Rep. Billy Wesley pre-filed two bills leading up to the 2023 legislative session. One seeks to deny transgender people rights to use school bathrooms of their gender identity, and the other would prevent medical practicioners from identifying the sex of a newborn as any anything other than male or female. It's been reported that currently no sex identity option aside from male and female exist in any government documents in Kentucky.
In 2015 a similar "bathroom bill" was proposed in Kentucky which passed the Senate's but died in the at that time majority Democrat House. Wesley’s drafted bills are remarkably similar to the verbiage used in this 2015 bill.
Democratic Rep. Keturah Herron, from Louisville, said bills like this could create opportunity for “further attacks on human rights as a whole.”
“We need our allies to understand that if anytime one group of people are being discriminated against and it’s allowed, then it leaves room for other people to be discriminated against,” Herron said.
If passed, Kentucky would be one of two states in the country to ban the use of any gender marker other than male or female. Wesley's bill draft is nearly identical to the language used in Oklahoma's law, which passed this year despite objections from the nation's first nonbinary state lawmaker.
“What we do know is that LGBTQ+ groups are at risk of mental health issues, they’re at risk of suicide, so if they really want to protect kids in general they need to put in resources for mental health services and measures that are going to make our communities and our schools safe,” Heron said.
Chris Hartman, Executive Director of the Fairness Campaign said that while the “bathroom bill” failed in 2015, it’s a "lightning rod moment" for anti-trans legislation further sparked by the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision on equal marriage.
“National conservative think tanks needed to find a different LGBTQ+ issue with which they could divide people, and they seized upon transgender rights. All of this is for political points and political posturing, none of this is a real priority in our state,” Hartman said.
Hartman further stated that while Wesley’s proposed bills are only working drafts, it’s probably one of many bills the state legislature could consider that impact transgender rights in the state.
“This is the tip of the iceberg. We’ll see many bills that either target the LGBTQ+ community or specifically target trans kids this legislative session. This is all part of a marked increase across the nation for a problem that doesn’t exist,” Hartman said.
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