If it weren’t discouraging enough that the Tennessee legislature will consider a “license to bully” bill and reconsider the “don’t say gay” bill, the new session has opened with the introduction of a blatantly transphobic bathroom bill. Sponsored by Sen. Bo Watson (R), the bill (SB 2282) would institute a $50 fine for anybody who does not use the public restroom or dressing room that matches the sex identification on his or her birth certificate:
(b) Except as provided in § 68-15-303, where a restroom or dressing room in a public building is designated for use by members of one particular sex, only members of that particular sex shall be permitted to use that restroom or dressing room.
(c) A violation of subsection (b) is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a to a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00).
If passed, this bill would make Tennessee a particularly unfriendly place for people who are transgender. Tennessee law does not allow for the sex to be changed on birth certificates, which means this law would make it illegal for transgender people to utilize any public accommodations that match their gender. It would also impose on any businesses — such as Macy’s — that have transgender-inclusive policies.
Last year, the Family Action Council of Tennessee ran transphobic ads to support a bill that banned all municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The ads rehashed the “bathroom meme,” the fear that all transgender people are sexual predators trying to use the wrong restroom to find children to abuse. In reality, there has never been a case of someone using a transgender identity to molest children, nor is there anything to suggest that this bill would do anything to make children safer from actual predators. (HT: Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition.)
The original sponsor of the bill is actually Rep. Richard Floyd (R), who represents the same region of Tennessee as Sen. Watson.