March 15, 2017
I’ve heard many dismiss critics who say Senate Bill 6 is discriminatory. They say, instead, that it’s about privacy and safety for women and children.
Despite that claim, the people who will be most affected by SB 6 are transgender Texans who are just trying to live their lives and be true to themselves. And this bill does discriminate against them. It harms one group of people under the false pretense of protecting the majority from some amorphous threat.
A transgender woman lives as a woman even though she was thought to be a male at birth. She is a woman. A transgender man lives as a man even though he was thought to be a female at birth. He is a man.
Being unable to understand, respect or accept this is the key reason it’s so hard for some to understand how discriminatory this bill is. That lack of empathy is the reason that people aren’t seeing its flaws.
And I actually hope that it’s a failure to understand, respect and empathize. Because the only other explanation is pure politics of creating some enemy that you can vanquish.
Yesterday we heard this was about protecting women’s privacy, but that argument assumes there’s a fight between women’s rights and transgender people’s rights. That’s not true. We can and should protect everyone’s privacy, including the privacy of transgender Texans. It’s a false dichotomy to pit women’s rights against the rights of transgender people.
We should be working for equal treatment under the law for all, not singling out one group for disparate treatment. That’s not good for women or any Texans.
We also heard this was about safety, but don’t you know that if safety was as important as we hear and the true driver of this, we wouldn’t be excluding to private businesses’ bathrooms. Why should we be willing to let woman face such a supposed danger in those facilities? We also know it isn’t true since someone who is willing to break the law and commit rape or assault will not be deterred by a bathroom policy.
We heard this wasn’t about targeting transgender people, yet more than once we’ve been told that the very genesis of this was a Justice Department action giving guidance related to addressing the needs of transgender children. And, of course, the real truth is that transgender Texans are the only ones who will have to change their behavior to comply with the bill.
Just as with SB 4, the so-called sanctuary cities bill, we’re allowing fear to guide public policy and justifying discrimination—marginalizing a vulnerable group–in the name of public safety. This is a deeply troubling pattern.
Transgender Texans are entitled to the same freedoms as everyone else. SB 6 will not allow them to enjoy those freedoms.