Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Transphobic “Bathroom Bill” Introduced in TN Legislature

Nashville, Tennessee – A bill making the use of a bathroom by transgender persons a punishable offense is making its way through the Tennessee Legislation, according to Daily Kos.  Transgender people are put in an insidious double-bind by the proposed bill: if passed, it will fine a person for the use of a restroom if the sex on that person’s birth certificate does not match the assigned sex of the toilet, while Tennessee does not allow for the sex assignment on a person’s birth certificate to be changed.  The “Bathroom Bill” imposes a monetary fine on offenders – $50 – but the fine is the least of the legislation’s harm to transgender people.  As Daily Kos and the Huffington Post point out, this bill would embed structural discrimination against a class of people into state law, much as sodomy laws did before the Lawrence v. Texas ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court struck them down across the nation in 2003.

The Volunteer State has entertained some of the most regressive, homophobic laws in the nation, typified by the reprehensible “Don’t Say Gay” and “License to Bully” bills, and as long as the radical, extremist right wing is in power in the state, the cavalcade of bias-driven laws is unlikely to stop.  The “Don’t Say Gay” bill bans use of the words “gay” or “homosexual” in a Tennessee public school classroom (while, as Signorile says, “pervert” or “sodomite” are fine!) to prevent teaching or discussion about same-sex issues.  The “License to Bully” bill, if passed, would offer protections to students who attack the legitimacy of homosexuality as a normal human variation–in effect offering cover to people who wish to bully LGBTQ students.

In a major national survey issued in October 2011, the first of its kind, transgender people in the United States were shown to be the object of discrimination in every sector of life.  The Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Study, “Injustice at Every Turn,” noted that “It is a part of social and legal convention in the United States to discriminate against, ridicule, and abuse transgender and gender non-conforming people within foundational institutions such as the family, schools, the workplace and healthcare settings, every day.”  This amounts to a colossal moral failure in American life, and the Tennessee bill is of a piece with this systematic and structural bias-attack on transgender people.

The ACLU decries anti-transgender “bathroom bills,” seeing such laws as fundamentally violating non-discrimination laws.  Social advocacy groups within the state, such as the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC), are opposing the bill, which was introduced by State Senator Bo Watson (R) to make Tennessee, in the words of Think Progress, “a particularly unfriendly place for transgender people.” The text of the “Bathroom Bill” may be accessed here.

As transgender advocate Ryan Sallans, writes in his popular blogsite, “I’m thinking of all you folks down in Tennessee. When is this sh*t going to stop? I just wish politicians didn’t exist, the world would be a better place. Communities should just sit down and talk, get to know each other, respect their differences and understand we all are just trying to live and make it mean something in a challenging world.”  When will the sh*t stop, indeed! (Thanks for links to Dr. Jason Lamoreaux).

January 12, 2012 Posted by | Bullying in schools, gay teens, GLBTQ, harassment, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lawrence v. Texas, LGBTQ, Social Justice Advocacy, Tennessee, transgender persons, transphobia, U.S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Transphobic “Bathroom Bill” Introduced in TN Legislature

   

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