Mothers were shocked and Democratic state lawmakers enraged when Rep. John Fillmore (R) called nonbinary transgender children animals during a committee hearing. Fillmore made the comparison Wednesday to underscore, in his mind, why the bill he sponsored, HB 2725 should be approved. Moments later it was narrowly approved by the House Government Elections Committee along partisan lines, 7 republicans for and 6 Democrats against.
Democratic state lawmakers filed an ethics complaint against Fillmore, for making this comparison in front of the three mothers who just testified moments before asking that he not bully their children.
Why HB 2725?
Arizona currently allows binary gender marker changes on driver licenses, male or female. But this only after the applicant is sterilized, has sexual reassignment surgery, and endured numerous medical and psychological certified evaluations, and has a court order verifying the applicant’s sincerity and validity.
Before the vote, Az Mirror reports, lawmakers heard brief but emotional testimony from three mothers of non-binary children. The mothers said Fillmore’s measure is unnecessary and a cruel reminder to their kids that they are not seen and accepted.
Megan Mogan, a mother of three, said one of her kids identifies as non-binary. It is already hard for her to make sure that her child’s school, sports clubs, and medical services recognize her child in accordance with their identity. Morgan lamented HB2725 would guarantee that her child’s identity is never affirmed in state documents.
“This proposed bill would make it that much harder for our child to possess and present accurate documentation when it’s already impossible for them to do so,” Mogan said. “Please reject this bill that promotes erasing non-binary citizens including our child.”
Tucson resident Kristin Downing told the committee she’s the mother of a 14-year-old non-binary child.
“This bill is cruel Downing said. “I am disappointed and frankly frustrated that, instead of spending time and energy alleviating the suffering Arizonans are experiencing during this unprecedented time of uncertainty, our lawmakers are focusing on a bill that achieves nothing other than bullying.”
Another speaker, Tory Roberg, a lobbyist for the Secular Coalition for Arizona, told the committee about a case from 2018 in which a federal court in Colorado prohibited the U.S. State Department from denying a passport to Dana Zzyym, a Navy veteran who identifies as intersex and non-binary, who didn’t mark male or female on the U.S. passport application form.
Roberg said HB2725 moves Arizona backward because it is discriminatory and doesn’t consider the science around gender and sex. She shared that she, too, is a mother of a non-binary child.
“I would want nothing more than an option for them to have their proper gender on their drivers license next year,” Roberg said.
Rep. Raquel Terán, D-Phoenix, asked Roberg, who testified remotely, how HB2725 would impact her child and how she would explain it to them.
“I am afraid that my child can even hear what is going on in the other room,” Roberg responded. “Because this is all very upsetting to them. They know they live in a society where they are not accepted just because of who they are, and it’s important that we love and care for all of our people just the way they are.”
Tucson mother Megan Mogan was literally shaking when she heard the words of an elected representative compare her 15-year-old child to a barnyard animal Reports WLTX.
“It’s dehumanizing to every trans or non-binary person in their state,” Mogan said.
Still shaking after an elected GOP state rep just compared my non-binary child to a barnyard animal. Thank you @AthenaSalman @hamilton4house @RaquelTeran @KelliButlerAZ and @JennJermaine for acknowledging #nonbinarypeopleexist #NoHB2725
— Megan Mogan (@MoganMegan) February 10, 2021
The ethics complaint filed against Fillmore reads in part:
“Representative Fillmore continuously made discriminatory and harassing comments during public testimony and in his response compared members of the LGBTQ+ community to farm animals. By his actions, Representative Fillmore has engaged in conduct that compromises the character of himself, the integrity of the Arizona State House of Representatives, and shows a lack of respect for members of the LGBTQ+ community.”
In a statement to 12 News, Fillmore said:
“The complaint is entirely without merit, and it’s rather unfortunate that some opponents of the bill have unfairly and grossly mischaracterized my comments at Wednesday’s hearing. I invite people to listen to my actual remarks, which do not remotely match the distorted version critics have alleged.”
Beyond his comparison of transgender and non-binary people to chickens, Fillmore said that he “did not want to tear them down or insinuate one way or another.” He continued by saying, “What I’m trying to do is give clarity to our government that when we give identification on a driver’s license where a police officer is told to look for a male or something, things of that nature.”
But then went on to talk about “gender dysfunction” pushed by people on the left allowing men to enter into the restrooms of little girls and creates situations he doesn’t think are “beneficial to society and the nuclear family as a whole.”
— JOHN FILLMORE (@JMFILLMORE) November 13, 2020
Fillmore, a free election opponent, and trump sycophant tweeted after November 6th indicating he believed that the election was rigged. Prior to that, in a retweet, he also confirmed that in his opinion that there were ‘good people’ on both sides at the racist torchlight march.
House Bill 2082 would create a new law that would require a school superintendent, principal, teacher or any other school employee to use the sex or gender pronoun that “corresponds to the sex listed on that student’s birth certificate.”
If an employee of a school refuses to do so, a school could be penalized, though the bill does not outline what that penalty would be. Fillmore did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
One impetus for the bill might be the firing last year of an art teacher at Arizona College Preparatory in Chandler after she allegedly discriminated against a transgender student, refused to call another transgender student by their preferred name and routinely proselytized her Christian faith to her class.