Saturday, February 21, 2015

Debbie Riddle wants Potty Police to combat gender bending in Texas restrooms

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department, I think this may be my favorite* new crime proposed yet in 2015: Texas state Rep. Debbie Riddle has filed legislation making it a Class A misdemeanor for a transgendered person to use the restroom of their adopted gender, even after reassignment surgery, and a state jail felony for a building manager to allow them to do so.

Indeed, the bill goes beyond transgendered people to criminalize anyone entering the restroom of the opposite gender with three exceptions: if they enter for custodial purposes, to give medical attention, or accompanying a minor under eight years old. I can think of more than one instance in my life where I would have committed a Class A misdemeanor under this provision, how about you?

My wife suggested that many women may have violated this proposed law at nightclubs or public events because the lines to women's restrooms are always quite long and the stalls in the men's room are frequently empty.

Criminalizing that demographic may be an unintended consequence. But to me, what makes it look like the bill targets transgendered folk are the particular gender definitions imposed in the bill:
For the purpose of this section, the gender of an individual is the gender established at the individual's birth or the gender established by the individual's chromosomes.  A male is an individual with at least one X chromosome and at least one Y chromosome, and a female is an individual with at least one X chromosome and no Y chromosomes.  If an individual's gender established at the individual's birth is not the same as the individual's gender established by the individual's chromosomes, the individual's gender established by the individual's chromosomes controls under this section.
That definition understates the complexity of possible chromosomal variations and conflates a cultural construction - "gender" - with chromosomal sex determination in ways that don't jibe with modern understanding. "Gender" is not necessarily "established by the individual's chromosomes." According to the World Health Organization, "Gender, typically described in terms of masculinity and femininity, is a social construction that varies across different cultures and over time. There are a number of cultures, for example, in which greater gender diversity exists and sex and gender are not always neatly divided along binary lines such as male and female or homosexual and heterosexual." One may or may not agree with that assessment of gender vs. sex, culture vs. science, but the WHO analysis points to the fact that these questions are not nearly so cut and dried as the binary framework suggested in Rep. Riddle's bill. At a minimum, it would set the stage for years of litigation as every gender-identity permutation steps forward to assert their preferences. Implementing this statute would be a full-on mess.

Ironically, it's likely that, if this bill passed, it would hasten the move toward unisex restrooms so that building managers wouldn't risk committing a state jail felony if the wrong person uses the wrong toilet. It'd seem like the only rational response from a business perspective. Why risk committing a state jail felony when you can eliminate the possibility by posting two stick figures on the door instead of one?

Unintended consequences, anyone?

*My "favorite" not because I approve of the suggestion but because I'm entertained by it.

MORE: Apparently this group has been promoting this idea for some time. Their effort appears to have begun in earnest after Houston Mayor Annise Parker issued an executive order allowing "transgendered individuals to use restroom facilities in city-owned buildings for the gender with which they identify." Last year she backtracked on the issue, to a degree. AND MORE: Checking Google News, I discovered there is legislation on this topic (failing) in Kentucky and Florida. According to this source (Feb. 10):
In 2013, a proposed bill in Arizona (why is it always Florida and Arizona?) would have allowed police to stop anyone suspected of using the "wrong" bathroom and demand identification. Had the bill not been defeated, violators would have faced a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail. Earlier this month, a Colorado bill that died in committee would have banned transgender students from accessing changing rooms.
So this is a coordinated effort across multiple states, not just one oddbird bill in Texas.

AND MORE: This article from Towleroad followed up on Grits' story and has been driving a lot of traffic here. WOAI Radio covered the bill and contacted Debbie Riddle's office, who surprisingly declined to comment. Rep. Riddle hasn't been microphone-shy in the past. The San Antonio Current also ran a piece. AND MORE: Texas Monthly picked up on the story. See coverage from The Advocate and State of Trans

And three days after Grits broke this story, there's this: Via the Dallas Voice, Equality Texas put out an action alert opposing Riddle's legislation.

27 comments:

Robert Langham said...

This woman should resign, pack up her stuff and get the heck out of the capitol.

Potty Mouth said...

Grits she's one of those "less government" Republicans you keep talking about, right? ;)

Gadfly said...

Speaking of such things, city of Plano has rejected the petitions challenging its LGBT ordinance: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20150220-petitions-targeting-planos-lgbt-ordinance-ruled-invalid.ece

Katy Anders said...

It''s going to be rough having to wait for the results of genetic testing to come back before we can use the restroom...

sunray's wench said...

Don't your police and courts have enough to do these days?

@Katy Anders ~ you know what's coming next though, you'll all have to be microchipped, and the doors will only open for you if your digital gender matches the sign on the door...

Anonymous said...

This would be utterly unenforceable, as, by its terms, it would require a DNA test in order to prosecute. I sincerely doubt there's a law enforcement agency in this state willing to pay to DNA test someone suspected of using the wrong bathroom.

By the by, I'm a social conservative who opposes gay marriage and such, but I don't think you need to be a transgender Communist to believe that when a bathroom is a one-holer, it really ought to be unisex. The men's and women's one-holers at the Starbucks drives me nuts. Who on earth could possibly be offended if I stand alone in one tiny room and take a whiz instead of taking said whiz while standing alone in a different, but identical, tiny room four feet away?

Anonymous said...

