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Tennessee legislature introduces transphobic ‘bathroom bill’

By Zack Ford
Think Progress
Friday, January 13, 2012

If it weren’t discouraging enough that the Tennessee legislature will consider a “license to bully” bill and reconsider the “don’t say gay” bill, the new session has opened with the introduction of a blatantly transphobic bathroom bill.

The bill (SB 2282) would institute a $50 fine for anybody who does not use the public restroom or dressing room that matches the sex identification on his or her birth certificate:

(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).

If passed, this bill would make Tennessee a particularly unfriendly place for people who are transgender. Tennessee law does not allow for the sex to be changed on birth certificates, which means this law would make it illegal for transgender people to utilize any public accommodations that match their gender. It would also impose on any businesses — such as Macy’s — that have transgender-inclusive policies.

Last year, the Family Action Council of Tennessee ran transphobic ads to support a bill that banned all municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The ads rehashed the “bathroom meme,” the fear that all transgender people are sexual predators trying to use the wrong restroom to find children to abuse.

In reality, there has never been a case of someone using a transgender identity to molest children, nor is there anything to suggest that this bill would do anything to make children safer from actual predators. (HT: Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition.)

Much has unfolded in the day since the bill was first introduced.

First, state Sen. Bo Watson (R) has withdrawn his version of the bill. He had introduced it as a courtesy to state Rep. Richard Floyd (R), who represents the same region of Tennessee. In a statement to ThinkProgress, Watson’s communications director explained that “Sen. Watson concluded that there are far more pressing issues facing the state of Tennessee at this time.”

Floyd now stands alone as the sponsor of the bill (HB 2279), which he defended yesterday using incredibly transphobic rhetoric. In no uncertain terms, he explained that he would resort to violence if he ever encountered someone transgender in a dressing room:

FLOYD: I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry.

Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk. We cannot continue to let these people dominate how society acts and reacts. Now if somebody thinks he’s a woman and he’s a man and wants to try on women’s clothes, let him take them into the men’s bathroom or dressing room.

In an extended interview with WTVF News Chanel 5, Floyd doubled down on his comments, claiming that his bill doesn’t “penalize anybody,” it “protects everybody,” and he could “care less” what transgender advocacy groups think. Watch it:

This bill is nothing short of an outright attack on transgender people, and Floyd’s comments make it clear he lacks any understanding or compassion for the trans community. Enforcement of this bill could lead to ID checks in public restrooms and would be devastatingly stigmatizing, especially considering Tennessee offers no option for individuals to change their birth certificate gender markers.

Even individuals passing through one of Tennessee’s airports or bus stops could be targeted for these fines, just for being transgender.

© Think Progress.
This article was published by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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28 more reader comments:

  1. This too will get shot down…………………..

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 3:38pm
  2. Ignorance spreading yet again… It’s a shame!

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 3:41pm
  3. I think the bill was recently withdrawn….

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 3:42pm
  4. aye the level of intelligence conspicuous in its abscence

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 3:44pm
  5. Im ashamed to live in TN sometimes…sigh

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 3:54pm
  6. This is one of thhe most disgusting things i have heard. “soon we are going to allow people to marry their dogs, cats, and horses” they are animals, we are human beings simply fighting for our right to equality. Some will never understand..close minded people, acting as though we will kidnap and murder a person. Truly is a shame!

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 3:54pm
  7. All I can say is WOW!

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 3:57pm
  8. What’s up with TN these days? :

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:06pm
  9. Old white men still serving in high ranking places..you know, the whole “good ol boy” crew that hasnt died yet

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:07pm
  10. Wtf

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:09pm
  11. Seems living in TN makes me ashamed but the country side is beautiful.

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:12pm
  12. This doesn’t do anything but reinforce the idea that Tenn has way too many hicks.

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:13pm
  13. Start calling ‘em Volunqueers! LOL!!!!! Serves ‘em right, bigots!

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:15pm
  14. they are making us southerners look bad! EPIC FAIL!

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:22pm
  15. shit state

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:48pm
  16. the south never changes…

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:49pm
  17. Oh come ON! What decade are we in again???

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 5:16pm
  18. The Dumb Laws that our country tries to pass to justify their predijuices.

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 5:31pm
  19. this is just pure discrimination!

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 5:37pm
  20. This man is promoting HATE and doesn’t know what he is talking about. I would love to talk with this guy.

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 6:34pm
  21. Doesn’t really surprise me. Well I know at least I still have my pride<3 gay pride forever:)

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 7:50pm
  22. Whatever happened to equal right? This guy is definitely ‘last century’.

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 8:03pm
  23. Sorry, but calling yourself a woman doesn’t make you one. End of story.

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 8:27pm
  24. Wow ok so I totally hate Tennessee now. Sick queerphobic ********

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 9:50pm
  25. Looks like I am never going to Tennessee.

    Posted on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 9:56pm
  26. I’ll never understand why Rethuglican, conservative, right-wing, religious fanatics think they can force other normal people to accept their deviant views and lifestyle. They love to tell other people how to live their lives, while their own lives are in shambles. The Christian (esp. Catholic, Mormon, Evangelical, and Southern Baptist) Taliban in this country are going to face a violent wake up call soon if they keep trying to spread their hatred, intolerant views, and intolerant actions on normal Americans. Anyone coming into contact with any members of the Tennessee House or Senate who vote for bigotry, intolerance, and hate should make them pay a price.

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 3:55pm
  27. transgender people don’t pray on children. Priest do!

    Posted on Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 7:16pm
  28. Wait a minute–is anyone taking into account the rights of women and girls here? It isn’t only about transgender people–it’s also about men who prey on children and on women. Please. There is a difference. Educate yourselves.

    Posted on Monday, January 23, 2012 at 2:43pm