Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick introduced a controversial proposal that would, if approved, require people to use public restrooms that match their biological sex, regardless of their preferred gender.
The goal of the bill — the Women’s Privacy Act — is to protect the privacy rights of women and girls who do not wish to share public restrooms with biological men. In this sense, it is being proposed that women and girls are not safe enough to use the same restrooms with transgender people.
The approval of the bill will directly affect many Texas universities, including Texas State, which is known for its diversity and equality. The university consist of various diverse organizations that support transgender equality, such as Transcend, Lambda, Bobcat PRIDE and Bobcat Equality Alliance, and some members of the university feel the proposal would cause major conflict with the mission driven behind them.
Katherine Bansemer, international studies senior and president of Feminist United at Texas State, said her initial reaction upon hearing about this bill was pure disgust.
“Bills like this only encourage violence and bigotry,” Bansemer said. “First of all, gender is not ‘preferred.’ If someone identifies as a gender, then that is their gender. So called “bathroom bills” say they want to “protect” women and girls, but what about trans women and girls who are already more likely than their cisgendered women to experience violence and assault? I can guarantee that it is about 100 times more dangerous for trans women to exist in this world much less use a bathroom. It’s 2017, let people pee in peace.”
Monica Richerson, English junior and vice president of Lambda of Texas State, had a similar response to the bill, also noting the university does not have many accommodations for transgender people.
“(I think) on this entire campus, there are only seven gender neutral restrooms,” Richerson said. “I think (the bill) contributes to transphobia and homophobia. If you see someone who doesn’t look like how you think they should look, then you automatically think they don’t belong. Just let people pee.”
Transcend member Alex Marquez felt the bill did not cater to trans people’s needs at all, considering who they are and how they see themselves.
“They’re calling it the Woman’s’ Privacy Act. The implication is that they’re talking about “real” women; women who are assigned female at birth and that identify with that, instead of trans women that work very, very hard to prove that they are, in fact, women. It’s trans-exclusionary.”
Kyomarys Figueroa, international relations junior, felt the bill violated basic human rights.
“The act is ridiculous and further proof that our government is not inclusive or understanding of its constituents. You’re taking away (transgendered people’s) freedom, in a sense. You’re not allowing them to embrace the gender they identify with.”
Transcend Vice President Emma Bogue said as a transitioning trans woman herself, this bill would deeply affect her everyday life greatly.
“I feel like it’s pandering to the type of people who don’t want me and my friends to exist,” Bogue said. “It feels like I’m being targeted and attacked, which as a transwoman, I’m used to. I would not feel safe to go anywhere on campus by myself.”
Richerson and Bogue both feel that if the Woman’s Privacy Act was passed, there would still hope for the trans community here on campus.
Becoming an Ally, supporting your trans friends and going with them to the bathrooms are just some of the little things Richerson feels students can do to advocate on behalf of the trans community here on campus.
“As far as advocating for myself and people I care about, we at Transcend organize as individuals and engage in mostly local protests,” Bogue said. “With something this specific happening, we would organize. One thing I know about these people that I know and trust, is that when push comes to shove, we look after each other.”