- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Maryland moms and dads will now have to be more vigilant when their children use public bathrooms. It will soon be legal for a man who simply says he identifies as a woman to use the ladies’ room.

This serious risk for sexual assaults of women and little girls is all in the name of political correctness. And this is just the latest in a string of successes by the transgender lobby.

On Friday, the Maryland House passed legislation that prohibits discrimination based on “gender identity” in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations — which, most disturbingly, includes restrooms.

The state Senate passed the same bill earlier in the month. Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to sign it, and it will go into effect on Oct. 1.

The most dangerous impact of this new law is that a man cannot be stopped from going into a women’s bathroom, locker room or pool changing room.

The state does not specify that a person must have undergone a sex-change operation to have their legal rights of “gender identity” protected.

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A man doesn’t even have to dress like a woman.

To be considered transgender, you just have to give a “consistent and uniform assertion” of believing you are supposed to be the opposite sex. Or, a person has to provide evidence that the non-biological sex is “sincerely held as part of the person’s core identity.”

“How do you judge ‘sincerely held?’ Sexual predators and pedophiles are mentally ill. So having them say ‘I sincerely feel in my heart I’m a woman’ is not a stretch,” Delegate Kathy Szeliga, the minority whip, said in an interview Tuesday.

The Republican, who represents Baltimore and Harford counties, attempted to have the bill amended to exempt any place where a woman or girl disrobes and does not expect to see a man. The change was rejected.

“This leadership in Annapolis would rather ram this down on citizens than respect and protect women and girls,” Ms. Szeliga said. “Their attempt to protect a tiny percentage of people from discrimination opened up half of our population to potential predators who would use this law nefariously.”

No one knows exactly how many people believe they were born the wrong sex and want to act out on it. A Los Angeles County Department of Public Health report in 2012 estimates that 0.2 percent of the population is transgender.

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Even if we accept this very high count, that means 12,000 of the 6 million Marylanders will benefit by this law that endangers every female.

Those outraged by this bill are considering a plan to assess whether there is enough financial and grass-roots support for a referendum in November.

A total of 55,736 signatures would be needed by May 31, but the state’s board of election recommends getting 20 percent to 30 percent more to compensate for the ones that are ruled invalid.

The other major challenge for a referendum this year is that the Democrats control the wording of the ballots, so it would likely read: “Do you support the Fairness for All Marylanders Act?” The public would need to be educated on the real meaning of that pleasant-sounding statute.

In California, voters are trying to challenge a similar law passed last year that allows “transgender” students the right to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers that are intended for the opposite sex.

An organization called Privacy of all Students got almost a half-million signatures to put the issue to a referendum, but the California secretary of state reported that more than 130,000 were invalid.

In response, the group filed a suit brought by the Pacific Justice Institute that says the state unlawfully disqualified signatures and disenfranchised thousands of voters.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., health insurance companies are now forced to cover elective sex-change operations. Mayor Vincent C. Gray — who was defeated in the Democratic primary on Tuesday — deemed wanting to change your genitalia as a medical condition that requires health plans to pay for.

“These residents should not have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses for medically necessary treatment when those without gender dysphoria do not,” Mr. Gray said in the February announcement. He added that this was part of a process of “incorporating gender identity and expression as protected classes in the District’s health insurance laws.”

Mandatory insurance coverage for sex-change operations and men using women’s bathrooms are the kind of nonsense laws that happens when liberal politicians act on emotional appeals, rather than facts and common sense.

One upside to the Maryland bathroom bill is that I will no longer have to stand in the long line for the women’s bathroom at an Orioles game at Camden Yards. I’ll just don a baseball cap and saunter into an empty stall in the men’s room, averting my eyes from the wall of urinals.

If anyone stops me, I’ll say I feel like a man.

Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of“Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).

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