Florida could be next in line to criminalize transgender adults who intentionally enter a restroom or changing facility opposite their sex at birth, according to two bills hastily moving through the Legislature. Similar bathroom bans are advancing through legislatures around the country — some are already expected to take effect this summer.
The American Civil Liberties Union reports a record number of 451 anti-LGBTQ+ bills moving through state legislatures. Of these, eight seek to impede the LGBTQ+ community’s right to simply use the restroom, according to their website.
Abdelilah Skhir, the ACLU of Florida voting rights policy strategist, said during a Senate hearing last week that the “mean-spirited” and “degrading” bill invites harassment, abuse, and violence “all for the crime of being transgender and using the bathroom.”
He added: “This bill is not about safety in bathrooms. This is about being yet another attack on the LGBTQ community as part of a coordinated, nationwide effort and an obsession of this legislature to push LGBTQ people out of the public sphere — out of sight and out of mind.”
Nationwide bathroom bans
Florida is among seven states set on passing bans on transgender students’ and adults’ use of public accommodations, such as bathrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms this year.
Under Florida’s SB 1674, adults who enter a restroom or changing facility “designated for the opposite sex” and refuse to immediately leave when “asked to do so by another person in the restroom or changing facility,” will be penalized with a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail or a maximum $500 fine.
For someone under 18, refusal to leave an educational institution’s restroom or changing facility will be classified as a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
On Thursday, the Arkansas Senate delivered a bill to the governor’s desk that would ban transgender students from using school restrooms and locker rooms that pair with their gender identity. The measure allows for violators to be charged with misdemeanor sexual indecency with a child.
On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature passed a bill that would implement some of the country’s broadest bathroom regulations. A 28-12 Senate vote was enough to get the measure to the Democrat governor’s desk and satisfies the two-thirds majority required to override an expected veto.
A House proposal requiring school districts to provide “separate accommodations” for students according to biological sex on overnight school-sponsored trips also advances in the Lone Star state.
North Dakota’s version of a bathroom ban passed in the Senate on Monday. This bill specifically restricts the use of restrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms in state higher education dorms, youth and adult correctional facilities, and prisons.
In March, Idaho passed a bill eliminating a requirement that public works contractors provide access to a multiple-occupancy restroom, shower facility, or changing room on any basis other than biological sex. This will become law on July 1.
Indiana introduced its bill, making “knowingly or intentionally” entering a restroom designated for the opposite sex a misdemeanor. But it hasn’t moved since its first read and Courts and Criminal Code Committee referral in January.
Iowa filed its version of the ban, but the bill was defeated due to a missed committee deadline, according to the ACLU.
Asked and (not) answered
Sen. Erin Grall, a Republican representing Southeastern Florida counties, acknowledged that “a lot” of questions were asked during a Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee hearing on the House companion bill.
“Because implementation of something like this, I believe, is important that it’s clear, we will be taking feedback and input between now and the next committee stop,” she said only one minute into questioning.
Though unsure of what ideas will emerge, she anticipates amendments to the Senate bill before its next meeting.
The House version, HB 1521, is quickly moving through the Legislature. But, unlike the Senate version, it includes an exception for individuals born with “certain genetically or biochemically verifiable disorders of sex development.”
Criticized as government overreach, the bill’s language raised implementation concerns from LGBTQ+ advocates, Democrats, and even the Rules Committee chair, a Republican.
For instance, covered entities that fail to comply with the new law may be penalized with a licensure violation. This includes public shelters, health care facilities, educational institutions, and public accommodations.
Sen. Darryl Rouson, a Democrat representing parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, asked whether the state Capitol qualified as a “covered entity.” An unsure Grall failed to fire back a “yes” or “no,” but said she and the staff would meet to clear up the bill’s ambiguity — a discussion Rouson said he’d like to be a part of.
‘And please, get to the point so we can move on’
Limiting public testimony has been a recurring theme during this year’s legislative session. Three hours into the committee meeting, Chair Debbie Mayfield said each person would be granted one minute to “state their case” due to the “limited time.”
“And please get to the point so we can move on,” she added.
Jon Harris Maurer, public policy director with Equality Florida, said the bill has “no standard for reasonableness” and is a potential “tool of harassment” against the transgender community. In a series of hypothetical questions, he outlined what may happen if he demanded any male lawmaker leave the restroom.
