Capitol Alert

Another California effort targeting transgender bathroom rights stalls

Zoey Luna, a teen who is transgender, photographed in Downey, Calif. for The Sacramento Bee.
Zoey Luna, a teen who is transgender, photographed in Downey, Calif. for The Sacramento Bee. Noelle Gilbert

Another bid to legally compel transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding with their anatomy at birth has stalled out before it could officially get started.

Activists who spent months collecting signatures to put the question before voters conceded they had not gathered the nearly 366,000 needed to qualify for next fall’s statewide ballot. Gina Gleason, a spokesperson for the organization Privacy For All, said there remains a strong desire to rescind a 2-year-old state law allowing people to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identities.

“But,” Gleason said in a statement Monday afternoon, “much of California is still being introduced to the issue.”

Karen England, another advocate with the group, said there was no singular cause for the shortage of signatures.

“Certainly the holiday season is not the best time to make a final push with petitions, but we just did not find the same urgency to enact a new law today as there was two years ago to overturn a law scheduled to be enacted in a matter of weeks,” she said.

In 2013, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the first-of-its-kind Assembly Bill 1266, opponents submitted more than 600,000 signatures for its repeal. Elections officials eventually determined that the advocates were still short of the 505,000 needed that year to put the referendum on the ballot. Privacy For All Students, the original coalition, challenged the rejected petitions in court, where they still hope to prevail.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights groups that were preparing to challenge the bathroom measure celebrated its demise and pointed to two separate statewide public education campaigns they say are needed to counteract widespread misunderstanding about transgender people in society.

Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center, said the failed initiative amounted to a veiled attack on transgender people. The stalled effort “sought to undermine that freedom and single out for harassment anyone who doesn’t meet stereotypes of what it looks like to be male or female,” Hayashi said.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago