Arizona is at it again. Just one month after the Phoenix City Council voted to amend an anti-discrimination law to include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, Arizona lawmakers have just passed a bill that overrides some of those protections. Arizona Senate Bill SB 1045, authored by Rep. John Kavanagh (R-AZ), originally sought to make it a Class 1 Misdemeanor for transgender individuals to use a bathroom other than one that aligns with the gender on their birth certificate. At first you might not recognize the inherent discrimination in this bill, so allow me to elaborate.
Gender identity is an important aspect of a person’s self-concept and self-esteem, especially in childhood, and has a considerable impact on development, social opportunities, occupational goals, and several other aspects of personal growth. People who are transgender identify with a gender that is different from their biological one. In other words, someone who was born as a biological male would identify themselves as female and vice versa. This disparity usually begins early in life (typically, before the age of five) and carries on into adulthood. People who are transgender live and dress in a way that matches the gender they feel they truly are, not the gender that matches their physical body. As psychologists grow to understand this phenomenon, they are beginning to realize that it is a biological trait with possible genetic influences, not a mental disorder as previously thought. It is believed that transgenderism is linked to differences in brain development that occur in utero. Thanks to hormone therapy, most people would never know the difference between someone who is transgender and someone who is not. This is why the new Arizona Law is so egregiously offensive.
After passing the State Senate, nationwide outrage led the Arizona House Appropriations Committee to make a few slight changes to the bill. The new law, which passed on a 7-4 vote, legally protects businesses that choose to bar transgender individuals from using a restroom aligned with their gender identity. This new bill completely undermines the anti-discrimination legislation that was enacted back on February 28th of this year. Not only is this a flagrant violation of privacy, it actually gives businesses permission to discriminate.
It will be interesting to see how efficient this law is when a transgender woman wearing makeup and a dress walks into the men’s room at a local store or restaurant. Or let’s say she doesn’t. Let’s say she continues to use the women’s restroom as she always has. Most people can’t tell that she is transgender anyway, and if for some reason they suspect, what are they going to do? Ask her to drop her pants to prove her womanhood? Ask for an ID when she uses the restroom?
This bill serves no legitimate purpose other than to marginalize a group of people that make Republicans uncomfortable; who could possibly be more fitting than Arizona to sign it into law?