Here's a radical idea: allow private businesses and their customers to sort it out. I know that embracing private property rights and freedom of association makes me some kind of extremist that DHS should probably keep tabs on, and yet time and again it seems like most workable solutions to (non)problems are grounded in this analytical framework.

TriggerMortis said...

Seems like the only thing missing from this proposed legislation is the requirement for those convicted to be on the Sex Offender Registry.

I'll quickly rip her an email suggesting she add this requirement so the bill will be sure to pass.

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember "pottygate"? That was a case back in 1990 in Houston when a woman used the men's restroom at the rodeo and was ticketed by a cop. The resulting fallout from the trial where she was acquitted caused the legislature to enact a law requiring twice as many women's restrooms to be built in new construction of buildings. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/157635/TEXAS-SENATE-OKS-BILL-TO-RELIEVE-LONG-LINES-AT-WOMENS-RESTROOMS.html?pg=all

"Those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it".- George Santayana

DEWEY said...

Or, require business owners to have a private toilet room for every person present (Have fun, sports arenas !!!) (Insert sarcasm !!)

Anonymous said...

What an amazingly dumb and unkind proposal to solve a non-existent problem. And I can't help sniggering because "I'm dying for a Jimmy Riddle" is English slang for dying for a pee. Is her husband called Jimmy, by any chance? Please?!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

There is no gender.

Anonymous said...

IDK, What I do know is that this is much more complex than just 'check for teabags before entering'.

Anonymous said...

People like Debbie Riddle was assigned the right gender at birth, so why should they care who uses which bathrooms? Honestly it's like society is going backwards. Everyone, including trans people just want to pee.

ckikerintulia said...

A few years ago I accidentally went into the wrong restroom at a chain restaurant while we were traveling. Noticed there was no latrine; didn't think anything about it. Went into a stall and saw a woman's shoe in the adjacent stall. Got my butt up and out of there pronto.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

If Debbie Riddle had her way, Rev., you'd have had Johnny Law on your trail.

Max Grant said...

What is this useless, hateful hag's problem anyway?

Does she need a hobby, or perhaps some important work to actually do?

Trans Grrl said...

Do these people seriously have nothing better to do than write trans-exclusive bathroom bills (with hilarious unintended consequences?)

If I'm going to the bathroom, the last thing I want to do is creep on another lady. I just want to be able to go into a bathroom and take a leak without worrying about some man beating the stuffing out of me for being forced by law to wear a dress into the men's room.

Anonymous said...

Poll of millenials on gender: Half think gender not limited to male and female.

"Red" Merriweather Coast said...

I like how it specifically says that chromosomes control over gender established at birth. You know, women with AIS can go their whole lives without realizing that they have XY chromosomes. I guess they're criminals, better lock them up.

Jami said...

Despite the fact that there has NEVER been in instance of a guy dressing in drag to sneak into the women's restroom to molest women, I understand this dim bulb's desire to keep creepy transwomen (like me) out of that restroom because she's afraid of her own shadow and doesn't really understand what gender is. However, what she fails to comprehend is that some balding, hairy, bearded transman in a biker vest will be forced into that same restroom with her.

Jami said...

If she's a woman who has had a male child, there is a real chance that she has XY chromosomes floating around inside her body. Therefore, according to this bill's definition of "male" and "female", she would have to use the men's restroom.

Zoe Brain said...

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan;93(1):182-9

A 46,XY mother who developed as a normal woman underwent spontaneous puberty, reached menarche, menstruated regularly, experienced two unassisted pregnancies, and gave birth to a 46,XY daughter with complete gonadal dysgenesis.

Zoe Brain said...

1 in 300 men don't have the 46,XY chromosomes most men do.

They all without exception have at least one X chromosome, sometimes several. Most have a Y, sometimes more than one. But not every guy does - CAH syndromes (there are several), De La Chapelle syndrome and a few others have no Y chromosome at all. Some have fathered children despite this.

All women without exception have at least one X chromosome. Most, though not all, have two. Some have more than 2. Some have a Y chromosome as well, again, sometimes more than one. CAIS, Swyer, the 3BHSD form of CAH syndrome, and some others can all cause this.

This bill is up there with bills proclaiming that Pi=3 (because of the Bible) or that the Earth is Flat, or the Sun revolves around the Earth.

Joorie Doodie said...

The part making it a crime for a building manager to "allow" indivuduals of the "wrong" sex to enter the "wrong" restroom--or would it be the "wrong" sex in the "right" restroom or "right" sex in the...oh to hell with it...surely couldn't have any unintended consequences, right? You know like business owners just locking up their restrooms and making everybody just "hold it?" Or maybe increasing costs to businesses by making them pay people to police the restrooms unless they want to just build a bunch of "one-holers?" Hey, I'm a conservative Republican, but this is clearly a Big Brother, more government, nanny-state idea.

Katie Sprinkle said...

As a transgender woman, I am asking for everyone's help in fighting this bill. Please use this link to send emails to Riddle and you own State Rep to stop this bill.
To my fellow colleagues:

There are two bills pending in the State House that would criminalize a transgender person's using the bathroom. This legislation is fear mongering at its worst and vilifies transgender people. Please help me as a TCDLA member and transgender woman stop this legislation. This link will allow you to contact your state rep and email them about this horrible legislation.

http://equalityfederation.salsalabs.com/o/35034/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=1552&killorg=True