Utah State Rep. Jacob Anderegg (left) and Sen. Wayne Niederhauser.
Utah Lawmakers Joke About Trans People, Apologize

By Parker Marie Molloy

Originally published on Advocate.com February 04 2014 3:32 PM ET

On Monday, Utah State Rep. Jacob Anderegg tweeted a joke that pokes fun at transgender people, and suggests that they change their gender identity on a whim. The joke, which some found to be in poor taste, prompted the lawmaker to apologize.

"The private Men's bathrom in the House office building is occupied," tweeted Anderegg Monday. "Strongly considering a gender identifying change to use the open womens."

In response to Anderegg's tweet, Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, president of the Utah State Senate, wrote, "First supporting SB 100, now switching your gender identity? Just can't keep up with you. You're a new man! erm... woman..."

While the tweets were questionable, they come from legislators in a state struggling to get a handle on LGBT issues. As the state begins mounting a federal case that hopes to overturn a court ruling which briefly allowed marriage equality through the state, legislators have been told to hold off on introducing new bills dealing in LGBT matters.

When that moratorium on LGBT legislation is lifted, it's expected that lawmakers will present two bills for debate. Senate Bill 100, referenced in Niederhauser's tweet, would expand nondiscrimination efforts in the state, banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing.

The second piece of legislation, House Bill 87, introduced by Niederhauser's colleague Sen. Michael Kennedy, would effectively redefine the word "gender" in the state code, and prohibit transgender individuals from using restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

Since the tweets were exchanged Monday, both Anderegg and Niederhauser have issued apologies, though Sen. Niederhauser insists that an intern was responsible for his tweet. Both lawmakers have since spoken with LGBT advocates.

See the tweets below:

The private Men's bathroom in the House office building is occupied. Strongly considering a gender identifying change to use the open womens

— Jacob Anderegg (@Political_Jake) February 3, 2014

@Political_Jake First supporting SB 100, now switching your gender identity? Just can't keep up with you. You're a new man! erm... woman...

— Wayne Niederhauser (@waynenieder) February 3, 2014

My response to @Political_Jake at 10:32 this morning was an intern tweet. It does not represent my point of view.

— Wayne Niederhauser (@waynenieder) February 3, 2014

@TroyWilliamsSLC Thanks for your perspective and insight today. Things happen for a reason - maybe we can turn this into something good.

— Wayne Niederhauser (@waynenieder) February 3, 2014

@Political_Jake I sincerely apologize. My earlier comments regarding Transgender issues was totally inappropriate. I own it. And I apologize

— Jacob Anderegg (@Political_Jake) February 3, 2014

@EricEthington @waynenieder As always, when I find I have put my foot in my mouth it is always helpful to work to learn from it. I intend to

— Jacob Anderegg (@Political_Jake) February 3, 2014

@utpolcapitol I attended the discussion/training. It was very informative and insightful. I am glad I took the time to learn more. Thanks.

— Jacob Anderegg (@Political_Jake) February 4, 2014

Contributor: 
Parker Marie Molloy