Colorado escapes transgender politics battle, for now
Author: John Tomasic - February 24, 2017 - Updated: February 24, 2017
Colorado law passed nearly a decade ago protects the right of transgender and queer students to choose to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities.
Democratic Governor Bill Ritter in 2008 signed the Anti-Discrimination Act that outlawed discrimination against LGBTQ Coloradans in “places of public accommodations.”
That means the Trump administration’s new federal guidelines on the issue would appear to be legally irrelevant in the state, even while they sent a strong signal that new arch conservative Attorney General Jeff Sessions is exerting strong influence on social issues at the White House and that he’s targeting gay rights for rollback.
The news from Washington prompted fast response from gay rights group One Colorado, which issued a statement with a short history of the law in the state and a petition to the Trump administration that supporters could sign voicing their opposition to rights rollbacks.
“Coloradans know that protecting and defending our LGBTQ youth saves lives and that every student deserves to feel safe, welcome, and empowered to make change in their school.”
The flap underlined the value of state provisions that better the lives of transgender residents. It’s a lesson Colorado gay rights supporters will take into committee rooms at the Capitol in the coming weeks.
On March 9, the House judiciary committee will take up a transgender cause that has stalled for years.
The committee will hear House Bill 1122, this year’s version of the Birth Certificate Modernization Act. It is sponsored by legislative gay caucus members Rep. Daneya Esgar, a Democrat from Pueblo, and Dominick Moreno, a Democrat from Commerce City. This year’s version, same as previous versions, aims to streamline and update the process through which transgender Coloradans might alter the gender listed on their certificates.
As the law stands now, changing the gender on a birth certificate means having to undergo sex-reassignment surgery and then delivering a doctor’s note to a judge, who then issues a court order to a registrar. It’s a process that takes at least a year and that produces only an amended document that records the gender as altered.
Critics of the system say it is outdated, clunky and humiliating. Parents testifying in favor of the bill in the past have said their transgender children were too young for surgery and that the idea of the state forcing them into the operating room was dangerous and inappropriate.
But critics of the bill said it opened up residents to a kind of gender fraud, in which naive suitors could be tricked into marriage as the product of an extended romantic hoax or college athletic directors might be fooled into giving men scholarships meant for women. Others said the bill doesn’t solve a problem so much as it caters to the gay lobby. Still others said they thought human relationships not the law should bring social change and acceptance.