Transgender community discusses proposed restroom ID law

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Members of Chicago's transgender community are adding their voices to a proposed Chicago ordinance. (WLS)

Members of Chicago's transgender community are adding their voices to a proposed Chicago ordinance.

The proposed city law would block public places from requiring an ID to prove a person's gender identity before they can access restrooms and fitting rooms in Chicago.

A council committee on human relations listened to testimony from people who support the measure introduced last month to decide if an ordinance should be revised so anyone can walk into any restroom regardless of the sign on the door.

Mickey Mahoney, an educator born female, said he was recently stared down at O'Hare airport when he sought relief.

"They watched me the entire time, kind of policing my gender," Mahoney said.

Proponents of the rule change said the anxiety such scrutiny provokes is what would disappear if the rules are changed.

"We need to start dismantling these systems that don't recognize people like me," said Lilly Wachowski, director of The Matrix.

Some aldermen objected.

"I grew up with a lot of knuckleheads, I was a knucklehead," said Alderman Nicholas Sposato of the 38th Ward. "I see guys doing stupid things, like now they want to go into the girl's bathroom."

Chicago's commissioner for human relations said society will police this kind of situation over time. Still, some spoke for those uncomfortable with the prospect of what will essentially be unisex bathrooms.

"It is the issue of policing the other folks whether it be the knuckleheads or other people and that is the concern," said Alderman Patrick Thompson of the 11th Ward.

But the committee chair and some colleagues said society will evolve.

"You will have people in the council who won't support this, but I think the vast majority know that times are changing," said Alderman Pat Dowell of the 3rd Ward.

The full council will take up the issue at the June 22nd meeting.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel supports the measure and sees the change as necessary as he goes after businesses that are rethinking their engagements in North Carolina.

In North Carolina, lawmakers passed a law prohibiting people from bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates.

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