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Transgender Access To Restrooms, Locker Rooms Spurs Impassioned Debate

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Advocates on both sides of the debate over transgender people's access to restrooms or locker rooms packed a hearing room in Olympia Wednesday.

Allowing transgender people access to the restroom or locker room of their choice stirs strong feelings. Advocates on both sides of that debate packed a hearing room in Olympia Wednesday.

They testified on a Republican proposal to repeal a new state rule that leaves the choice with the user and not the owner of the facility.

Paul MacLurg owns a fitness center in Lacey, Washington, and supports the repeal.

“As a business owner part of my job is to make sure I maintain an environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable,” MacLurg said. “Before this rule was in place the law allowed me to use my best judgment. Now I have no good choices, no protection from the law.”

Ryan Trainer argued to keep the rule allowing transgender access. He’s the parent of a young transgender daughter.

“This is our child, like everyone here we are doing our best to love her, support here and to keep her safe,” Trainer said. “She is deserving of respect and protection just like all of the children in Washington state. Please don’t take this way from her.”

The rule was enacted last month by Washington’s Human Rights Commission.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."