WASHINGTON — A policy brief released this week by the Fenway Institute and the Center for American Progress examines controversial state and local legislation that would prevent transgender people from using gendered public facilities, such as restrooms or locker rooms, that align with their gender identity.
The brief debunks myths about safety concerns regarding the use of these spaces by people who are transgender and describes negative outcomes that these bills could cause. It also calls on states to pass laws that protect the rights of all Americans to access public accommodations regardless of gender identity.
”A Texas bill would make it a felony for transgender people to use public restrooms consistent with their gender identity and would place responsibility for enforcement with those who operate the public restroom,” said Tim Wang, LGBT Health Policy Analyst at the Fenway Institute and lead author of the brief. “Preventing people who are transgender from accessing public restrooms consistent with their gender identity could promote abuse and discrimination.”
In 2015, the state legislatures of Texas, Kentucky, Florida, Minnesota and Missouri all considered bills restricting access of transgender people to public bathrooms and locker rooms. More recently, Houston repealed an equal rights ordinance that banned discrimination on the basis of gender identity, among other protected categories. This new wave of anti-transgender legislation follows historical precedents of using legislation to pre-empt or invalidate laws or ordinances that provide equal rights and protection from discrimination to LGB people.
Proponents of the anti-transgender bathroom bills argue that they are common-sense policy measures to prevent transgender people from sexually harassing other people in public bathrooms. However, there are no data showing that allowing people who are transgender to use public restrooms that align with their gender identity will lead to an increase in sexual harassment or abuse of the other people using the facilities, the Fenway press release said.