The whole “you have to use the bathroom of the gender assigned to you at birth” bill is bad enough. I mean, it’s bad enough that you might want to take a moment to just be shocked by that before we move onto the next part.
The worst part is that one of the sponsors of the bill says this:
“I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry,” Floyd said.
“We cannot continue to let these people dominate how society acts and reacts. Now if somebody thinks he’s a woman and he’s a man and wants to try on women’s clothes, let them him take them into the men’s bathroom or dressing room. Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk. I’m just sick and tired the way this thing’s been going.”
Let us not downplay this. We all think the bathroom bill goes way too far (and by “way too far” I mean, “that it exists at all is disgusting.”) He wants to be able to beat a person to death because he doesn’t like how she looks. “Wants to” is probably too weak. He says he will beat a person to death. Let’s take Floyd at his word.
Let us also be clear that this bill is a threat to everyone who doesn’t conform to gender expectations–not just transgender people. Floyd could beat a butch lesbian to death and then, oops, find out that she has two XX chromosomes. So, even if you don’t know, or think you don’t know, transgender people, you certainly know long-haired guys or gals who don’t wear make-up who could be hassled by this legislation.
Since transgender people and gender non-conforming people are in actual physical danger–not just from this bill, but from Representative Floyd and others like him–it’s very necessary for those of us who are not in obvious physical danger to use our social capital to resist this bill (and law, if it comes to that).
What can you do?
You can write our state legislators. Their emails can all be found here. While it’s true that the majority of our legislature is unlikely to be moved by the plight of transgender people, you can point out that the bill would prohibit fathers from bringing their toddler daughters into the bathroom with them and would be a burden on men with prostate issues, if the only open bathroom was the women’s. Yes, in other words, appeal to the problems this bill would cause cis-gender men.
You can make sure that you go to the bathroom in groups. For women, this won’t be that hard to learn. We already do this a lot. But most people are cowards at heart, so they are much less likely to make trouble for a woman that doesn’t quite “look right” when she’s with a group of her friends, some of whom may be that uncomfortable woman’s co-workers and friends. For women, this just means a switch from “we go to the bathroom in groups a lot” to “we go to the bathroom in groups.”
For men, this may take a little more getting used to, but it’s still an important social change you can make right now. Use the buddy system. You know that even two guys are much less likely to get jumped than one.
Same thing for dressing rooms. Go in groups.
If you are obviously a stereotypical straight cis-gender person, normalize the use of the opposite sex bathroom. If you’re someplace where there are two one-seaters and the one that matches your gender is full, use the empty one. Don’t hesitate to take your small children into the bathroom with you. Or into the dressing room with you. Make your non-compliance obvious and do it in such a way that narcing on you makes that person an asshole.
They’re picking on transgender people because they believe transgender people are a small minority most people in this state don’t care about. In order to drum up resistance to this bill, we’re going to have to make the case that everyone is impacted negatively by it.
Then there is the matter of taking Representative Floyd at his word–that he really would try to kill you if he thought you looked “wrong” for where you were.
I obviously don’t have the answer for this. He knows he can say stuff like this and nothing will happen because you don’t have enough cultural capital to make something happen. He’s probably pretty sure he could do something like this and get away with it and, frankly, he’s probably right.
That’s just the truth of the matter.
But here’s the thing I just want you to consider. We live in a state with some of the most lenient gun laws in the nation. You can carry just about anywhere. And a gun is a shit-ton of cultural capital.
I know some of you are not comfortable with idea. And I hesitate to even broach the subject.
But this is past dangerous. This is now an elected official threatening violence against people.
So, I’ll just put this out there: If you think you might feel safer going to the bathroom if you had a gun, we have good resources right here in Tennessee available to you. Say Uncle is a libertarian gun nut who runs an incredibly informative blog. And while I can’t guarantee you’ll agree with his politics, I can guarantee that he will find you any gun resources you might need. He may not know what gun would fit best in a small clutch, but he’ll be able to tell you who can answer that.
There are plenty of people in Tennessee who would be happy to go with you to a shooting range. I’m just saying, at the least, you could try it out, see how it feels.
It’s not against the law to defend yourself. If you think your self may need defending, please consider all of your options.
Edited to add: Now that Representative Floyd has revealed his desire to try to kill transgender people, Senator Watson has withdrawn his version of the bill. Countdown to Senator Campfield introducing another Senate version starts… now.