Metro Weekly

Alabama city will jail trans people for using a public restroom

Fines and jail time will be imposed if a trans person is caught trying to go to the toilet

Gender neutral toilet sign at department of sociology, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo credit: Flinga, via Wikimedia Commons.)
Gender neutral toilet sign at department of sociology, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo credit: Flinga, via Wikimedia Commons.)

A city in Alabama has unanimously passed an ordinance that makes it illegal for trans people to use a public restroom that doesn’t match their birth gender. The Oxford city council has imposed penalties of either a $500 fine or six months in jail.

The ordinance is a direct response to Target’s assertion earlier this month that its trans customers are free to use the restroom of their choosing. Council President Steven Waits said that the council approved the law “not out of concerns for the 0.3 percent of the population who identify as transgender,” but “to protect our women and children.”

Gawker ran the math on Waits’ statement, and determined that the council’s ordinance applies to about 64 people in the city. Sixty-four people who just want to use a restroom and then carry on with their day, without the fear of being sent to prison.

What’s more, there’s the issue of how any transgender person would be caught in the act, as it were. North Carolina’s police force were unsure how they would enforce a similar, statewide law passed earlier this year, with one department telling Mother Jones they were still “digesting the law.” Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge was more assertive to, saying the law would be enforced like any other ordinance, such as a noise violation.

“If somebody sees something that makes them uncomfortable, they would call the police,” he said. “If the person is still there when the officer arrives, the officer has to witness the crime. Then we take down the person’s information, and the person who reported it has to sign out a warrant.”

In a report last year, Mic examined how many times trans people had attacked women and children in restrooms.

“There are zero reported cases of this happening…. Spokespeople from the Transgender Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union told Mic that no statistical evidence of violence exists to warrant this legislation.”

It was something The Advocate also reported on when Texas was mulling similar anti-trans legislation:

“There has never been a verifiable reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person, nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them.”

It begs the question: if Oxford’s ordinance was crafted to “protect…women and children,” who exactly is it protecting them from?


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