If Arizona State Representative John Kavanagh has his way, those who operate restaurants, clothing stores, swimming pools and other ventures open to the public will be able to deny access to facilities such as bathrooms, dressing rooms, and showers on the basis of a person’s gender identity and expression.
When Kavanagh first introduced SB1045 into the state legislature, this bill would have made it a Class 1 misdemeanor for a trans person to enter a public restroom that does not match the gender on their birth certificate. Following public outcry over this legislation dubbed “papers to pee” bill, Kavanagh introduced a revised bill that would legally protect those who wish to prevent others from using these aforementioned facilities.
As reported by the Transgender Law Center, this revised “no loo for you” bill will “put transgender and any gender non-conforming people, like moms in sweatpants and a baseball cap or kids in soccer uniforms, at increased risk of harassment and degradation when they try to use a restroom or fitting room by explicitly removing all legal protections for them state-wide. It would permit business owners to discriminate simply because they don’t think you conform to their idea of how a man or woman should look or act. The law specifically references gender identity and gender expression as defining classes not deserving of any protection from discrimination under the law throughout the state with regard to places described as “private,” even when those spaces are entered into completely alone.”
Since this bill was introduced, organizations that serve the trans community have observed an increase of violence and discrimination against trans people. However, the bill’s impact will extend well beyond the LGBT community. According to Casey Chimneystar Condit, Programs Manager for Wingspan, Southern Arizona’s LGBT Community, this bill as written will allow for businesses to refuse to service to anyone whose gender presentation is shifting, a demographic that includes cancer patients, endurance athletes, aging individuals, and anyone undergoing hormone therapy for a medical condition. She adds that some organizations have begun to question if they should hold their conferences in this state out of concerns that their attendees could be impacted by this pending legislation. Antonia “Toni” D’orsay, Executive Director, This Is HOW, a Phoenix based non profit organization dedicated to the betterment of the lives of trans people, sums up the impact of the bill. “SB1045 allows another individual to decide for someone else which restroom they get to use.”
Currently, this bill is awaiting introduction into the rules committee of the Arizona State House. If this bill becomes law, it will override those portions of the gender non discrimination measure passed by the Phoenix City Council that pertain to public access to the aforementioned spaces.
Log on here for additional information on this bill. Also, another bill (SB1178) in the works will continue this pattern of discrimination against others by permitting those serving the public to enforce their religious beliefs in the public square.
Lest anyone feels this bill represents an isolated effort, D’orsay predicts an increase of anti-trans legislation over next 3 to 5 years as trans people become more visible in society. In an effort to lift up the lives of trans people, This is H.O.W and We Happy Trans, a website that celebrates the positive experiences of transgender people, recently announced the Trans 100 list, an inaugural overview of the breadth and diversity of work being done in, by, and for the transgender community across the United States. To view the full list, visit WeHappyTrans.com.