Guest column: Bathroom bill could affect transgender students, sending AZ politics down toilet again
We’ve all heard the phrase “show me your papers” in reference to Senate Bill 1070, the bill that gives Arizonan authorities the right to — and responsibility of — racial profiling.
Now, another “papers” bill is being proposed in the Arizona Legislature, but this time it is policing gender identity. Basically, the amendment to Arizona’s SB 1432 would make it a criminal act if a person enters a public bathroom and the sign on that bathroom does not match the sex on their birth certificate.
That makes sense, right? Boy bathrooms are for boys and girl bathrooms are for girls, right?
Well, actually, no, it isn’t that easy. This bill has horrible implications for transgender individuals — people who identify as a different gender than the sex they were assigned at birth — and for people who just don’t fit perfectly within that whole “boy” or “girl” binary.
But don’t worry, I’m sure the drafters of this bill had no intention of it harmfully targeting these individuals. There are plenty of other reasons they could have proposed this bill. I’ll just have to let you know when I think of them.
Here’s the thing: SB 1432 would theoretically require all restroom patrons to carry their birth certificates on them whenever entering a public restroom, dressing room or locker room.
This is obviously unrealistic.
Basically this would give authorities the right to assume what sex people are, or their gender identity, based only on how they look. So when a cop knocks on a bathroom stall and says, “Show me your papers,” they’ll really be saying, “I don’t believe you are a male” or “I don’t believe you are a female,” because to them, you don’t look enough like one.
Because this bill applies to all public restrooms, and our university is a public institution, transgender students here at the UA could be arrested for using the bathroom in between classes.
In order to change the sex on a birth certificate in Arizona, there must be verification of a sex change operation.
Many transgender individuals haven’t undergone these surgeries because they don’t have the means to pay for them (they can cost over $50,000) or choose not to for personal reasons.
Whatever the reason is, it simply isn’t fair for Arizona to require transgender citizens to surgically alter their bodies just so that they can use a public restroom.
As it turns out, this bill could also affect the daily lives of other students on our very own campus.
Ladies, we all know those pesky single-stall restrooms that gather a line of 10 other women, while the single-stall men’s room remains completely empty. Don’t even think about stepping out of line to use that vacant stall, or you may find that the next bathroom you use is behind bars.
The government should keep politics out of the bathroom and focus on other issues. The only “papers” that anyone should have to worry about in the bathroom are Charmin and Angel Soft.
— Danielle Dobrusin is a senior studying political science and gender and women’s studies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.