Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Sunny Bjerk , March 21, 2013
Photo from unfinishedlivesblog.com
In late February, Phoenix, AZ joined the list of over 160 cities and counties with non-discrimination protections for gender expression and identity. The bill was passed with heavy support from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, and will ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming people have equal access and opportunities in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
However, it appears that there are a few in Phoenix who are determined to claw away at the city’s progressive glow.
Indeed, news broke yesterday that AZ Representative John Kavanagh (Republican, District 8-Fountain Hills) is spearheading a bill that would police bathroom use based on a person’s birth certificate. In particular, under SB 1432, a person would be guilty of disorderly conduct if they used a bathroom or dressing room for a gender that didn’t correspond to the birth sex listed on the person’s birth certificate. The punishment would be a Class 1 misdemeanor, which could result in a $2,500 fine and up to 6 months in jail.
Yesterday, Kavanagh touted his pet bill by stating, “The city of Phoenix has crafted a bill that allows people to define their sex by what they think in their head. It also raises the specter of people who want to go into those opposite sex facilities not because they’re transgendered, (but) because maybe that they’re just weird.” (You can watch his interview with 12 News here).
Kavanagh’s statement perfectly captures how transphobia taints people’s inability to see gender expression protections as a question of equality, and also explains their perverse obsession with what happens behind closed bathroom stall doors.
Thankfully however, many are calling out Kavanagh and his irrational bathroom panic. Phoenix Councilman Tom Simplot who was instrumental in passing the city’s non-discrimination policy, noted that the bill would criminalize the “very nature” of what it means to be transgender. What’s more, many law enforcement officials, such as the Rochester Chief of Police James Sheppard and Albany Chief of Police Steven Krokoff, have testified that gender expression protections do not increased bathroom assaults, or crime, for that matter.
Arizona news reports that SB 1432 has an emergency clause, which would mean it would go immediately into effect once signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
But together we can stop this ludicrous and transphobic bill.
Call Rep. John Kavanagh at (602) 926-5170 and tell him that we need equal rights, not fear-mongering. You can also email him at email@example.com and say, “Transgender Americans already face staggering rates of discrimination, and SB 1432 paints the ridiculous notion that transgender people are criminals. As a legislator, you have the obligation to protect all people, not put them in harm’s way. Don’t make us show papers to pee.”
You can also write to John Kavanagh at:
House of Representatives
1700 W. Washington, Room 307
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone Number: (602) 926-5170
Fax Number: (602) 417-3108
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