Let People Pee

Transgender. Transgender is defined as denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender. Recently, bills targeting transgender people have been making their way to state governments. Many people view these new bills being introduced as further isolating and stigmatizing the transgender population. Proponents of these bills believe they will protect everyone including young girls in restrooms. This article explains the background more in-depth.

The Facts. 

Transgender people are nothing new. There have been transgender people since before the common era and increasingly documented throughout the last few centuries.

Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut, in 1503 BCE, donned male clothing and a false beard to show her intention to rule as a pharaoh, a man, after her husband died.  The Roman Emperor Elagabalus known for wearing makeup, numerous bisexual escapades and offering a reward for a doctor who could give him female genitalia was executed in 220 CE. In 1775, Charlotte Clarke (the first modern era openly lesbian and transgender person), published an autobiography about her life. Karl Friedrich Otto Westphal published the first medical paper on transsexuality in 1869. Magnus Hirschfeld founded the first clinic in Berlin to study and serve transgender people in 1910. Dr. Alan Hart had the first documented transition in 1917.

John Money opened the first Gender Clinic at Johns Hopkins Medical Centre in 1966 which was considered the “mecca” for gender transition. STAR (Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries), the first transgender activist organization, was formed by Sylvia Rivera and Marsha Johnson in 1970. Sweden became the first country in the world to allow citizens to legally change their sex in 1972.

The first Transgender Day of Remembrance was on November 20, 1999 to honor and observe all those who have been killed as a result of transphobia. According to NoBullying.com, 50% of transgender youth attempt suicide at least once and 82% of transgender kids feel unsafe at school. Further more, 44% have reported abuse from school mates, 67% have been cyberbullied and 64% have had personal property stolen or destroyed.

visibility infographic update 2015

Public Movements. 

As trans people like Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner gain more prominence in the media, more and more cis people are speaking out in support including President Barrack Obama, David Bowie, Miley Cyrus, Ellen Page, Lady Gaga and Ellen Degeneres.

In June 2015, John Oliver hosted a segment where he took time to demonstrate it is no one’s business what genitalia people have and the difference between gender and sexual identity. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah devoted an entire show to transgender rights and matters, demonstrating the discrimination and profiling that transgender people face on a daily basis. President Obama appointed the first transgender person as the White House’s LGBT liaison on March 14, 2016.

The Bills. 

This movement started in Houston, TX where Proposition 1, looking to protect transgender rights, was defeated. Proposition 1 focused on protecting all LGBT people with transgender people’s bathroom rights as a very small aspect. According to Berman from the Atlantic, “For supporters {of Proposition 1}, the fall campaign featured a straightforward message about equality and inclusiveness. For opponents, it became all about bathrooms.” From there, states started introducing bills regarding transgender bathroom use.

North Carolina passed a city ordinance in Charolette expanding antidiscrimination laws to grant LGBT protection in places of “public accommodation” in February 2016. It stipulated, among other things, transgender people would be allowed to use the bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. Their General Assembly then proposed and passed HB 2, “the bathroom bill”, in March 2016. As explained by this article, HB 2 not only repealed this ordnance but impacted cities and local government’s abilities to extend more protections to protected classes.

Kansas introduced two bills, Senate Bill 163 and House Bill 2737 that implied transgender students could inflict harm, “Allowing students to use restrooms, locker rooms and showers that are reserved for students of a different sex will create potential embarrassment, shame, and psychological injury to students”. The bills not only would ban students from using the bathroom of their gender identities, but also award $2,5000 to anyone who sees a transgender person in the “wrong” bathroom.

Indiana’s SB 35 would issue a transgender person using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity a “single sex public facility trespass” Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine up to $5,000. Minnesota’s HF 3396 would block gender-inclusive policies at school districts and local municipalities. Tennessee introduced HB 2387 where GOP Rep. Susan Lynn, told the committee that her bill would “prevent bullying” and “protect students”. South Dakota vetoed HB 1008 on March 2nd and South Carolina introduced SC 1203 on April 6th.

Other states are taking action for the right using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. San Francisco’s mayor Edwin Lee banned city employee travel to N.C. after HB 2 passed stating, “We are standing united as San Franciscans to condemn North Carolina’s new discriminatory law that turns back the clock on protecting the rights of all Americans including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals”. Massachusetts proposed The Transgender Public Accommodation Bill (SB 735) in April to promote equal access to public places regardless of gender identity. Iowa senate passed SF 2285 to add transgender individuals to the list of protected people under the state’s hate crimes laws on March 8th.

Australia passed a law in 2011 stating intersex (the abnormal condition of being intermediate between male and female; hermaphroditism) individuals may choose to list their gender on their passports as “X” rather than male or female with a doctor’s note. In 2013, German lawmakers amended birth certificates to give parents the option to leave the gender blank for infants allowing people to decide their gender legally as an adult. In 2015, Ontario, Canada announced that inmates will be housed according to their own gender identity. Ireland approved a bill (similar to ones in ArgentinaMaltaColombia and Denmark) in 2015 allowing transgender people to legally change their gender without medical intervention.

Conclusion

Bills limiting transgender people’s access to public amenities based off of their gender identity further isolate and stigmatize transgender people, especially youth, instead of promote a positive, safe environment for all. People all over the world do not conform to what society deems as “normal” and we celebrate their uniqueness. Pursuing who you truly are hard for everyone, especially if it entails going against something you have been told and forced to accept your whole entire life. I cannot help but draw some similarities between this transgender discrimination and black discrimination throughout the 20th century. Tennessee Democratic representative Johnnie Turner spoke about growing up black regarding HB 2387 stating, “What did it do to me that every time I got on the bus I was reminded I was inferior to other children? These children face enough challenges. We do not have to separate them.” This is blatant discrimination, plain and simple.

Advertisements

Published by

sarahevelynnjohnson

Photography enthusiast, creative ambitions, always smile.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s