Two bills aimed at eliminating obstacles facing transgender people cleared the Assembly largely along party lines Thursday, including one measure to let students choose the bathroom and sports team that correlates with their gender identity.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said his Assembly Bill 1266 would force school districts to comply with current laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender students.
Several school districts, including Los Angeles Unified and San Francisco Unified, already have policies letting students participate in activities and use facilities for the gender they identify with. Ammiano said his bill ensures that all students have equal access.
"No student can learn if they feel they have to hide who they are at school or if they are singled out for unequal treatment," he said.
AB 1266 passed 45-24, with Republicans voicing opposition.
"I do not believe that by allowing individuals of opposite sex to use the same restrooms makes any sense at all, and I think the vast majority of Californians deeply oppose this," said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks.
Republican Curt Hagman of Chino Hills said Ammiano's bill is not practical, particularly when it comes to middle and high school students changing and showering in a locker room.
Several Democrats spoke in support of Ammiano's bill, including Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who said one of his staff members "has transitioned."
"When he entered the building, he was Heather," Ting said. "This courageous person is a part of a courageous community. ... We have to do everything possible to make sure we are supportive of that and support their courage," he added.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, Transgender Law Center and Gay Straight Alliance Network sponsored the bill.
The Capitol Resource Institute, a faith-based political action group in Sacramento, opposes Ammiano's measure, saying in a statement that the Legislature was imposing a "radical policy" on schools.
The lower house also passed Assembly Bill 1121 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, to make it easier for transgender people to change the name and gender listed on their birth certificate.
That measure, which passed 55-16, creates an optional administrative procedure for transgender people born in California to amend their birth certificate without a court order.
AB 1121 applies only to people who have undergone "clinically appropriate treatment" and requires an affidavit from a physician.
The proposal would also exempt transgender people from laws requiring name-change petitions to be published in court records or newspapers.
"This bill would eliminate some of the potentially exposing and humiliating aspects of the legal, public process for transgender people," said Atkins, adding that the measure's provisions are similar to the privacy options available to domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
Both bills will now head to the Senate.
Call Melody Gutierrez, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5521. Follow her on Twitter @melodygutierrez.