Republican lawmakers in eight states are introducing restrictive laws to inhibit and intimidate transgender citizens with “bathroom bills.”
As reported in The Hill, Republican legislators have targeted transgender rights by introducing bills to control access to bathrooms and locker rooms in new states.
Alabama, South Carolina, and (surprisingly) Washington legislators filed new “bathroom bills” last year before their sessions ended. Additional states include Kentucky, Missouri, Minnesota, Texas, and Virginia, who had new, similar bills showing up during the first days of their 2017 sessions.
Most of the bills are based on a North Carolina law that passed last year. The bill was meant to override a Charlotte city ordinance that allowed people to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity. The state bill was introduced by North Carolina Republicans and since passed, has caused nothing but havoc and financial loss to the state when many businesses and several sports organizations boycotted the state because of the discriminatory law.
The new bills in the eight additional states would require that facilities controlled by state government, including schools and public buildings, designate bathroom and locker room use based on biological sex, rather than gender identity.
The Alabama bill is even more outrageous and requires that all facilities that have bathrooms designate them by biological sex. It would also impose fines of up to $3,500 for businesses that don’t comply with the new state-mandated bathroom usage law.
The Virginia bill also impinges on personal rights and autonomy by specifically prohibiting someone of one biological sex from entering the bathroom designated for the opposite sex.
In Texas, the “bathroom bill” is backed by conservative Republican, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and would prohibit governments from passing laws relating to the use of restrooms and locker rooms. A statement from Patrick says:
‘The people of Texas elected us to stand up for common decency, common sense and public safety. This legislation codifies what has been common practice in Texas and everywhere else forever — that men and women should use separate, designated bathrooms.’
What Patrick refuses to acknowledge is that the concept of “men” and “women” is not always a matter of biology alone.
Many organizations stand in opposition to this excess of interest by state legislators. LGBTQ rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union are naturally in opposition to such excess measures over such personal matters.
But perhaps most surprisingly, many business advocacy groups are also in direct opposition. After the damage done to North Carolina due to the ridiculous “bathroom bill” to the tune of the millions of dollars lost to local businesses and workers, many such groups feel that discriminatory state laws will only lead to backlash and boycotting as businesses work to distance themselves from a perception of bigotry.
State Chamber of Commerce affiliate, The Texas Association of Business, says that Patrick’s discriminatory law could cost the state up to $8.5 billion.
The association’s president, Chris Wallace, said:
‘The so-called Texas Privacy Act won’t make restrooms any safer for men, women and children, and it will do far more harm to them than good. This legislation will needlessly jeopardize jobs, investment, innovation and tax revenue for our state, and it sullies our reputation as an open, inclusive and welcoming state.’
Last year, the Obama administration provided guidance to schools over the use of restrooms, suggesting that transgender students be allowed to use the facility that best met their identity. This directive was issued by the U.S. Department of Education in May 2016 with other suggestions for helping vulnerable youth feel more comfortable in an academic environment and to accommodate transgender students by providing them with privacy and dignity.
A Texas judged filed a nationwide injunction against the directive, even though the directive doesn’t have the force of law.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 24 states have considered “bathroom bills” since 2012. And thankfully, most of them have failed. North Carolina is the only state to have passed one into law.
According to Forbes magazine, North Carolina “flushed away” $630 million in lost revenue thanks to their “bathroom bill.” These figures include the $44 million and 400 jobs that PayPal would have invested in a new business center in Charlotte, along with several major sporting events, and investment into research facilities.
The South Dakota legislature passed a version of the “bathroom bill” in 2016, but thankfully, their sensible Republican governor, Dennis Daugaard, vetoed it. According to The Hill, The Family Heritage Alliance has threatened to introduce another bill this year, and if it should fail, the organization will try to get it on the ballot for voters in 2018.
Republican Evangelicals have to stop wasting time with these ridiculous, discriminatory, and let’s face it, economy-killing laws. Hard-line right-wing fanatics are costing taxpayers and American families millions of dollars in good jobs, as well as tax revenue for public schools, infrastructure, and public safety. And all for the sick and twisted privilege of targeting and humiliating a small percentage of the population (approximately 0.6 percent of American adults).
Featured image via Getty Images
H/T: The Hill