On Tuesday night, the City Council of Oxford, Alabama unanimously approved a new ordinance that will punish individuals for using restrooms that do not match their biological sex as stated on their birth certificate. The policy is a direct response to Target indicating that trans people are welcome and will be respected in their stores.
According to the text of the ordinance, “citizens have a right to quite [sic] solicitude [sic] and to be secure from embarrassment and unwanted intrusion into their privacy while utilizing multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facilities by members of the opposite biological sex.”
It also warns that “single sex public facilities are places of increased venerability [sic] and present the potential for crimes against individuals utilizing those facilities which may include, but not limited to, voyeurism, exhibitionism, molestation, and assault and battery.”
Anywhere within the city’s police jurisdiction, it is now a criminal offense for transgender people to use restrooms that match their gender identity unless they have undergone surgery and successfully changed the gender marker on their birth certificate.
Each individual violation will result in a $500 fine or up to six months in jail. CNN reported this week that “most people urinate four to seven times during a day.”
The ordinance is actually more expansive than North Carolina’s HB2, which only applies to government buildings and public schools and universities.
In a prepared statement after the ordinance’s passage, Council President Steven Waits said that the council passed it “not out of concerns for the 0.3 percent of the population who identify as transgender,” but “to protect our women and children,” according to the Anniston Star. Apparently many residents had complained about Target’s policy statement about transgender inclusion.
“We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity,” the company said last week, reiterating a policy that was already in place. “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.”
If transgender customers or employees try to take advantage of this inclusive policy at the Target in Oxford, they could soon find themselves in jail.
On Wednesday, May 4, the city council held a special meeting and voted 3–2 to repeal the law. The ACLU had threatened to sue the city for enforcing discrimination against transgender people.