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John Kavanagh, Arizona State Representative, Defends Transgender Bathroom Bill

04/03/2013 10:29 am 10:29:59 | Updated Feb 02, 2016

The Arizona state legislator who received national attention for promoting a harsh anti-transgender bill aimed at prosecuting transgender people for using a public restroom if their gender appearance didn't match the gender on their identification said yesterday that his effort is indeed “targeting” transgender people, but “only with respect to public accommodations where there is an expectation of privacy” and is about “a balancing of rights.” (Listen to the full interview below)

After an uproar over what one TV news station dubbed the "Show Me Your Papers Before You Go Potty" bill, Rep. John Kavanagh softened the bill somewhat. It now seeks to protect businesses from civil or criminal liability if they ban transgender people from restrooms if their identification doesn’t match their gender appearance. But Kavanagh admitted in an interview on my SiriusXM OutQ radio program that the new version of the bill, which passed a Arizona House committee last week, still partly rescinds the newly enacted ordinance by the city of Phoenix banning discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. He also admitted that transgender people will still be subject to possible arrest.

“What the business could do is, they could have sex-specific bathrooms, locker rooms and public -- and showers and if it’s specific to one gender they could restrict somebody from going in there,” Kavanagh said. “And if the person refused, I guess [the business] could always call the police. But if they wanted to allow transgender people in they could just to do that.”

Kavanagh said his concern is less about public rest rooms and more about locker rooms and gyms with shower facilities.

“First of all, the bathroom wasn’t the major issue,” he explained. “The real purpose of my bill was for showers. What Phoenix did was allow someone who is biologically male who thinks they’re female to go into a gym or a swimming pool shower or a locker room where people undress completely and this could be a woman or a girl or a young girl. I’ve had a number of parents say that they would be outraged if a man, a person who is biologically male, is in the locker room.”

Kavanagh could not point to cases in which pedophiles posed as transgender women -- what he called the “transgender ruse” -- in order to get access to women’s public facilities, but said the issue was more about discomfort. Asked if discomfort, and anger by parents, is a reason to discriminate against a group, Kavanagh said yes, because of “trauma,” and called it using “the race card” to make a comparison to those whites who expressed discomfort or disgust at being in the same public rest room as blacks before laws were enacted banning discrimination.

“Anybody who is concerned about a black person in a restaurant is sick, but a parent who is concerned about a young child in a locker room in this situation is a good parent in my opinion,” he said. “What we have here essentially is a balancing of rights. The right not to be exposed. I think there’s psychological harm to a young girl exposed to the genitalia of the opposite sex. I think there’s some trauma there for some young girls. I don’t think it’s appropriate in that environment.”

When pressed again about actual physical harm and cases of sexual assault by men who posed as transgender women, Kavanagh oddly referred to New York’s Times Square in years past.

“Well, I was a cop for 20 years, most of the time in Times Square when Times Square was not the Disneyland they created now,” he said. “And believe me, there were many bizarre things that people would do. I wouldn’t put it past a very small minority of deviant people to use the transgender ruse.”

What about the civil rights of a group discriminated against?

I don’t believe there’s a civil right in a place where you have an expectation of privacy,” Kavanagh answered.

Listen to the full interview below:

Also on HuffPost:

15 Things To Know About Being Transgender By Nicholas M. Teich
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