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Arizona bill would jail transgender people for using the ‘wrong’ bathroom

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, March 20, 2013 11:49 EDT
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Republican legislators in Arizona are attempting to pass legislation that forces transgender people to only use public restrooms, dressing rooms and showers associated with the gender listed on their birth certificate. According to the Associated Press, conservative lawmakers are proposing the legislation in response to a human rights bill passed by the city of Phoenix which prohibits gender identity discrimination in public accommodations.

Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh of Phoenix is leading the charge to make it a criminal offense for transgender people to use public restrooms not associated with their birth gender.

According to U.K. paper The Independent, violation of the new law would be a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by fines as high as $4,000 and up to six months in prison.

Gay state Rep. Tom Simplot told the Independent, “This kind of extremist legislation is exactly what brings criticism to Arizona and compromises our work to make Phoenix an accepting and competitive city.”

Activists say that opponents of the human rights bill’s choice to characterize their legislation as “the bathroom bill” is inflammatory, as is their decision to stoke fears of sexual predation.

Simplot said the bill would criminalise the “very nature” of being transgender, adding “they’re creating a problem that doesn’t exist.”

UPDATE: Raw Story spoke with Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Keisling said the new legislation “clearly has to do with the anti-discrimination law” enacted in Phoenix, “which is about people being able to work, people being able to be fully part of society.”

“These (anti-discrimination) laws are in effect in more than 160 cities and 16 states,” said Keisling, and that the problem of sexual predation on minors that the discriminatory policy alleges to address, “isn’t happening anywhere. It just doesn’t occur. It’s one of the terrible things that opponents of equality always raise in hopes of scaring people.”

[image via Shutterstock]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
 
 
 
 
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