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Missouri Lawmaker Really Doesn’t Want Transgender People To Have A Safe Place To Pee

A scene from Ally McBeal featuring the unisex restroom. CREDIT: NETFLIX/FOX
A scene from Ally McBeal featuring the unisex restroom. CREDIT: NETFLIX/FOX

Following bills introduced in Kentucky, Florida, and Texas that would criminalize transgender people’s use of restrooms, a Missouri lawmaker is attempting a different tactic to make bathrooms less safe for transgender people. A pair of new bills from State Rep. Jeff Pogue (R) would restrict any bathroom or locker room that isn’t single-use-only from being made gender-neutral.

According to HB 1338, “All public restrooms, other than single occupancy public restrooms, shall be designated as gender-divided restrooms. Any single occupancy public restroom may be designated as a unisex restroom.” This would apply to any business, building, or facility with a public restroom. HB 1339 would then enforce that policy by blocking any state funding for any entity that creates gender-neutral restrooms.

It’s unclear how common gender-neutral restrooms might even be in Missouri. Aside from the infamous “unisex” restroom featured prominently on the hit TV show Ally McBeal, gender-blind facilities have mostly been implemented at universities. The University of Missouri and Missouri State University, as local examples, both offer some gender-neutral bathroom options, but most are single-use facilities that would not be impacted by Pogue’s bills.

Social conservatives’ efforts to restrict how transgender people can access the restroom has prompted a new social media photo campaign called #WeJustNeedToPee. Transgender people from across the country are posting selfies of themselves in the wrong bathroom, the bathroom they’d be forced to use if these restrictive policies were implemented. Michael Hughes, a transgender man from Minnesota who launched the campaign, discussed the various hashtag campaign this week with MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts.

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Pogue did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress request for comment, but his anti-LGBT record precedes these bills. He has also introduced a bill this session (HB 1337) that would allow government officials to refuse to solemnize same-sex couples’ marriages if doing so violated their religious beliefs. Last year, he joined several other Republican lawmakers in filing articles of impeachment against Gov. Jay Nixon (D) for allowing married same-sex couples to jointly file their state taxes. When a state judge ruled in October that Missouri must recognize same-sex couples from other states, Pogue called on all officials who recognized same-sex marriages to be removed from office in order to “stop this Midstate crisis.”