Why We Must Stop The Texas Bathroom Ban
Talking to people in my home state of Texas about policies related to gender identity often feels like screaming at a solid wall of concrete—especially when it comes to policies that curb the rights of transgender individuals. Yet this issue is a dire one: Members of the Texas legislature are currently trying to pass a bathroom bill (House Bill 2899) that would prohibit transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. This bill was already debated throughout the regular legislative session, but on June 6, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called a special session to revisit it in July.
This bill is nonsensical for many reasons. First, it protects people’s right to discriminate against transgender people based on the assumption that they will inevitably prey on people in the restroom of their choice. There is, of course, no statistical backing for this claim, which is the very basis of the bill. In fact, a study from the Williams Institute conducted in the Washington, DC area found that, if anyone needs protection in bathrooms, it’s trans individuals themselves: 70 percent of trans people reported experiencing harassment while using the restroom, according to that study. Yet Gov. Abbott defended this reasoning for the bill, telling a reporter that “At a minimum, we need a law that protects the privacy of our children in our public schools.” Clearly, if Gov. Abbott wanted to “protect” children in public schools, he would work to protect children who are the most likely to face discrimination in bathrooms: trans children.
Second, Texas supposedly prides itself on being a conducive place for growing businesses—yet this bill puts it in a position to face economic repercussions like North Carolina did when its legislature passed a similar bathroom bill. In fact, North Carolina’s bathroom bill will cost the state an estimated $3.76 billion in the immediate future. Even conservatives who will vote on this bill from a purely economic perspective, therefore, should recognize that this bill does only harm and no good.
There is a picture floating around on social media that compares the discrimination against trans people to the discrimination against African Americans. The picture reads: “It was never about the bathrooms. Just like it was about the water fountains.” This Texas bathroom bill shows a trend right now of encroaching on groups’ rights; just like Muslims’ rights and women’s rights have also been affected by legislation about the travel ban and abortion. President Trump, while claiming to bring Americans together, has pitted his people against each other and handed them the courage to openly discriminate against historically marginalized groups. Trans individuals in our society will always be viewed as an “other” until Texas, along with the rest of America, starts respecting their rights.
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