Anti-transgender bills demonstrates need for visibility, understanding for transgender people

Lately, we have been seeing several state legislatures proposing bills that unfairly target transgender people. Some of these so-called "bathroom bills" have now proscribed definitions for who is able to use public facilities.

In Texas, State Representative Debbie Riddle introduced two bills which will work in tandem to ban transgender people from using the bathroom the feel comfortable with. The first bill broadens laws regarding disorderly conduct to include incidents when a person "enters a public restroom that is designated by a sign for the members of the opposite sex of the actor." The other bill narrowly defines gender as that which is designated at birth or "established by the individual's chromosomes," which is rarely known to a person. The Texas bill would impose fines and possible jail time for transgender people found in violation.

pposition to the Texas bill has come from many corners, including from Advocates for Informed Choice, an advocacy organization for intersex communities. Many intersex people were born with chromosomes that do not match their external characteristics, making them also targets of the legislation.

"Advocates for Informed Choice strongly opposes this legislative attempt to discriminate against transgender and intersex people as young as 13 years old by making it a crime for them to use a restroom that does not match their gender established at birth, or does not match their chromosomes," said Kimberly Zieselman, Executive Director. "It's simply a medical fact that chromosomes are not determinative of a person's sex or gender."

Additionally, Christian blogger Lianne Simon calls on her fellow Christians to oppose such bills.

Florida, Kentucky, and Texas, are considering–or have passed–bills that would limit who can use sex-specific restrooms. The stated intent is to prevent men from dressing as women and entering a restroom to expose themselves, rape someone, or commit some other crime against a woman or child. The real intent appears to be to prevent transgender people from using a bathroom at all. As a perhaps unintended consequence, the bills would also affect those of us born with an intersex condition and people who aren’t quite as masculine or feminine as most everyone else.

Simon ends her blog by citing 1 John 4:20, "If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."

It seems clear from these bills, and the lack of thought or understanding behind them, that we continue to need real visibility and understanding of transgender people. Over the course of the last year, we've been seeing more from transgender people. From Laverne Cox's acting and activism that includes Orange is the New Black and Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word, to Janet Mock discussing pop culture on MSNBC's So Popular!, to Jazz Jennings getting her own reality show and becoming the spokesperson for Clean & Clear, we are seeing more and more of transgender people's lives. However, that trend needs to continue, especially in states where these bills are being proposed.

One place to begin is the "I AM: Trans People Speak" project, which was a collaboration between GLAAD and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC). These videos have shared the lives of everyday transgender people talking about the joys and challenges they face.

But beyond videos, people in Texas (and other states where such bills are being filed) need to hear from the transgender residents. If you are a transgender person in Texas, let us know by sharing your story.

These bills targeting transgender people are based on fear, but awareness and understanding builds common humanity and drives away fear. Let your voice be known. Share your story and speak out