April 1, 2023

GENDER FINE: Republican legislator’s new attack on transgender identities

GENDER FINE: Republican legislator's new attack on transgender identities

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North Dakota Republican David Clemens seems really, really worried about transgender people existing in his state — to such an extent that he’s promoted legislation to, for all intents and purposes, ban them, and fine them for existing.

The good news is that the state’s Senate Judiciary panel is recommending that the bill, which implements a $1,500 fine, not be passed, although it still must go through the voting process.

The bad news is that Clemens and others who support this bill remain in office, able to push forward equally discriminatory legislation.

Clemens introduced the bill, taking time to display his own ignorance of science and medicine as he stumbled over the words “deoxyribonucleic acid” (pro-tip: it’s actually okay to just say “DNA”) and failed to answer one of his colleagues’ questions about how the DNA tests would be funded.

He kept repeating, instead, that the testing “is a blood draw” and said that determining sex chromosomes is “probably the simplest test of a DNA [sic].”

“This is not complicated,” he insisted, as he struggled to explain that the bill wouldn’t allow anyone to simply challenge another person’s gender, but that someone attempting to change pronouns, for example, in a school, would have to use a DNA test to “prove” their gender.

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Asked about intersex people, he indicated that this would just have to be figured out later, before changing his mind and saying intersex people could get a DNA test too, “and we’ll determine what you are.” About schools, he tried to explain:

“Say, they’re a boy, but they come to school and say they’re a girl. As far as that school is concerned in this bill, that person is still a boy. If it becomes contested, the burden will be on the girl, the so-called girl, or the boy, to prove that he is a girl.”

He argued that the bill would not affect anyone’s freedom of expression, only the way that government entities interacted with that identity, asserting that the sex assigned at birth is “truth” and that the government is in the business of truth. However, his bill says:

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“Words referring to an individual, person, employer, employee, contestant, participant, member, student, or juvenile must be used in the context of that person’s sex as determined at birth…Any person that violates this section must be assessed a fee of one thousand five hundred dollars.”

If there was any doubt how this elected representative really feels about the transgender community, a meme posted on his Facebook page reinforces his hate.

In the image, a little girl asks her mother, “What did the lady mean when she said what her pronouns are?”

The mother replies, “It means she’s insane, so you’ll need to stay away from her.”

Washington Press has reached out to Clemens both by phone and email to query him about his defense of this untenably bigoted legislation, but he had not responded by publication time.

His outgoing voicemail message, incidentally, does use his pronouns.

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