Wave of state anti-transgender bathroom bills looms
Over the last several years, the US has experienced unprecedented progress for its LGBT citizens. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a targeted backlash from legislators and activists against the LGBT community via a number of anti-transgender bills.
A wave of anti-transgender bills
The Fenway Institute and the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a policy brief early this January that noted more and more state and local legislatures across the country were considering controversial bills that would restrict access of gendered public facilities.
These bills would control access to restrooms and locker rooms based on sex-assigned birth rather than on gender identity as a means to prevent transgender people from using public facilities.
The brief also debunked myths about safety concerns regarding the use of these spaces by transgenders, and described a number of negative outcomes that these discriminatory bills could cause.
States considering anti-transgender bills
In 2015, the state legislatures of Texas, Kentucky, Florida, Minnesota and Missouri were all considering implementing these bills.
More recently, Houston repealed an equal rights ordinance that banned discrimination based on gender identity, among other protected categories.
This new wave of anti-transgender legislation follows historical precedents of using the law to go against equal rights.
“A Texas bill would make it a felony for transgender people to use public restrooms consistent with their gender identity and would place responsibility for enforcement with those who operate the public restroom,” said Tim Wang, LGBT Health Policy Analyst at The Fenway Institute and lead author of the brief.
“Preventing people who are transgender from accessing public restrooms consistent with their gender identity could promote abuse and discrimination,” Wang said.
The Arizona anti-transgender bill
In Arizona, Rep. John Kavanaugh introduced a bill that would require people suspected of being transgender to show a birth certificate before entering a public restroom.
If the gender doesn’t match, these people would be arrested. The bill was withdrawn due to community outcry, with some calling it the “papers, please bill” as unfairly criminalizing the LGBT.
However, that hasn’t stopped Rep. Kavanaugh from filing Arizona Senate Bill 1045 (or as local residents called it, “no loo for you”), which would permit business owners to restrict access to gender-specific facilities based on a person’s gender identity or gender expression.
Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center, said: “This bill is unfair, unnecessary, and based on unfounded stereotypes about transgender people who simply want to be treated with the same fairness and dignity as everyone else.”
No danger despite anti-transgender fears
Despite the proposed discriminatory bills, there is no data that transgenders allowed to use public restrooms that align with their gender identity lead to an increase in sexual harassment or abuse of other people using the facilities.
In fact, research has shown that transgender people are the ones who take the brunt of discrimination and sexual harassment when they use public accommodations.
This prejudice eventually leads to a variety of negative physical and mental outcomes, as well as having a negative impact on transgender people’s access to equal opportunities for employment, education and socialization.
“Denying transgender people access to facilities that are necessary for all of us to go about our daily lives, such as restrooms, contributes to minority stress and can exacerbate negative health outcomes already affecting transgender people,” said Laura E. Durso, Director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at CAP.
“These efforts significantly limit the ability of transgender people to fully and equally participate in civic and public life,” Durso said of the anti-transgender moves by lawmakers.