Both Sides Of Transgender Bill Debate Speak Out

Measure Proposed By Assemblywoman Toni Atkins Would Amend State Non-Discrimination Laws

Critics are sounding off on a proposed state bill that would grant greater protection for transgendered people in the workplace and allow for cross-dressing.

Six years ago, Steve began living his life as a woman named Vicki Estrada. She owns her own business in San Diego and has not faced workplace discrimination, but she told 10News her transgendered friends have.

"They had 10 to 15 years with a company and bammo, they transition and they're fired, immediately," said Estrada.

That scenario is one target of a proposed law co-sponsored by local Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-76th District). The bill would amend state non-discrimination laws and the term gender to include gender identity and expression.

"It's absolutely a civil rights issue," said Atkins.

Atkins said the bill simply makes clear existing state laws, which have supported transgender rights, including the right to cross-dress in the workplace.

The city of San Diego has already adopted a similar measure.

"We have an obligation to make sure and clarify the law," said Atkins.

Critics say that clarification will lead to trouble in the workplace.

Attorney Dean Broyles said gender identity is not a civil right.

"It's going to be very confusing for other employees and customers, including parents to tell children what's going on," said Broyles.

Broyles is also concerned about public restrooms and wonders just who is entering which bathroom. He said he believes the confusion will cause customers and vendors to bail.

"It'll drive away business and create more business problems in our community," said Broyles.

"What do you say to businesses who say we're going to lose business?" 10News reporter Michael Chen asked Atkins.

"It's already law in California. It hasn't been a problem for San Diego," Atkins replied.

Despite the bill, it's believed transgender employees would still have to follow company dress codes for the gender they identify with.

The bill, which passed the Assembly, now heads to the state Senate.

The measure has very little support in San Diego County, according to a scientific 10News poll.

The poll shows 33 percent of San Diegans think employees should be allowed to cross-dress at work, within the company dress code. Sixty percent say they should not.

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