The transgender rule in Texas prohibits transgender students in public schools from accessing restrooms that aligns with their gender identity but rather use the restroom facilities for their biological gender as it appears in their birth certificates. The bill also requires the transgender students to use a single-occupancy facility. However, in case a school lacks the single-occupancy facility, then transgender students can use the multi-occupancy facilities as long as they are using them alone at that moment. This bill has attracted different reactions from different society spheres. Some Democrats argue that this bill is a call back to ethical segregation. Older people are familiar with this bill and recall how bathrooms divided them then. Older generations believe that this bill will bring division and exclusion. In America, separate but equal has never been equal at all. As a result, the bill will increase social inequalities and discrimination.
In the past, the public schools in Texas had taken numerous approaches to accommodate the transgender students. Most of these schools have always advocated for policies that are not discriminatory to the transgender students. For instance, transgender students have always had the freedom to use the bathrooms of their choice. Although some schools have separate facilities for transgender students, transgender advocates consider such arrangements as stigmatizing and discriminatory. This bill will traumatize transgender students who were used to specific gender bathrooms which are different from their biological gender (Rushin and Carroll 43). For example, It would be deeply unsettling to change the bathroom for a transgender student who is used to using girls bathrooms to use boys bathrooms while everybody else in the school has known her as being a girl just because the birth certificate indicates that the student is a boy. For this reason, this bill is likely to violate Title IX of the federal law that is against gender discrimination in schools that receive public funding.
According to Paddie, the legislator who came up with the amendment to this bill, the restrictions on transgender students using the bathrooms per their biological gender are not discriminatory. He argues that such restrictions are meant to treat all students equally as well as protecting them. He continues to argue that the amendment ensures that all students are accommodated reasonably. Texas was not the only or the first state to restrict restroom usage for transgender students. In fact, it was among other 16 states that had enacted a bathroom bill this year. North Carolina was the first to enact the bill in 2016. Paddy continues to justify his reasons for authoring the bill as motivated by his concerns about school safety. However, opponents of this bill have referred to this bill as dangerous and discriminatory for the transgender students (Rushin and Carroll 56). Rep. Senfronia Thompson compares the restrictions in the bill to Jim Crow-era segregation. Senfronia recalls the period when Texas and the United States at large had separate but equal when bathrooms were white colored. The African American Senfronia believes that bathrooms are dividing the society once again as it did then with the American recognition that separate but equal can never be equal at all.
Transgender advocates, religious leaders, Democrats, the business sector and some law enforcement, have been on the opposing side for this bill. However, big business corporations have stood out as the biggest and dominant force against this bill. Corporate America has stepped forward criticizing the bill and speaking loudly about the chilling effect of this bill on the Texas business opportunity (Westbrook and Schilt 56). Active corporations in Texas that have participated in opposing the bill include IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Amazon, Facebook, Intel, Ben & Jerrys, South West Airlines, American Airlines, Capital One and United Airlines. The Texas Association of Business, about 650 businesses, conventions, chambers of commerce and visitors bureau have also opposed the bill. The Texas Association of business is one of the leading forces against the bill. This association is recognized as the most vibrant business lobby in Texas representing $8 billion and above two million workers in companies. Chris Wallace who is the president of the group formed a coalition that was aimed at keeping Texas open for business against the bill when the bathroom legislation debate and battle started. The reason for the association participating in the debate was to avoid tarnishing the Texas brand. The associations approach included lobbying blitzes and rallies throughout the capitol grounds, a seven-figure radio ad buy and strategically targeted letters signed by chief executives of prominent companies.
Prominent business women and executives accompanied by their children gathered in meetings on the south steps of Texas capitol to demonstrate about the bill. 15 of the women who spoke at the meeting attacked the lawmakers for passing a bill that will lead to adverse effects on the economy, encourage hate crimes as well as discrimination (Stones 276).
The transgender restroom legislation left deep divisions amongst Texas Christians. More than 770 Texas pastors endorsed an open letter that was distributed across Texas. The letter raised concerns that the traditional family values and equality were threatened by politicians and companies that supported the transgender bill which deprived transgender students their freedom of choice as well as victimizing them (Rushin and Carroll 56). Surprisingly, the debated is fueled by Christian movements which are supporting the bill while others are against it. It would be expected that Christians would take a common ground in fighting the bill, but the split between conservative and progressive religions and the connection between politics and religion is increasing widening the split between Christians in Texas. The division was evident when the liberal church leaders demonstrated against the legislation during an interreligious event outside the capitol building, and their rivals-religious conservatives rallied on the same venue after two days to demand the enactment of the bill. The church rivalry and division arose due to conflicting view on homosexuality when it comes to marriage equality (Rushin and Carroll 56). Also, transgender people who have been as a minority for a long period have attacked back demanding for their recognition and rights. For a long time, religion has been used to cover up for bigotry and discriminatory acts. Christianity or rather religion has been part of the politics of the united states at all levels of the government. As a result, the church has ceased being a representation of the true gospel of Jesus but rather a representation of the culture. The close relationship between politics and the church has outweighed the importance of religion in civic.
The transgender bill is based on a huge myth. Supporters of the legislation claim the bill addresses the moral issues such as public decency, safety and among other issues. The bill issues are not overtly religious. However, it is unfortunate that the strong and significant opposition to such ordinance comes from the church. Conservatives who favor this bill argue that transgender men sneak into women bathrooms and assault them. However, restricting transgender people from using the bathrooms of their choice will not end sexual assaults. Similarly, sexual assaults and harassments remain illegal regardless of whether transgender people will use the restrooms that align with their biological gender or not (Stones 277). Texas bathroom bill supporters attach great importance to the law for the protection of students and women. There is evidence showing that transgender students are traumatized and endangered by harassment and victimization.
The transgender bill debate presents the society with an opportunity to provide long last solution to issues of gender discrimination and respect for the rights of minority groups. In this case, the government of Texas has an opportunity to build better restrooms that will move away from the current perspective that restrooms privacy and security are only about gender privacy and that public bathrooms should be separated on the gender basis (Flaskerud and Janna Lesser 3). Instead of Texas passing the transgender bill, legislators should concentrate on advocating for unisex bathrooms for all people similar to those found on airplanes. Such bathrooms would provide solutions to the issues of the transgender bathroom usage and the overall privacy concerns.
Americans remain divided on identity and transgender rights. However, as more Americans continue learning about transgender and socializing with transgender individuals, there is a possibility that they will embrace them as equals in the society and be comfortable with them using same restrooms. There is a likelihood of Americans shifting their behavior and reaction towards transgender people just the same as they have embraced the same-sex marriage.
Flaskerud, Jacquelyn H., and Janna Lesser. "The Current Socio-Political Climate and Psychological Distress Among Transgender People." Issues in Mental Health Nursing (2017): 1-4.
Rushin, Stephen, and Jenny Carroll. "Bathroom Laws as Status Crimes." Fordham L. Rev. 86 (2017): 1.
Stones, Rebecca J. "Which Gender is More Concerned About Transgender Women in Female Bathrooms?." Gender Issues 34.3 (2017): 275-291.
Westbrook, Laurel, and Kristen Schilt. "Doing gender, determining gender: Transgender people, gender panics, and the maintenance of the sex/gender/sexuality system." Gender & Society 28.1 (2014): 32-57.
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