Monday, March 27, 2017

GOP Bills in Arkansas Would Make It "Illegal to be Transgender"

With all the serious and pressing issues facing states and the nation, one would think that Republicans would have more important things to do than continue their anti-transgender jihad.  But that assumption would be wrong in many states - including Virginia, home of Side Show Bob Marshall - but especially so in Arkansas where pending GOP bills would make being transgender more or less illegal and set individuals up for fines and jail time.  Can't you just feel the "Christian love" behind these bills introduced to pander to Christofascists?  A piece in Salon looks at the anti-transgender animus at work.  Here are excerpts:
The clock is ticking on a trio of bills that LGBT advocates in Arkansas claim would make it effectively “illegal to be transgender” in the state.
Republicans have until March 31, which marks the end of the 2017 legislative session, to pass House Bill 1986, Senate Bill 774 and House Bill 1894 before these proposals are tabled for the year. SB 774, known as the Arkansas Physical Privacy and Safety Act, is similar to North Carolina’s controversial HB 2. It forces trans people in the state to use public restrooms that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificate when entering government buildings and other entities owned by the state. That legislation is currently awaiting a vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
That bill has been opposed by the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, which has warned that legalizing discrimination could trigger massive economic backlash in the state. After passing HB 2 exactly a year ago, North Carolina has lost an estimated $600 million in revenue . . .
The bathroom bill, though, is just the tip of the iceberg. Further legislation being pushed by conservative lawmakers threatens to target trans individuals by making it extraordinarily difficult to be in public at all.
Often referred to as the “bathroom bill lite,” HB 1986 actually goes further than the Physical Privacy and Safety Act by allowing individuals to bring charges against trans people for “indecent exposure.” Such actions are already a crime under Arkansas law, but HB 1986 would expand existing law on the subject. The bill defines indecent exposure as an instance in which an individual “knowingly exposes his or her sex organs to a person of the opposite biological sex: (A) In a public place or in public view; or (B) Under circumstances in which the person could reasonably believe the conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm.”
“If a transgender man has top surgery, his chest could be viewed as a sexual organ, according to the the language used on the bill. Anywhere his chest is in public view — like at a public pool or going to a spa — he could be in violation of the law and be arrested.”
Under HB 1986, trans people could face a hefty fine, as well as jail time, if another individual feels that the alleged assailant has exposed themselves in a way that would cause “affront or alarm.” If convicted of indecent exposure, transgender folks in the state would be subjected to a $2,500 penalty, in addition to a maximum sentence of a year in prison.
A third anti-trans bill has been reintroduced after being voted down by the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare, and Labor earlier this month. HB 1894 would bar transgender people from amending their birth certificates to match their gender identity. “If I decided I don’t want to be white, well, do I get to pick my race?” asked Representative Mickey Gates, who authored the legislation, . . .
Should this bill become the law of the land, it would be next to impossible for any trans person in Arkansas to escape the aforementioned cycle of legal harassment and criminalization. Gwen Fry, president of the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition, argued that these bills are an attempt to “legislate the trans community out of existence.”

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