South Dakota Just Shamed Itself by Being the First State to Pass an Anti-Transgender Student Bathroom Bill
— ACLU South Dakota (@ACLUSD) February 16, 2016
South Dakota should be ashamed of itself today. Well, 20 members of the South Dakota State Senate should be ashamed of themselves, because HB 1008 just passed by a vote of 20 – 15, and now South Dakota has the distinct dishonor of being the first state in the U.S. to pass a bill officially barring transgender people, intersex people, and even people with atypical chromosomal arrangements from using the bathroom that accords with the gender they say they are. This law is ridiculous for a host of reasons, just one of which is that I have no idea how they intend to police it. Will they require genetic testing for any kid who needs to pee at school, or will showing one’s adolescent genitals to an official bathroom monitor be sufficient? Evidently we wouldn’t just want to take a person at their word when they identify themselves.
According to Jezebel, the bill reads:
Every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school that is designated for student use and is accessible by multiple students at the same time shall be designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex… The term, biological sex, as used in this Act, means the physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth.
Proponents of the bill are taking their, “Think of the children!” rhetoric in a particularly cruel direction.
“Do you feel it appropriate for a 13-year-old girl to be exposed to the anatomy of a boy?” said Sen. Brock Greenfield (R) to Buzzfeed, and he seems to have no idea what a women’s restroom looks like. There are private stalls in ladies’ rooms, and we shouldn’t be peeping on our classmates in the restroom anyway. It’s not fair to ban trans kids from the restrooms that match their gender just because of alarmist hypotheticals being dreamed up by some paranoid old men.
Speaking of old men, this bill would mean that burly, balding, mustachioed old trans men would have to use restrooms with the aforementioned teen girls. I suspect some of the state senators who passed this bill would take umbrage at that idea, which makes it seem like this bill is based heavily on the desire to police “passing” and gender performance. For all the joking, nobody is really going to be running DNA checks or eyeballing genitals as people go in and out of the restroom, which means that the enforcement of this law would have to come down to an assessment of a person’s perceived performance of masculinity or femininity. That is appalling, and it is not anybody’s business. Let the kids pee and butt the heck out.
There is some small hope that the bill will not actually become law, because South Dakota governor Daugaard will have to sign the bill for that to happen. There’s reason for concern, however, because Daugaard reportedly says he has never met a transgender person and thinks that doing so would jeopardize his “objectivity,” in large part because he seems to be conflating “objectivity” and “complete lack of information about what he’s passing laws about.”
This bill is cruel and petty and seems like a ridiculous waste of time on the part of lawmakers. Rather than get something important done, why don’t we make life more difficult for some transgender teenagers? God knows they don’t have it hard enough without shit like this to pile on them. How many children in South Dakota are currently going without food, anyway? It just seems that the super religious among the members of the State Senate are not doing a very good job of listening to their “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelets. I had 6 years of Catholic school, and I remember Jesus talking a whole lot about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, but I do not remember a single instance of him saying that we should be checking people’s pants before allowing them to use the restroom.