Indiana once again finds itself in the national spotlight for anti-LGBT bigotry. This time, the Republican target is transgendered people, and they have proposed a law that forces trans people to pay a tax or spend time in jail for simply going to the bathroom in public. The bill, which was written and introduced by Indiana GOP Senator Jim Tomes, would literally make it illegal for transgender people to use the restroom that lines up with their gender identity instead of their biological gender assignment.
Sen. Tomes’ bill, SB 35, is pretty much designed to criminalize the very existence of transgender people. Tomes calls his bill “simple,” and swears that it has nothing to do with discrimination, while it obviously is nothing but discriminatory. The bill would force public education facilities in Indiana to violate Title IX and contradict Board of Education decrees that mandate schools to allow trans students to use the locker rooms, showers, and restrooms that match their gender identification.
More significantly, any transgender person using the restroom in public that matches their gender identity instead of their biological gender assignment will be found to be guilty of a “single sex public facility trespass,” punishable with imprisonment and fines up to $5,000. In other words, this guy wants to literally put people in prison for using the bathroom he thinks is the wrong one.
When questioned about the bill, Tomes said he was protecting people who expect privacy when using facilities:
“Shouldn’t we also ask about…what about the other sector of society of people that who have all through the decades women been using women’s restrooms and men been using men’s restrooms and kind of like that and kind of expect that level of privacy?”
This has nothing to do with privacy and everything to do with discrimination, no matter what Sen. Tomes says. He has likely used the restroom in the company of many transgender men and doesn’t even know it. What are they planning to do, make people drop their drawers at the restroom door? Administer chromosome tests?
Indiana seems to have learned nothing from the overwhelming backlash to their anti-gay religious discrimination scandal of last summer. They are once again heading up the fight to allow religious bigots to run roughsod over LGBT people via the law, and criminalize anyone who refuses to adhere to his conception of gender normativity.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.