Gov. Jerry Brown should sign Assembly Bill 1266

Time to uphold transgender rights

Greg Lucas’ state-politics column Capitol Lowdown appears every other week in SN&R. He also blogs at

California is probably about to become the first state to spell out in the law what school districts must do so that transgender students aren’t discriminated against.

Stuff like letting them join the sports team or use the bathroom or locker room that matches their “gender identity,” which may not necessarily reflect their anatomy at birth.

Two other states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, have said what schools need to do regarding transgender students and “sex-segregated activities,” they just haven’t stuck the policy in the code books like California is likely to do.

Lawmakers have already OK’d the bill—Assembly Bill 1266 by Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat. The measure is awaiting action by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown won’t say if he’ll sign Ammiano’s bill, but the smart money says he does.

One reason is that Ammiano and supporters of his bill stress that it’s primarily a restatement of what California law has been since 2003, when then-Gov. Gray Davis, Brown’s former chief of staff, signed a law adding gender identity to the list of heavyweight characteristics it’s illegal to discriminate over. Like religion, sex, age, race and disability.

Who is going to get riled up about refining the status quo?

Of course the counter argument is, why does a decade-old status quo need refining?

It’s already a crime to not acknowledge and accommodate a person’s gender identity. Even if not a crime, plain ol’ good manners demand it. So make the accommodation and move on. Just as a number of school districts have done.

Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second largest school district, passed a policy in 2004, updated in 2011, aimed at preventing discrimination against transgender pupils. The district has yet to log an incident or a lawsuit from a parent horrified at boys in the girls’ bathroom or a transgender kid saying their needs weren’t being appropriately addressed.

San Francisco Unified School District has had a policy for a while. Also Willits Unified School District in Mendocino County and San Rafael City Schools, for example.

Ammiano says the clarification in his bill is aimed at other districts that aren’t doing it right.

Like Arcadia Unified School District, which reached a settlement on July 24 with the U.S. Department of Education over a 2011 complaint from a student born female with a male gender identity who wasn’t allowed to use boys bathrooms and locker rooms or stay with other boys during a school-sponsored field trip. Arcadia pledges to change its policies.

Much of Ammiano’s opposition came from the same folks who see same-sex marriage as a precipitous slide down the slippery slope to a mandatory front-row seat at the Gladiator Club’s Nude Twister Night on Main Street Gomorrah. Accommodation of transgender Californians is yet another government-sanctioned blasphemy, an abomination in the eyes of God. Like cross-dressers (see Deuteronomy 22:5).

Just curious: Does Pope Frank’s “Who am I to judge?” apply to the “T” as well as “LGB”?

Because transgender is the Advanced Placement test on LGBT equality. And that’s why Ammiano’s bill is significantly more than just a restatement of existing law.

A percentage of the heterosexual population considers themselves generous and broad-minded by “supporting” same-sex marriage. Many appear to equate conferring that right with equality. Mission accomplished.

Even the straights that believe husband and husband or wife and wife shatters the sanctity of marriage can live largely free of actual exposure to same-sex couples.

As opposed to having a “boy” stripping and changing into gym togs next to their chaste daughter.

Or, more challenging still, witnessing the daily transformation of a teenager undergoing hormone treatments over the course of a school year.

Hardest of all, empathizing with the constant conflict and isolation experienced by that kid. To love thy neighbor as thyself, to quote Pope Frank’s boss.

Sign the bill. Strike a blow for transgender equality. But don’t forget to check in on the emancipated afterward.