Written by Zack Ford
A bill is quickly advancing through the Delaware legislature that would add gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination and hate crime laws. It passed out of a Senate committee Wednesday and is expected to come before the full Senate today. Focus on the Family, however, opposes what it calls the “bathroom bill,“ and invited the Delaware Family Policy Council to expound on its supposed consequences:
- Organizations must allow people to access gender-segregated programs, activities, and facilities in accordance with the sex they choose. For example, an all-girls school would have to allow a biological male to participate in classes or athletic programs.
- Organizations such as schools with dorms, homeless shelters or rehabilitation centers would have to allow individuals to be housed with the gender that they choose. A women’s homeless shelter, for example, must allow a biological male who professes a female identity to sleep in the women’s facilities.
- Organizations would have to allow individuals to access bathrooms, showers, and locker-room facilities in accordance with the sex they choose. Creating a separate “family” or “unisex” bathroom is proving to still not be enough to prevent a lawsuit.
Terms like “biological male” are used to paint a false picture of who trans women are and what their experience in society is. Trans women are women — they not only identify as women, but they are perceived as women as well. Likewise, plenty of trans men are only known to the people who know them as men. Last year, Kylar Broadus testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee about how people always perceived him to be a man, but he was ostracized when he openly identifies as a trans man.
Thus, use of the facilities with which they identify is an important safety concern for transgender people. An individual who identifies (and looks) like a woman should not have to use a men’s bathroom or lockerroom, and vice versa. Likewise, trans people are more likely to experience extreme poverty, so a trans woman seeking shelter would have the same impetus to seek the safety of a women’s shelter as any other woman.
Arizona lawmaker Rep. John Kavanagh (R) has tried to enshrine discrimination against transgender people into law, because he believes that trans people’s bodies can be psychologically traumatizing to others. Fortunately, his bill has been shelved — for now. But his sentiment that trans people should only be defined by their bodies and that those bodies are dangerous can be heard in the opposition to Delaware’s bill. These narrow arguments focus only on trans people’s genitalia, ignoring the lives they lead and their whole identities as people beyond being trans. And none of these arguments actually answer the question of where trans people should go to the bathroom or which locker room they should use, suggesting that they’re not welcome anywhere at all. Delaware lawmakers have the opportunity to send a different message to the trans community.
The Delaware Family Policy Council is recycling a “bathroom bill” scare ad that has been used in other states that simply shows a man going into a women’s room, which has nothing to do with transgender people or the implications of the protections.
This was originally published at ThinkProgress.
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