From Tennessee, where I lived for ten years, comes a particularly disturbing incarnation of the Transphobic Asshole who is Obsessed with Bathroom Use: State Rep Richard Floyd, who with Senator Bo Watson (who withdrew his support the day the bills were introduced in the House and Senate) introduced a bill to force everyone in Tennessee who wants to use a public restroom to use only the restroom matching the sex on their birth certificate. In a bit of added hilarity, Tennessee is one of the states in which you cannot change the sex on your birth certificate (Ohio, where I was born, is another), so trans folks are shit outta luck in that department. To any supporters of this bill that are still left after Floyd’s violent meltdown in defence of it, the Official Accidental Beard Bathroom Challenge is still open. Someone take me up on this!
This article at the Nashville Scene has a press release from the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition that tears apart this bullshit bill more eloquently than I could (highlights: it will be illegal for fathers to bring daughters into the public restroom with them, implications that this bill would mean anyone even vaguely gender-variant will have to carry a copy of their birth certificate at all times, etc.), but there are two things that struck me when I read the link above with quotes from Floyd about why he introduced this bill.
First off: I think a lot of these bigoted lawmakers who leap at the idea to introduce bathroom laws and the like have no idea what trans folks are like. They probably think they’ve never met one in person! My best guess is that Floyd has a mental image of someone a circus bearded lady lumbering into women’s restrooms and terrifying hordes of delicate, fainting Southern ladies. I would hazard a guess that many trans women using public restrooms, especially in unknown or potentially unsafe circumstances, are more afraid of the people in and around the bathroom than any of them are of one more woman coming in to do her business. When there are violent incidents around trans women in public bathrooms, they’re the victims, not the perpetrators.
Also, I know this is a very mixed blessing, but I also have the feeling that trans men don’t exist in Rep. Floyd’s world. Would he want ME in the same bathroom or dressing room as his wife and his daughters? If he thinks letting trans women use women’s facilities is a danger to cis women… what the hell would he think about letting trans men in there? Because if this bill were to pass, every time I visit my parents I’d have to use women’s restrooms. Maybe I should take a trip to Floyd’s office, shake his hand, and tell him I’m going to step out to the ladies’ room for a moment.
Actually, what would be fantastic would be to start a campaign where trans men all across Tennessee send Rep. Floyd headshots and promise to comply with the bill if it’s passed. “Dear sir, I’m not sure why you think your wife will feel safer if I’m standing at the sink next to her in the Noshville restroom, but if it’ll help protect your family, I’ll make that sacrifice.”