Seriously? This Again?
Hey, Texas: Didn’t we just go through this?
North Carolina passed a hateful anti-transgender bill just last March. It made a lot of people very angry. The federal government sued North Carolina. The governor has since been voted out of office. A boycott of the state, led by artists, corporations, and sports leagues, remains in place and has cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Lawmakers (even many of those who originally supported it) tried, but ultimately failed, to repeal it. In other words, it was a disaster of epic proportions.
So, of course, Texas has stepped up to say, “Sounds great, we want to try that!”
An Attack on the LGBTQ Community
Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is backing a bill that—let’s be very clear about this—is nothing but an attack on the LGBTQ community. First, it would require people to use bathrooms (in all public schools and state and local government facilities) that align with their birth genders rather than the gender they identify with. Then, like the North Carolina bill, it would bar local governments from doing anything to address or remedy that injustice. In other words, this bill not only treats people unfairly, it also makes it illegal for Texas cities and towns to try to fix that.
Critics say that its effects could be even more hurtful and damaging: LGBTQ groups fear that the bill is worded such that it could even force teachers to out LGBTQ students to their parents.
The business community, no doubt having seen what happened in North Carolina, is already lining up against it. The state’s chamber of commerce said that if the bill were enacted, it could cost Texas up to $8.5 billion. The chamber’s president has called the bill “discriminatory” and “wholly unnecessary.”
Those words are a good start. We’d like to add “horrifically wrong.”
A Potty Fixation
A lot of politicians seem to spend a lot of their time thinking about who uses which bathrooms. It’s an odd obsession. What may be even odder is how these same people try to get us to believe that their weird potty fixation is all about protecting women and has nothing to do with injustice towards those in the LGBTQ community. Lt. Gov. Patrick has even gone so far as to dub his bill the “Women’s Privacy Act.” Seriously.
So, about that: there is not a shred of evidence to back up any claims that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice has ever led or will lead to assaults on women. It’s a myth. And it’s a dangerous one in this era of ‘fake news’. Because right now, in real life, members of the transgender community face daily harassment, all over the country. According to a recent survey, about 60% of transgender people avoid using public restrooms out of a fear of being harassed or even assaulted.
Rather than try to solve a real problem by ensuring the safety and comfort of people who really need help, these so-called “bathroom bills” address a fake problem while making life harder in the real world by perpetuating discrimination and prejudice.
We Can and Must Do Better
Given everything we’ve just discussed, it may be hard to believe that Lt. Governor Patrick quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., when he unveiled his transphobic bill. But he did, he really did. We aren’t quite sure about what link may exist between the legacy of one of the world’s foremost advocates for fairness and equality with what amounts to a petty effort to further discriminate against vulnerable members of our society. (Back in 1998, Dr. King’s now-deceased widow, Coretta Scott King, said that he supported LGBTQ equality.)
But we do know what we’re up against.
Proponents of unjust and unfair laws like the one proposed in Texas and the one already on the books in North Carolina will do and say just about anything to divide and distract us.
But we won’t let that happen. We believe that everybody has a right to be their true selves, that everybody has a right to love whomever they love. Let us all stand together and demand justice and equality for all our LGBTQ friends and neighbors. Learn more about how you can get involved from our friends at the Human Rights Campaign.