“Maybe they’d say they’re in the right restroom — then what,” he asked. “Do I get to make them show me some form of identification? Why would the state be empowering me to do that? What if they don’t have documentation, or if I decide it’s not sufficient? Am I now performing a citizen’s arrest, detaining the lawmaker in the bathroom until law enforcement can verify their identification?”
Maurer pleaded with the lawmakers not to empower Floridians to harass transgender people.
“It makes our workplaces less safe while also jeopardizing transgender workers’ and patrons’ right to privacy,” he added. “If enacted, this bill would mean that transgender people will have to make the impossible decision of breaking the law or revealing their private medical information.”
The ACLU of Florida opposes the prohibition of gender-inclusive restrooms and changing facilities in schools, private businesses, public shelters, and health care facilities, according to its website.
“Transgender people shouldn’t be criminalized for using the bathroom that matches the gender they live in every day,” they said.
Did Florida lawmakers think this through?
Florida State University student Kaleb Hobson-Garcia said lawmakers failed to consider trans people with “passing privilege.” Garcia asked the female lawmakers to consider him, a law-abiding citizen with a full beard, inside a women’s restroom with them.
“It looks like me in the stall, next to women, with my low voice and facial hair,” he said. “It looks like me with my characteristics that terrify you when they’re seen on trans women. It looks like me bringing discomfort and potentially traumatic experiences to women.”
Garcia said this law would put him at risk, as he asked what happens when husbands see him following their wives into the women’s restroom.
“This law would open the door to aggressive behavior inside and outside of bathrooms, as strangers demand other people prove their gender, making all people less safe,” he said. “And that does include cis people who don’t conform to stereotypical appearances for one reason or another.”
“If you pass this bill today, know that you are forcing me to use the bathroom with your daughters, wives, mothers, and sisters,” he added.
Getting it ‘right’
A disabled woman brought another issue to the committee’s attention: How will this affect the disabled community with caregivers of the opposite sex inside restrooms?
Another speaker pointed to the bill’s failure to outline a standard of proof and questioned whether the wrongly accused could sue for harassment.
Despite public testimony and concerns from her colleagues, Grall said she’s committed to getting this legislation “right.”
“We need to make this very clear for our constituents, and you have my commitment that that is what we will work to do before you see this bill the next time, and ultimately, hopefully, on the [Senate] floor,” she said.
Andrea Mercado, executive director of Florida Rising, said she knows many lawmakers have already made up their minds.
“So, my message is more to the queer and trans people: That we will fight alongside you and that we will do everything we can change who sits behind on that side of the wall” — as committee members.
–Briana Michel, Florida Phoenix
Tony Mack says
From The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law
Recent data from the CDC’s Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) provide an opportunity to update prior population estimates of the number of adults and youth who identify as transgender in the U.S. In 2016 and 2017, the Williams Institute used data from the 2014-15 BRFSS to estimate the number of adults (ages 18 and older) and youth (ages 13 to 17) who identify as transgender. Since then, a total of 43 states have used the BRFSS optional gender identity module for at least one year, providing more years of data from more states since these initial estimates. Additionally, in 2017, the YRBS, a national survey of high school students, began asking respondents if they are transgender. Since 2017, fifteen states have included this question in their YRBS statewide questionnaire. In this study, we use data from the 2017 and 2019 YRBS and the 2017- 2020 BRFSS to find that:
• Over 1.6 million adults (ages 18 and older) and youth (ages 13 to 17) identify as transgender in the United States, or 0.6% of those ages 13 and older.
• Among U.S. adults, 0.5% (about 1.3 million adults) identify as transgender. Among youth ages 13 to 17 in the U.S., 1.4% (about 300,000 youth) identify as transgender.
• Of the 1.3 million adults who identify as transgender, 38.5% (515,200) are transgender women, 35.9% (480,000) are transgender men, and 25.6% (341,800) reported they are gender nonconforming.
• Research shows transgender individuals are younger on average than the U.S. population. We find that youth ages 13 to 17 are significantly more likely to identify as transgender (1.4%) than adults ages 65 or older (0.3%).
• The racial/ethnic distribution of youth and adults who identify as transgender appears generally similar to the U.S. population, though our estimates mirror prior research that found transgender youth and adults are more likely to report being Latinx and less likely to report being White compared to the U.S. population.
