Two Republican lawmakers – a State Senator and a State Congressman – have proposed a law in Tennessee which mirrors the disastrous ‘bathroom bill’ from North Carolina, a direct response to the Trump Administration’s roll-back on national education guidelines pertaining to Trans rights.
Tennessee State Senator Mae Beavers and State Congressman Mark Pody proposed their legislation this week which would require students at public schools and institutions to use the bathroom which corresponds to their biological sex.
Like the Bathroom Bill of North Carolina, the new Tennessee legislation focuses on legislating against an issue that does not exist. In 2016, the majority of the pro-bill debate centered around a fictional strawman of a licentious predator who might dress as a woman in order to gain access to public restrooms to prey on children. Naturally, a thinking person would realize that even if this strawman were realistic, it is unrealistic to expect any to deter aggressive sexual predators with another law on the books.
Of course the real victim of this bill are transgender students who only wish to use the restroom which corresponds to their gender identity, as well as being able to perform basic human functions in relative peace and safety. While the monsters that lawmakers have dreamed up would not be deterred by a law like this, trans citizens will be made to feel afraid to enter any restroom, faced with the difficult choice of following the law and being put in danger or defying the law and hoping that they go unnoticed.
During public debate over the issue, some men said that they planned to patrol outside of women’s restrooms, some saying the would be armed, purportedly to protect women and female children from their imagined enemies. During this time and the months following it, no doubt Trans citizens, innocent people, were made to feel like criminals for needing to use the restroom. Many viewed it as an attack on their existence as a whole, recognizing that without access to public restrooms, they were not really given access to the public at all.
This is not a position that we should be putting children in, and Tennessee, like North Carolina is using this legislation as merely inventing a solution for a non-existent problem.
As North Carolina saw, Tennessee will surely see as well – push-back against these laws will be swift and strong. A previous bill of similar nature was proposed in 2016 in the state, but was quickly pulled by its sponsor after significant public outcry. The state’s Attorney General called that bill a “violation of federal rights,” an opinion that will no doubt be upheld on this new legislation as well.
When the White House took action against Trans protection in schools nationwide, it opened up states to these sorts of dangerous, regressive legislation.