7 Reasons Bathroom Laws are Bunk: Policing Gender in Missouri the Solution Without a Problem

By Lauren Wagner Feb. 23, 2017 [8:45 PM CST]State sponsored discrimination has a longstanding history in Missouri, and Senate Bill 98 (SB 98) doesn’t break with that shameful tradition. An 1864 St. Louis ordinance addressed, “offenses against morals and decency” by making it a misdemeanor to appear in public in “a dress not belonging to his or her sex”.  As attitudes on same-sex marriage started changing Missouri passed a preemptive constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. Then in response to DOMA being overturned the Missouri Senate tried to pass a bill purporting to support religious liberty to prevent vendors from providing services for same-sex weddings. That bill became infamous with a 39-hour filibuster citing it as a discriminatory measure.

Now Sen. Ed Emery’s SB 98 changes their focus. It’s not about risking jail for not having 3 or more ‘female garments’ on at a bar this time, nor is this law focused on banning adults from marrying or legalizing discrimination against their unions. This time Missouri lawmakers are targeting youth. Gender non-conforming and trans youth to be specific.

SB 98 requires that students at all the state’s public schools use the restrooms matching the gender on their birth certificates. Emery openly admits that the legislation is meant to deal with the fact that transgender people are living more open lives than in the past.Many Missourians would rather their culture move forward than fight progress. Katie Stuckenschneider, Communications Director for PROMO is among the most vocal of Missouri’s freedom fighters. Commenting on SB 98 Stuckenschneider said,

 There was a testimony hearing yesterday and dozens of transgender kids, parents, and grandparents came in opposition of the bill tugging at the heartstrings of all with tearful testimony.

Every student should have a fair opportunity to participate and succeed in school. Instead of focusing on how to help all students succeed and grow, SB 98 is invasive, provokes fear, and restricts transgender students from fully accessing the opportunities provided to other students at school. Transgender students are part of our school communities, and like other students, they’re there to learn and prepare for their future. They need to be able to use the restroom that matches the gender they live every day without being singled out for harassment.”

The Senate Education Committee hearing this week included heart wrenching testimonies beginning at 1:56 in the video. Check it out after reading my list of  7 Reasons ‘Bathroom Bills’’ are Bunk: 

1. Show me the evidence. Like the states that proposed similar bills before it Missouri’s SB 98 did not provide any evidence that a non-transgender (cisgender) person has ever been attacked by a trans person in public restrooms. Perhaps Missourians might benefit more from their representatives focusing on legislation addressing problems with statistical evidence like the ever-growing deadly opioid epidemic.

2. Basing policy on biology or chromosomes is more complicated than one might think. There are 4 known sex chromosome abnormalities and as Sherri Groveman states in her article in Intersex in the Age of Ethics, if you do the math there are more intersexed people in the world than there are Jewish people. These known human conditions present complications to the bills ” biological sex” requirements. The language in SB98 states,

  1.  ” For the purposes of this section “biological sex” means the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s chromosomes, and is identified at birth by a person’s anatomy and indicated on their birth certificate.”

3. Evidence-based economic factors. Though evidence doesn’t support SB 98 as a protective measure North Carolina provides evidence that bills like these can have far reaching economic effects on a state. A November 2016 Forbes report found that North Carolina’s ‘Bathroom Bill” had already cost the state at least $630 million in business since that March.

4. Be careful what you wish for. Many trans people go about their business in public restrooms without incident every day. If fully bearded trans men are asked to use restrooms for girls and women to be law abiding I argue that it will make the general public much less comfortable than the status quo. When trans people take hormones and have surgeries to change their anatomies, chromosomes and birth certificates become much less important in determining someone’s biological sex.

5. Lives really are at risk. Suicide rates of gender non-conforming and trans youth are staggering. This vulnerable group in Missouri is now being targeted by the adult lawmakers in their state… all in the name of protecting their peers from imagined assaults they could theoretically commit one day.

6. Framing SB98 as a protective measure for women and privacy is a bait and switch in the show me state. If men decide to disguise themselves as a woman to gain access to the restrooms and assault women and girls their actions are already illegal. If they are going in to restrooms to break laws why would they care that being in there is against the law?  It’s like arguing that a bank robber would be dissuaded by an added trespassing charge. This bill isn’t about targeting predators, or registered offenders who have already disregarded the law; it targets law abiding trans Americans who just want to continue going to the restroom in peace as they have been.

7. ***Supports a “stranger danger” profile of sexual predators and robs parents of the informed vigilance they could gain from a factually based risks assessment. An overwhelming amount of research shows that children are most at risk with people they know—people their parents thought they could trust.

CadencePress has requested statistical evidence from state SB 98 sponsor Missouri Senator Ed Emery.His office has not yet responded.

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