• Our estimates of the percent of residents in U.S. regions who identify as transgender range from 1.8% in the Northeast to 1.2% in the Midwest for youth ages 13 to 17, and range from 0.6% in the Northeast to 0.4% in the Midwest for adults.
• At the state level, our estimates range from 3.0% of youth ages 13 to 17 identifying as transgender in New York to 0.6% in Wyoming. Our estimates for the percentage of adults who identify as transgender range from 0.9% in North Carolina to 0.2% in Missouri.
Overall, based on our estimates from 2016-2017 and the current report, we find that the percentage and number of adults who identify as transgender has remained steady over time. The availability of the YRBS data has given us a more direct look into youth gender identity and provides better data than was previously available to us for estimating the size and characteristics of the youth population. Youth ages 13 to 17 comprise a larger share of the transgender-identified population than we previously estimated, currently comprising about 18% of the transgender-identified population in the U.S., up from 10% previously.
According to the Williams Institute, the number of identified transgender people in Florida is approximately 98,000.
So for the sake of 98,000 people, most of whom just want to be left alone to pursue their lives in peace, the Tallahassee Taliban will vilify and demonize them under color of law.
Additionally, (Nation Nov 18, 2021 4:40 PM EDT)
2021 has shattered the record of transgender homicides in a year with 45 to date — most of them Black or Latinx — according to the Human Rights Campaign. Last year held the previous record with 44 trans murders.
Marquiisha Lawrence, a 28-year-old Black transgender woman in South Carolina, was killed on November 4. In a statement, Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative for HRC, called Lawrence’s death a tragic milestone, for her and for a community that deeply loved her.
The transgender writer and activist Raquel Willis called the news demoralizing and expected given the lack of investment in trans communities of color in recent years.“I think that there have been consistent failures at addressing transgender people and the system of oppression that we’re constantly facing,” Willis said. “Overwhelmingly, the leadership of our largest LGBTQ pride organizations are not Black and Brown trans women, or people in particular, and overwhelmingly they are not addressing our needs.”
Four more Black trans people were killed this year than last year, per HRC data.
More anti-trans bills were passed in 2021 than in any other year, with nine bills cracking down on transgender youth participation on extracurricular sports and another limiting adolescent access to gender-affirming medical care. Advocates have repeatedly raised concerns this year that language in those bills — which often characterizes trans girls as boys — would spur more violent attacks against trans people.
The tally of transgender murder victims has increasingly been common practice since the stabbing of Rita Hester in Boston in 1998. The death of Hester, who was misgendered by both mainstream and LGBTQ+ media, inspired transgender activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith to launch a website honoring those killed. The site would, in turn, spur Transgender Day of Remembrance as well as the practice of taking stock of those lost to violence.
But advocates warn that such totals can be flawed. In 2018, LGBTQ+ media organization GLAAD cautioned news outlets from sensationalizing stories about “the deadliest year on record for transgender people” without context.
Bet some of those numbers will go up here in Florida now that any anti-LGBQT can carry a gun without a license and training. They’ll all claim they were just “Standing their Ground.”
A big deal about nothing. Plenty of places around the world do not have gender differentiated bathrooms. Stalls are single person and urinals are designed such that if you stand close, nobody can see anything. Who cares? I don’t want to see anybody relieving themselves.
How would you like your 10 year old daughter sharing a bathroom with a biological male with all his male anatomy parts intact. And he’s in there because he identifies as a woman. Liberals are sick in the mind. This nonsense has to stop.
Bill C says
Under what circumstances would your scenario occur? An airport? Let mom go with her which is probably standard procedure anyway. Or a 10 year old “transgender” boy at school? Perhaps be more worried about her being shot at school.
Nancy N. says
I have never seen another person’s genitals in over 50 years of using woman’s bathrooms. WTH does YOUR sick mind imagine women are doing in there? Spoiler Alert: We go in a stall, close the door, and do our business. Then we come out and wash our hands. Scandalous.
