ICSR T3 to discuss bathroom legislation

Brittiny Moore

WKU’s Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility will present “Criminalizing Trans Bodies: Dissecting Contemporary Bathroom Bills” at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Downing Student Union room 2123 as part of its Third Tuesday Tea.

The event will include a discussion from associate professor of history Patti Minter and ICSR program support specialist Andrew Salman.

The pair will discuss the implications of bathroom bills on the transgender community and how the language in which these bills are written resembles other historic bills promoting discrimination.

“Recently lots and lots of states, especially in the South, have been pushing these bills that really limit transgender people’s access to public accommodations based on biological sex,” Salman said. “They make it very difficult for transgender people to go about daily life.”

It has been almost a year since the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. On June 26, the Supreme Court reached a 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S.

In the time since this ruling, more than 100 active bills across 22 states are in existence that work to deny services to people of the LGBT community, according to the Huffington Post.

Mississippi, for example, has passed a law allowing any person or business to deny services to same-sex couples based on religious convictions.

In North Carolina, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law House Bill 2 that bans cities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances in favor of the LGBT community and banning transgender people from using bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Salman said the individuals pushing these bathroom bills are saying their bans address a public safety issue for those who are not transgender — a statement Salman said is baseless.

“It is very dangerous for trans people to go into bathrooms if they can’t freely choose which one they feel safer in,” Salman said. “There are lots and lots of reports of transgender people being assaulted for being in the wrong room.”

Salman said the talk would investigate what these bathroom bills are and what they are really aiming at.

“A lot of language in these bills about the safety of children and women very directly mirrors the language used in the Jim Crow laws,” Salman said.

Minter said that much like what we’ve seen throughout history, campaigns have been launched to create scare tactics of transgender people using bathrooms of the gender they identify with.

“We’ve seen throughout history that appealing to people’s fears about sexuality or sharing spaces with women has always worked very well in getting people to vote against all kind of rights-based legislation,” Minter said.

We’ve seen throughout history that ap- pealing to people’s fears about sexuality or sharing spaces with women has always worked very well in getting people to vote against all kinds of rights-based legisla- tion.

Minter said much of her talk will be discussing how, over time, fears of others and who those others are have changed. She plans to talk about how these fears have become an effective way to enact discriminatory public policy.

“This really is about criminalizing trans because it in essence creates no public space for trans people,” Minter said. “People are not free if they cannot deal with their basic bodily functions in public.”

Minter said she expects all participants at Third Tuesday Tea will gain an understanding of the historical basis for discriminatory laws over time and how these laws criminalize trans bodies.

“It is certainly our hope that cooler, more rights-based thinking will prevail over time and that … the majority of public opinion will shift toward the human rights-based belief that all people must be welcomed and included in public space in order for there to be liberty and justice for all,” Minter said.