Transphobic Town: Use Birth Gender Bathrooms Or Do Six Months In Jail

Transphobic Town: Use Birth Gender Bathrooms Or Do Six Months In Jail

Oxford, Alabama’s city council couldn’t do with simply joining the Target boycott in response to the retail giant issuing a “restatement of policy” regarding transgender customers and their use of bathroom facilities; the small town of little more than 21,000 people decided to actually criminalize use of a public restroom that does not correspond to the sex listed on one’s birth certificate. Folks choosing to use the restroom that corresponds, instead, to the gender with which they identify, will now be slapped with “six months in jail” or a “$500 fine.” At that rate, they’d be better off pissing outside, but that’s absurd, of course.

The irony is, the people so “confused” and devious in all these power plays over public bathrooms are not our transgender brothers and sisters, as the stiffs seem believe, but the very folks who are vehemently pushing for these new, needless laws. They passed this rubbish this week not realizing whatsoever that they’ve been using public restrooms with transgender people all this time without incident. They fail to see that the people they fear are themselves masquerading as transgender in order to presumably catch a glimpse or cop a feel. Why the transgender community who has been peacefully using the restroom all this time should suddenly become the feared villain is beyond reason.

The council’s new ordinance states, in part, that constituents in public bathrooms “do not reasonably expect to be exposed to individuals of the opposite sex while utilizing those facilities.”

How many people do you know “exposing” themselves to everyone who walks into a public restroom, anyway?

The ordinance goes on to say:

“The Council further asserts that single sex public facilities are places of increased vulnerability and present the potential for crimes against individuals utilizing those facilities which may include, but not limited to, voyeurism, exhibitionism, molestation and assault and battery.”

In what ways are public facilities “places of increased vulnerability”? How about an example? This law seems to justify itself by declaring a “solution in search of a problem,” as Chris Wallace said recently, by presuming the very problem it’s made up to bring it about.

Children under the age of 12, however, are still permitted to use a restroom other than the one corresponding to the sex stated on their birth certificate, so long as they are with a parent.

Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge informed local CNN affiliate WBRC that he would enforce the law like any other. As CNN reported:

“A person would have to call police to complain, and when police arrive the officer would have to witness the crime.”

In addition, Partridge stated, the person(s) who contacted authorities over the matter would also have to “sign a warrant.”

Though Oxford’s ordinance follows quickly on the heels of the national debate floating across the country regarding transgender rights as they correspond to public bathrooms, in large part due to North Carolina’s recent “bathroom law” that has caused numerous boycotts of the state to arise, the term “transgender” curiously never actually appears in the ordinance.

Naturally, the Human Rights Campaign spoke up in the name of equal rights and plain decency:

“This anti-transgender law is unprecedented in its establishment of criminal penalties for violations of the law, and raises a myriad of privacy and legal concerns, including questions about how the law will be enforced.”

No doubt. Will there eventually be armed guards outside public restrooms doing spot checks for genitalia, demanding your birth certificate? How does a transgender male get treated standing in line for the women’s restroom, and vice versa, when it is illegal for him to stand in the men’s line or use the men’s facility? How does a cisgender male or female, who happens to appear masculine or feminine to another person in public, get treated when the police show up? See, cisgender folks don’t seem to realize that they are in for harassment at public bathrooms, too, by both their fellow public and law enforcement. All it takes is suspicion, or doubt, and suddenly you’re being criminalized for standing in the “wrong” line or using the “wrong” facility.

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And why? Out of fear that a cisgender person may impersonate a transgender person for nefarious reasons, or that old stereotype that anyone associated with the LGBTQ crowd automatically equates them to the level of a pervert, pedophile and/or rapist? By that logic we should likely outlaw many Christians and Catholics, among other groups, from using public restrooms, as well. The entire issue is nuts. Let people piss in peace and go about their business. If anything inappropriate occurs, as can happen in any public restroom regardless of who is legally allowed to use it, the authorities can then get involved–simple, really, when you remove fear, ignorance, bigotry, and actually separate church from state.

Alabama manager of Human Rights Campaign Eva Walton Kendrick said:

“Transgender people are our neighbors, our coworkers and our fellow churchgoers, and every Alabamian has the right to live their lives without fear of discrimination and prejudice.”

Damn right they do.

H/T: CNN / Featured image by Chris Jackson via Getty News Images

Dylan Hock is a writer, educator, and activist. He serves as a volunteer board member of The James Jackson Museum of African American History.

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