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Government and Politics
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Senate Votes Down Effort To Repeal Transgender Rules

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Sam Howzit
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The Washington Senate narrowly defeated an effort to repeal a rule that allows transgender people to choose whether to use men's or women's facilities.

A new rule that lets transgender people in Washington choose whether to use the men’s or women’s facilities will stand -- for now. The state Senate Wednesday afternoon narrowly defeated an effort to repeal the rule.

The floor debate touched on several issues, including the safety and comfort of families in locker room situations. Democrat Sharon Nelson opposed the repeal effort.

“And what I’ve been hearing from my constituents is ‘I have an eight-year-old son who is my daughter and it is a very, very difficult time for my child. Please do not help and stir up more fear and pass this bill,’” Nelson said.

Republican state Senator Jan Angel said she too was hearing from parents. Angel supported the repeal.

“We’re not trying to take people’s rights. We’re trying to address this as a privacy issue for small children whose parents are coming to us and saying ‘what about us,’” Angel said.

Three suburban Seattle Republicans joined with the majority of state Senate Democrats to vote the repeal down.

The Washington Human Rights Commission approved the transgender access rule last December.