Thursday, January 12, 2012

Unjust Transphobic Bills Introduced In Tennessee

Remember when I mentioned that one of the things we needed to do as a community was utterly discredit, crush and destroy the bathroom predator meme being aimed at us by foe and frenemy?  

Here's Exhibit A as to why it needs to be discredited, crushed under an avalanche of scientific fact and utterly destroyed to the point where people laugh at you for bringing it up.

Peep the bill the Tennessee General Assembly introduced less than 24 hours after the session started in Nashville on Tuesday. 

Transphobic bills have been introduced in both the Tennessee Senate and the House that would make it a class "C" misdemeanor for a trans person to be using a "restroom" or "dressing room" not designated by their "sex" listed on their "birth certificate."

Tennessee has a 65-34 Republican majority in the House and a 20-13 Republican majority in the state senate.   Passage of these bills and Republican Governor Bill Haslam's signature of them will put Tennessee transsexuals at significant risk and in a Catch 22 situation as Tennessee will NOT change the sex designation on the birth certificate even if the transperson in question has had SRS.

So yeah, I smell a civil rights lawsuit coming on this one if it does pass, especially when you don't allow people born in Tennessee to change the gender designations on their birth certificates.

Senate Bill 2282 was introduced by Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson)

House Bill 2279 was introduced by Representative Richard Floyd (R-Chattanooga)


AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 68, Chapter 15, Part 3, relative to public restrooms and dressing rooms.


SECTION 1 Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 68, Chapter 15, Part 3, is amended by adding the following language as a new section:

(a) As used in this section:

(1) “Sex” means and refers only to the designation of an individual person as male or female as indicated on the individual’s birth certificate;
(2) “Public building” means a building owned or leased by the state, any agency or instrumentality of the state or any political subdivision of the state;
(3) “Restroom” means a room maintained within or on the premises of any public building and made available to the public, containing toilet facilities for use by employees or the public;
(5) “Dressing room” means a room maintained within or on the premises of any public building, used primarily for changing clothes.

(b) Except as provided in § 68-15-303, where a restroom or dressing room in a public building is designated for use by members of one particular sex, only members of that particular sex shall be permitted to use that restroom or dressing room.

(c) A violation of subsection (b) is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a to a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00).

SECTION 2. If any provision of this act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to that end the provisions of this act are declared to be severable.

SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

Been advised by an attorney friend that the proposed bill would also affect transpeople transiting through airports (Delta and Southwest have hubs in Memphis and Nashville), bus stations or simply using a rest area bathroom along interstate highways in Tennessee. 

Interstates 24, 26, 40, 55, 65, 69, 75 and 81 either traverse through or in the I-55/I-69 case, it has a small multiplexed segment of it transiting through the Volunteer State in the Memphis area.

If the unjust bill passes I can already imagine a scenario in which a transwoman has to handle her nature call, heads to the bathroom and some overzealous security guard or some transphobic hater finds a cop while that person is handling their business and then drama starts before or after they exit the lavatory.  

And yeah, it isn't just a trans problem.   You cis people with androgynous looks or who get ignorantly pegged as trans by the unwashed masses will be affected by this as well.

So yeah, for those of us who don't live in Tennessee, it's officially our business too.  Besides, why should any transwoman or a cis woman with ambiguous gender characteristics have to show ID to go to a fracking bathroom?

Once again, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition and its allies have their work cut out for them in Nashville in terms of killing these unjust bills.  

Let us know Tennessee trans family how your brothers and sisters around the country and the world can help you with that task.

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