Abby Jensen

Guest post by Abby Jensen

At 2 p.m. today, the Appropriations Committee of the Arizona House will hold a hearing on a “strike everything” amendment to SB1432, the latest iteration of Arizona’s “papers, please” legislation. As you probably know, Arizona is the home of SB1070, the infamous “paper, please” law that requires police to demand that anyone, who they suspect is not in the country legally, prove their right to be here. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts have thrown out most of that law, but the Supreme Court said the “papers, please” provision can remain in force, at least for now.

Instead of our country’s immigrant community, SB1432 has a new target – transgender people and anyone else that police, business owners or other restroom users think isn’t “man” or “woman” enough to be in a restroom or other sex-segregated facility designated for that sex or gender. Specifically, if enacted, SB1432 would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor, subject to up to 6 months in jail and a $2,500 fine, to use a restroom designated for one sex when “the person is not legally classified on the person’s birth certificate as a member of that sex.”

(Additional Reading: Connections Between Immigration & Transgender Rights)

How would such a law be enforced? By every overzealous restroom patron, security guard, business owner or mere passerby who decides that someone they see entering a restroom doesn’t conform to their notions of how a “man” or “woman” should look and complains to police. In other words, trans men, women and children, butch lesbians, feminine gay men, and straight, cisgender people who violate societal gender norms in some way can be harassed to prove their right to do what every other citizen takes as a given – the right to use a restroom for its intended purpose without harassment.

For me, one of the most troubling aspects of SB1432 is the idea that there will no longer be an assumption that everyone is entitled to the same rights. Instead, those of us who are “different” will now be required to prove our right to pee in peace, simply because the way we look, or act, or talk makes someone else uncomfortable. First, Arizona targeted people who look different in terms of race or ethnicity. Now, trans people and anyone else who violates gender norms are in the “bull’s-eye” of the Arizona Legislature. Who will be next?

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Abigail (Abby) Jensen is a trans woman, attorney for more than 30 years, and a general rabble-rouser on trans and LGB rights, feminism and any other threat to everyone’s right to be who they truly are. She lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can find her on FacebookTwitter (@Arizona_Abby) or her personal blog.

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