Arkansas lawmakers have joined Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming this year and jumped on the Bathroom Bill train.
It’s pretty basic. SB774 (Linda Collins-Smith) says, in essence, use the bathroom that matches what is on your birth certificate, or sex at birth, just like North Carolina. It states that “sex” is “a person’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth”. (That is exactly what Roger Severino (Director of Civil Rights at DHHS) has asked Congress to do to the constitution as one step of his three-step plan to make it “illegal” to be transgender int the United States, by the way.)
HB1894 (Mickey Gates) is being amended to prohibit “sex” on birth certificates being changed. The bill being voted on will have the language allowing for birth certificate changes for people who have had their sex changed by surgical procedure completely stricken from the record.
Bob Ballinger wants to amend HB1986. That bill defines Indecent Exposure and the penalties ($2,500 fine, 1 year incarceration) for the offense. The language says a person who exposes their sex organs “in a public place” and “causes affront or alarm” to a “member of the opposite sex” is committing a crime. This means anyone who is uncomfortable with how a person looks (because what else can you go on in a public restroom?) has the support of the state, and can get local authorities involved to deal with the “criminal”.
Gwen Fry, president of the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition says that these bills are an attempt to “legislate the trans community out of existence.” Fry also said “We’ve seen a real change in the climate here. It’s a very tenuous place to be in and highly stressful for individuals in the trans community. They’re trying to make it illegal to be transgender.”
These bills and amendments have yet to be made. The House and Senate have a chance to make them just disappear (Governor Asa Hutchison can veto the Bathroom Bill if it passes the Senate) and of course that would be best. But with the current climate under the Trump Reich, I mean Administration, I can see the hope for progress fading.