Across the country, transgender people are under attack, and in my observation, logic and facts are not at a premium in the discussion.
Many of the legislators I have met with in Indiana admit they know little about transgender people.
Even still, in the 2016 legislative session in Indiana, Republican Senator Jim Tomes introduced SB 35. The bill would prohibit schools from ever allowing transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity.
The bill also mandates that any transgender person that uses a public sex-specific restroom that corresponds to their gender identity has committed a Class A misdemeanor—this is the highest non-felony charge in Indiana, and it is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
This is demeaning and insulting to me and other trans and gender nonconforming people. The bill proposes that I should go to jail and lose money I don’t have, all because I have to pee.
Also, not to be paranoid, but shouldn’t I be concerned about the possibility of going to jail in Indiana?
Which jail would they send me to? Would I be housed with other women? Would I be susceptible to rape or murder in jail? Not to mention the financial implications—being transgender has not been helpful to my consulting business. How could I come up with $5,000 if I was arrested?
And all of this is because they want to keep me out of the ladies room. If a law like this was passed, what would be my alternative? I would be in danger if I had to go to a men’s room. Also I drink a lot of tea, so holding it all day won’t work!
A bill like this would go beyond just a nuisance and become life threatening. I don’t want to lose my life or risk attack because I have to pee.
The thing is—I have never had an issue with anyone in the ladies room. Ever.
In fact, I have rescued two diamond rings and returned them to the ladies who had removed them when they washed their hands. I ran after them, and they were quite pleased that they didn’t lose their rings.
I think that makes my bathroom score: Good-2. Evil-Zero! But as I stated earlier, logic and facts are irrelevant when measured against people’s ignorance, fear, or bigotry.
While I’ve been assured that Indiana’s HB 35 will die a quiet death in committee, the fact that it was ever proposed alerted Hoosiers to the “dangers” of my going to the bathroom. Something that has never been a problem is now in the public consciousness. This decreases my safety in my daily life.
Across the country, legislators have proposed at least 44 bills that target trans and gender nonconforming people.
The cynical side of me says that LGBT opponents might be frustrated since they couldn’t stop same sex marriage, so they are taking out their frustration on transgender people.
When I asked an influential Indiana legislator why some people were so fixated on transgender people, he responded that some people need something to get excited about. And for now, transgender people are the targets. He said that if it wasn’t transgender people, it would be someone or something else.
After I became aware of a number of these “Transgender Bathroom” bills (there are currently 26 proposed across the country), I decided that perhaps music and humor might be a better way to shed some light on the implications of these laws.
That’s why I wrote my song: "When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go."
You can watch the video below, and be sure to sing along. Then share it with your friends to spread the word about these harmful bills!
Photo via flickr user Jon-Eric Melsæter