees, for a minimum of $4,000. This also applies to people who make the choice to not go into a restroom because they spotted a transgender person in there—they, too, would be able to sue.

Privacy for All also wants business owners to be protected in the case that they get sued for requiring their customers and workers to use restrooms that are in accordance with their sex assigned at birth, the Sacramento Bee reports.

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The group needs 365,880 signatures to get a slot on the 2016 ballot.

Think Progress points out that the proposed measure never directly uses the word "transgender." "...It seeks to erase transgender people by defining 'biological sex' as 'the biological condition of being male or female as determined at or near the time of birth or through medical examination.'"

Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, told the Times that the Personal Privacy Protection Act was "unconstitutional and unenforceable." In addition, it "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 lawsuit."

The Sacramento Bee reports that last year when then-Secretary of State Debra Bowen said Privacy for All didn't have enough signatures to repeal the California law that protects transgender students, the coalition sued her. That court case is still pending. In the meantime, Privacy for All spokeswoman Karen England said that they're hoping to "wrap up the court battle" and put that on the ballot as well, including this new Personal Privacy Protection Act.

Related: West Hollywood's New Gender Neutral Bathrooms Are Progressive And Logical