Transgender Safety: How a Law Can Promote Harassment
Written by Guest Blogger: Afton Bradley
Often when we think of street harassment, we think one person or a group of people committing this harassment against another individual or group. We don’t often think about policies and laws which create an environment where harassment is more likely to happen. In the past few weeks, Arizona has been striving for such a law. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed a new draft of a bill that was originally created to prevent transgender persons from using their desired restroom. Phoenix had recently passed a law to protect transgender persons from being kicked out of locker rooms and bathrooms. This state level bill was a direct effort to overturn that law.
After advocacy efforts from the local and national LGBTQ community forced the original bill to be revised, this new bill found success in the House. The original bill, Arizona Senate Bill SB 1045, would prevent anyone from using a bathroom that did not match the gender listed on their birth certificate. Doing so would result in a class one misdemeanor with penalties of up to six months in jail and a $2500 fine. Instead, this new bill allows business owners the ability to make their own rules for private bathrooms and locker rooms.
As I said, many of us know harassment on a one-on-one level. But it is policies like this that already create an unsafe space to begin with. For many, like me, restrooms can be a scary encounter. If a transgender individual is read as being somewhere they don’t belong, we can expect verbal harassment which may lead to something worse. By having a law that already says we are not allowed here, we are giving the green light for others including law enforcement to harass us for something as simple as having to use the restroom. It was through great advocacy that this bill was reduced from its original intensity. However, how can someone comfortably eat at a restaurant, or shop in a store, knowing the moment they walk in a restroom it only takes one person to call them out. And not only that, the person who did so is just following the law.