When I was 15, I came out as transgender. That same year, I was kicked out of multiple men’s bathrooms because I didn’t pass as male. Now, I don’t go in any men’s bathroom without a partner to protect me, because I’m afraid of being yelled at or assaulted.
It’s no better when I visit home in Tennessee, a place that isn’t known to be trans-friendly (at home, for example, it is impossible to legally change the gender marker on my birth certificate for any reason at all). There, I’m so afraid to be trans that I dress femininely, use the women’s bathroom, let people misgender and deadname me, despite how much I hate to. I avoid appearing trans at all costs.
Tennessee is one of 12 states that have had so-called “bathroom bills” this year in the legislature. Currently proposed in states that range from Illinois to Kentucky, these bills would force transgender students to use the bathroom or locker room that aligns with their “biological sex” rather than their gender identity.
These bills often advance because of rhetoric that erroneously labels trans people as “predators.” In truth, we are in the bathroom only to use the bathroom, not to hurt anyone. It’s our own safety that’s at risk: the majority of transgender students report avoiding bathrooms at school because of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, according to GLSEN’s most recent National School Climate Survey.
The bill in South Dakota, HB 1008, has advanced the furthest in the country. Today, the bill arrived on the Governor’s desk, and in no more than five days it becomes law unless he vetoes it. If it becomes law, it will exacerbate the danger we feel and set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the country. Please tell Governor Daugaard to veto HB 1008. Send him a tweet here.
Emet Tauber is a student at Purchase College and a former GLSEN Student Ambassador.