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What You Need to Know About SB6—And Why It’s So Bad for the Trans Community

What You Need to Know About SB6—And Why It’s So Bad for the Trans Community

What You Need to Know About SB6—And Why It’s So Bad for the Trans Community

Texas' anti-trans bathroom bill would require people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificate.


Currently working its way through the Texas state legislature, Senate Bill 6 seeks to require individuals in Texas to use public restrooms or any public facilities "where a person may be in a state of undress" based not on their gender identity but, instead, the sex listed on their birth certificate. Anyone found in violation of the law would be issued a civil penalty between $1,000 and $1,500 for the first violation and between $10,000 and $10,500 for each subsequent violation.

The bill resembles North Carolina's infamous House Bill 2 which, a year since it was signed into law, continues to affect the state negatively. Last week, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) threatened to move its championship events from NC until 2022 if HB2 wasn’t repealed. The Associated Press also recently revealed that HB2 may ultimately cost North Carolina over $3.76 billion over the next decade, a total that does not include the potential loss of NCAA events until 2022.

While Senate Bill 6 is not yet law and still must be voted on by the Texas House, there are a number of problems with the bill that must be addressed.

Republican state Senator Lois Kolkhorst, SB6’s sponsor, argued that the bill is “about privacy and protection for all people” who use public restrooms, yet the bill itself does nothing to promote privacy and protection for all people. SB6 zeroes in on the irrational fears many transphobic cisgender Americans have and attempts to put their worries aside while, at the same time, refusing to acknowledge and intensifying the fears and worries of the trans community: 70% of transgender and gender non-conforming Americans have reported being denied access, verbally harassed, or physically assaulted in public restrooms and 64% of transgender people have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime.

Forcing trans men and women to use public bathrooms based on the sex listed on their birth certificates raises a few questions: If a trans man’s birth certificate labels him a female but he presents and expresses himself as a man, why must he use the women’s restroom? If a trans woman’s birth certificate labels her a male but she presents and expresses herself as a woman, why must she use the men’s restroom? Will Senator Kolkhorst, or anyone really, be there to explain to the potentially frightened men and women in the restroom that these trans men and women are, in fact, using the correct restroom as the law requires? Also, will Senator Kolkhorst or the Texas government be liable for any physical or mental abuse trans individuals face when forced to use the bathroom based on the sex listed on their birth certificate?

In addition to establishing bathroom regulations, Senate Bill 6 aims to prohibit local governments in Texas from adopting or enforcing nondiscrimination laws and ordinances that would seek to protect LGBTQ+ residents. Cities in Texas like Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Plano would be forced to nullify their nondiscrimination efforts, potentially putting LGBTQ+ people at risk of being discriminated upon in the workplace.

This is frightening considering nondiscrimination laws and ordinances simply are meant to stress the equal rights that all American citizens are supposed to be guaranteed. These laws and ordinances do not give anyone special rights, and states that have passed anti-discrimination laws related to gender identity have not reported any spikes in assaults or crimes. Prohibiting local governments from enacting nondiscrimination ordinances is solely done to allow for legal discrimination to take place.

The private business element of the bill is also frightening. If Senate Bill 6 passes, it will prohibit any political subdivision from considering whether or not a private entity has adopted a policy that relates to regulating bathrooms. This puts LGBTQ-friendly cities at risk of being accused of passing over businesses with transphobic bathroom policies, even when the bathroom policy was truly not considered.

Bathroom bills like Senate Bill 6 and House Bill 2 fail a percentage of the very people they claim to protect. They encourage transphobia and incite violence against the trans community under the false guise of protecting “all Americans” from a threat that does not exist. If Senator Kolkhorst truly was fighting for the privacy and protections of all people, she would be on the front lines fighting for the rights of the trans community, which faces increasing rates of violence, sexual abuse, and discrimination daily.

Just as state Senator and former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson stressed: "Using fear to justify discrimination & harm folks under the pretense of protecting the majority from an amorphous threat is an alarming trend" and, as minorities continue to fight to be heard and recognized, we as minorities must remember that we have to hold our politicians accountable, especially when they claim to be fighting for all Americans but neglect and discriminate against a percentage of them.


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Matthew Barley

Matthew Barley is a freelance writer who puts emphasis on the importance of community, identity, and equality. He also takes music way too seriously. 

Matthew Barley is a freelance writer who puts emphasis on the importance of community, identity, and equality. He also takes music way too seriously.