I’ll tell you about my experience in the bathroom of the McDonald’s on the Champs Elysee in Paris but warning, it might give you heart palpitations. There was one entry door for both men and women. if you went to the right you were in the women’s “room”. If you went to the left, you were in the men’s “room”. The entirety of the space, except the interior of the cubicles with floor to ceiling doors (there was no urinals) was visible to everyone. As I stood at a sink washing my hands in the women’s room, a man stood a few feet away doing the same at a sink in the men’s room. Everyone minded their own business. No one saw any private parts. No one was traumatized or harmed. No big deal.
I’m wondering what exactly you think will happen if the person in the next stall to your daughter has different genitals from her? Trans people don’t go around announcing themselves…it’s entirely possible she’s already shared a bathroom with a trans person without realizing it. Because trans people are people…not monsters. They just need to use the bathroom, like everyone else. I’m guessing you don’t actually know a trans person, or you would know that.
Linda Lee Byars says
I can’t believe we are going backwards. For Christ sake just have restrooms for each groups Just do it. You stupid asses. Evil doers. Republicans evil cults all over. Shame on you.
It’s bloody common sense, not hate or any other silly notion. No woman wants to see some strange man in the same bathroom with her for a variety of reasons, security, safety, and more. We are getting so bent out of shape over Trans rights, what about the rights of everyone else? You know? The majority! Bottom line, if you have gear. You go into the appropriate rest room regardless of current mental/emotional condition. Time to grow up and stop this stupidity
Nancy N. says
I’m wondering how you even know what “gear” as you call it another person has in the bathroom? Do you inspect everyone you share a bathroom with? Time to grow up and MYOB.
@dave. . . and, just how is it that “you” actually know what ALL women want? Are you a woman named Dave? Do you desire to be a woman? Precisely what “gear” do you have? Do you want to switch gears? LOL!
Please, just STOP trying to speak for other people , especially on subjects for which you are obviously ill prepared. Thanks!
This is just another stupid distraction since the Republicans have no agenda other than culture wars.
What are you going to do, Republicans, stand by restroom doors and check people’s genitalia?
“Under Florida’s SB 1674, adults who enter a restroom or changing facility “designated for the opposite sex” and refuse to immediately leave when “asked to do so by another person in the restroom or changing facility,” will be penalized with a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail or a maximum $500 fine.”
Oh, I see, you want ME to monitor incoming genitalia. You want ME to confront people in public bathrooms. What if I’m wrong? You’re happy with ME getting sued. YOU do it, since you want this foolishness.
Well, I don’t want to join in this stupidity. Trans people have been using facilities for eons, get over it. I swear, Republicans have a very, very strange obsession with genitalia. How about getting back to real work instead of staging this nonsense?
Nancy N. says
This is how fascists work. They turn the population into informers and enforcers on each other. TX has done it with abortion. Now FL is doing it with trans people and bathrooms. I’m sure there is more to come. Soon, everyone will be scared of their neighbors for one reason or another and will keep to themselves out of fear, thus stifling the ability to organize meaningful dissent.
Right On Nancy! Thanks so much!
Joseph Barand says
I want to know how our Repubican, Conservative and Evangelist law makers handle their children who are a “little” different. We know how their wives and daughters get DNC’s rather than Abortions?
When I was in school the bathrooms were marked boys, and girls. Two different rooms, two different sexes. I’m confused now. Where are we heading. What female want to be a bathroom room with males? Thank God my daughter is grown.
Pierre Tristam says
When you were in school the bathrooms were also marked White and Colored, as you never stop reminding us (and hope you never do). So all of a sudden because it’s sex, you’re ok with dehumanizing others?
Timothy Patrick Welch says
Best the standard should be individual use only, so opportunistic individuals won’t take advantage of easy access to youngsters’ bathrooms.
Or maybe a picture of “David” on one and “Walking in Beauty” on the other?
Ooooooh! Good one, Pierre!
It’s very, very simple. . . have one door to enter a restroom filled with “private” stalls and another with a door to enter a room with only urinals. . . . regardless of gender!!!! Geez!!!
Notice to Liberals and Conservatives hell bent on bathroom inclusion issues .
Go take a dump, pee a pee , or change out a tampon /pad and go on your merry way !
Public bathrooms aren’t meant to be a destination vacation, they generally stink and are not well ventilated areas, do what you need to do and mind your own business
End of Story !
old on, beep beep beep news flash, Gov Ron will have personal bathroom inspectors to inspect each person before entry and then designate the bathroom of the inspectors choice :)