When Kathryn Mahan was five-years-old, she knew she was different than other boys. She eventually joined the Army to leave town because she said she was treated like a “freak.”
“It was awful,” she said. “I just wanted to follow the rules and be a good kid, but they taught me to hide by ridiculing me and lecturing me.”
Mahan said she “couldn’t hide it” any longer and became transgender five years ago. She asked lawmakers to consider her situation and not let Senate Bill 6443 pass.
The bill reversed a rule enacted by the Washington State Human Rights Commission in December. That rule requires public buildings to allow transgender individuals to use restrooms and locker rooms of the gender they identify with.
“I finally feel comfortable with who I am. If you pass this bill, it will be possible for anyone who doesn’t like me to harass me while I’m using the bathroom,” Mahan said.
Prime sponsor of the bill Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, said that he believes that every parent has a right to expect that their children will go into a bathroom or locker room shared by other children of the same gender. He also said that the Human Rights Commission rule has too many flaws.
“An issue of this magnitude needed more public discussion,” he said. “There shouldn’t be a statewide rule like this.”
Nearly 300 hundred people signed in to testify. Senate Commerce and Labor Committee chairman Michael Baumgartner said that was the most people he’s seen sign in to testify issue in his six years of being in the Legislature.
Other supporters of the bill want the rule reversed, saying it opens the opens the door to pedophiles and traffickers in women’s restrooms and locker rooms.
“Women’s restrooms and locker rooms are vulnerable places for women and children,” said Angela Connelly President of Washington Women’s Network.
Connelly said the ruling was an attack on the democratic process because it did not go through a legislative process.
Ryan Trainer is the father of a transgender girl . He said that his daughter was four years old when she asked her mom, ‘Why did God made her a boy?’
Trainer and his wife didn’t have a vocabulary for what was happening to their daughter but said that they knew “who she was.”
“Tell me this. How do I explain to my sweet little girl when I tuck her in at night that she can’t use the girls bathroom because people who make our laws think that there something wrong with her,” he said.
“My transgender child is not a threat,” he continued. “Nor will she be when she grows up into a beautiful transgender women. Please don’t take this away from her.”
Paul MacLurg is the owner of Thrive Community Fitness center in Lacey and is in support of the bill. He said it is one of their top priorities to keep women safe when unruly men approach them.
“As a business owner part of my job is to make sure I maintain an environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable,” he said. “Before this rule was in place the law allowed me to use my best judgment. Now I have no other choices.”
He said that a man recently came into his gym after he cancelled his membership at the YMCA because of their new policy with transgender bathrooms. He was concerned about his 13-year-old daughter.
“The first time a visibly looking man goes into the ladies locker room we will have dozens of people cancel their membership,” he explained. This is not a gender issue by any means. This is common sense safety.
Tyler Stewart a family theorist and transgender man from Olympia, said that as a therapist he sees devastating impacts on transgender individuals and their families that are experiencing “anti-trans stigmatization.”
“This bill aims to take away our protection and it reinforces discriminations and it targets people like me,” he said.
He ended his testimony by saying he was a happy and frequent user of Thrive Fitness in Lacey.