Alabama Town Criminalizes Bathroom Use By Trans People

Alabama Town Criminalizes Bathroom Use By Trans People April 27, 2016

Transgender people using a public bathroom in Oxford, Alabama now face a $500 fine and six months in jail.

Tuesday the city council of Oxford, Alabama voted unanimously to criminalize the use of public restrooms by transgender citizens. The new law restricts a person’s use of public bathrooms and changing rooms to the facilities designated for use by those of the gender listed on his or her birth certificate.

The new law applies within both the city’s limits and police jurisdiction. Violations can result in a $500 fine or six months in jail.

Oxford City Council President Steven Waits said in a statement that the ordinance came in response to Target’s new restroom and changing room policies. Target has a store in the Oxford Exchange shopping center.

Recently conservative Christians have worked themselves into a lather over Target stores’ decision to allow transgender customers to use restrooms designated for their expressed gender.

In a statement issued last week Target said transgender people should use whichever restroom or fitting room matches their gender identity, saying inclusivity is a “core belief at Target.”

In response to the humane statement, paranoid conservative Christians launched a #BoycottTarget campaign on social media.

In a statement condemning the new anti-trans ordinance in Oxford, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) notes:

This anti-transgender law is unprecedented in its establishment of criminal penalties for violations of the law, and raises a myriad of privacy and legal concerns, including questions about how the law will be enforced. There is no clarity on whether all people in Oxford will be expected to produce birth certificates when using public facilities or, if not, how law enforcement officials will obtain evidence.

HRC Alabama State Manager Eva Walton Kendrick said:

This ordinance is a shameful and vile attack on the rights and privacy of transgender people. Transgender people are our neighbors, our coworkers and our fellow churchgoers, and every Alabamian has the right to live their lives without fear of discrimination and prejudice.

Kendrick is correct. The new law in Oxford is a shameful and vile attack on transgender people. The law plays on the discredited and malicious myth that transgender people using public bathrooms pose some sort of threat. However, the facts show that transgender people using public bathrooms do not pose a threat to others.

Yet despite the facts, the myth continues. Earlier this week a notorious conservative Christian lawyer threatened transgender bathroom users with gun violenceAnita Staver, president of the theocratic law group The Liberty Counsel, issued a thinly veiled death threat to transgender people via Twitter. Staver said she will carry a gun to Target so she can shoot transgender bathroom users.

However, there is no justification for the transgender bathroom hysteria exhibited by Staver and other conservative Christians. A recent report issued by Media Matters cites experts from twelve states – including law enforcement officials, state human rights workers, and sexual assault victims advocates – who debunk the myth that transgender non-discrimination laws and policies have any relation to incidents of sexual assault or harassment in public restrooms.

In fact, if one is concerned about public bathroom safety, it is Republican politicians, and not transgender people, that are most likely to be engaged in sexual misconduct. Multiple reports indicate that no transgender individual has ever been arrested for sexual misconduct in a public bathroom, while at least three Republican lawmakers have been arrested for sexual misconduct in a public restroom.

Bottom line: The new law in Oxford, Alabama that will punish transgender people for using a public bathroom with a fine and jail time is yet another example of the transgender bathroom hysteria that is sweeping the nation, a hysteria fueled by the ignorance and bigotry of conservative Christians.

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