Chicago aldermen approve transgender restroom measure

The transgender bathroom issue is on the minds of city aldermen.

On Wednesday, a proposal to let people choose the public restroom of their choice won approval from a City Council committee. However, some aldermen fear troublemakers could exploit the new rules. 

Joseph Betancourt is a real estate agent and developer who built his company's headquarters on West Division Street. What few knew until today: he was born biologically female. He's lived as a man since running away from home at age 14, and testified at City Hall in favor of new rules for transgender people.

“I needed to come out today and tell people that I am transgender and that I feel that people that are transgender are getting discriminated against,” Betancourt said.

Also at the City Council hearing and posing for pictures with star struck aldermen was Chicagoan Lilly Wachowski. She helped write and produce "The Matrix" series of blockbuster movies. Once Andy Wachowski, she and her former brother, now her sister, have both come out as transgender.

“I want to be a part of this important human rights struggle,” Wachowski said.

Existing city law specifically allows "discrimination based on sex, which is distinctly private in nature, such as restrooms, shower rooms, bathhouses, dressing rooms and health clubs." The proposed amendment would add ‘sex,’ which includes both biological category and gender identity. “Each person determines his or her own gender identity; no proof shall be required..."

After the hearing, two aldermen told FOX 32 they still fear that "troublemakers" could exploit the new transgender rules.

“Young people who are just being young and silly who went into a girls' locker room and then saying, ‘You know what? I identify as a woman.’ Just to look at girls' breasts and stuff like that,” said Alderman David Moore.

“That's what scares me. We're just leaving this open. There are no guidelines for this,” said Alderman Anthony Napolitano.

Supporters plan to push for passage of the transgender proposal at the next City Council meeting, which is June 22nd. The mayor says he'll sign it into law.

Chicago Public Schools announced its own guidelines on the transgender bathroom issue. It states students can use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. But it says that identity must be consistently asserted at school.