The Bathroom Bill was supposed to be voted on today.
No, I’m not talking about the human rights bill that opponents have tried to tag with that nickname — C-279, which proposes to clarify and enunciate legal protections for most transsexual and transgender Canadians (although the removal of the class “gender expression” has opened some doubt). Although C-279 says nothing about washrooms, opponents have tried to fearmonger about bathrooms, conflate trans people with sexual predators, and/or claim that human rights inclusion would somehow grant legal cover to predators. Bill C-279 passed, today, on a vote of 149 to 137, after first having amendments made to it. It proceeds to the Senate for ratification.
No, what I’m referring to is in fact a bathroom bill.
The State of Arizona has proposed a bill that is eerily reminiscent of the notorious SB 1070 “papers please” law that the U.S. Supreme Court had to rule on in 2012. And this afternoon, the Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee was scheduled to discuss Senate Bill 1432 — a totally innocuous bill which would require the Arizona State Board of Massage Therapy to appoint an Executive Director and outline the Board’s purpose and funding. However, an emergency amendment to it (text) would make it possible for anyone to demand to see a person’s birth certificate, and have them charged with disorderly conduct if their gender marker doesn’t match the washroom’s gender designation.
The bill would make it a class 6 felony to use a public washroom while trans, a crime punishable by up to 6 months in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. In Arizona, a class 6 felony conviction remains on a person’s permanent record, their right to vote is rescinded, potential employers are made aware of the conviction and can require an explanation, various licenses can be refused by the State, federal and state aid and other social assistance can be refused, rent can be denied, and one is banned from ever holding public office.
And it actually has a chance of passing, although it’s dwindling given the sudden media attention.
Rep. John Kavanagh introduced the amendment yesterday, in response to the City of Phoenix’s passage of an ordinance which widened human rights protections to include trans people, among others:
“What about the woman that are waiting in line to use the women’s restroom? There is a long line. They go into the men’s restroom. That’s against this law, isn’t it?” asked CBS 5′s Greg Argos. “Technically it is, but look, police use discretion every day,” Kavanagh responded.
“This is designed to protect young children from being exposed to the other gender in their fullness in inappropriate situations. I’m just restoring sanity, because the Phoenix bill turned gender upside down,” he continued.
You see, during the “bathroom bill” panic dredged up in Phoenix (much like the potty fearmongering circulating in Canada around C-279), legislators discovered that there never has been any legislation in place to bar trans people from using restrooms. Consequently, trans people have been using gender-congruent bathrooms for decades. For that matter, over 180 jurisdictions provide protections, going as far back as 1975, without those human rights protections ever being used to legalize or enable an assault in a washroom. When washroom panic was raised in Baltimore, Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger released a public statement to attest that trans-inclusive legislation has not led to any such bathroom assaults, there.
On the contrary, Baltimore had been the scene of a brutal assault of a trans woman outside a public washroom. The incident garnered national attention, after amused staff at a McDonald’s cheered the fight on, recorded it and posted it on YouTube.
So with that kind of lengthy record of non-issues, Kavanagh just knew that Arizona is due for a potty incident. Naturally, trans peoples’ access to public washrooms had to be stopped right away.
“… The bill makes it a crime for a Transgender person to follow accepted and proven medical treatment protocols that have been employed for over 50 years and are demonstrated to be the only effective and ethical remedy.
The bill makes it legal to engage in the abuse and neglect of children who are gender variant, and stops them from being able to follow medical guidelines supported by every reputable pediatric organization in the nation.
The bill runs directly counter to Supreme Court decisions relating to the legality of using someone’s appearance for the purposes of discriminating against them
The bill is in opposition to the 5th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution by creating a burden of inequality on all Arizonans.
The bill is unnecessary and untested.
The bill requires that everyone in the state of Arizona be required to present their birth certificate, on demand, to anyone with authority at any time, or risk arrest – even if they have a birth certificate that is in accordance with such.”
Abby Jensen notes how this legislation would be likely applied subjectively:
“How would such a law be enforced? By every overzealous restroom patron, security guard, business owner or mere passerby who decides that someone they see entering a restroom doesn’t conform to their notions of how a “man” or “woman” should look and complains to police. In other words, trans men, women and children, butch lesbians, feminine gay men, and straight, cisgender people who violate societal gender norms in some way can be harassed to prove their right to do what every other citizen takes as a given – the right to use a restroom for its intended purpose without harassment…”
Here’s the good news (maybe): SB 1432 has been postponed until next Wednesday, due to a committee procedural conflict. Which might give some time for sanity to prevail.
And by then, Arizona’s state legislature may have found some other puppies to kick.