Arizona’s Republican legislatures are trying to pass a law that forces transgender people to use the public restrooms, dressing rooms and showers associated with the gender listed on their birth certificate.
Lawmakers proposed it in response to a human rights bill passed by Phoenix that prohibits gender identity discrimination in public accommodations.
Rep. John Kavanagh leads the bill which makes it a criminal offense for transgenders to use the “wrong” public restroom.
When a person violates this law, they could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor which is punishable by fines of up to $4,000 and six months in prison.
Rep. Tom Simplot said this is the type of legislation which brings criticism to the state.
“This kind of extremist legislation is exactly what brings criticism to Arizona and compromises our work to make Phoenix an accepting and competitive city,” he said.
People are also pointing out that the name of the legislation, called “the bathroom bill,” is inflammatory. Supporters of the bill claim it will reduce sexual predation.
SImplot argues that it would criminalize “the very nature” of being transgender, and that the bill creates “a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said the bill “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 laws are in effect in more than 160 cities and 16 states.”
Keisling said the problem of sexual predation on minors that the bill promises 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.”