Earlier this year, North Carolina repealed the infamous “bathroom bill” that required transgender citizens to use the public restrooms that matched the gender on their birth certificates, rather than their actual gender. The bill faced immense backlash, with the NCAA moving its basketball championships out of North Carolina and the loss of millions of dollars in consumer spending.
Texas, itself notorious for being politically conservative, has, at least for now, apparently learned from North Carolina’s mistakes. Their own bathroom bill, which focused specifically on restricting access to bathrooms and facilities in schools, died in the House after a special thirty-day session to debate the bill.
Advocates in favor of anti-trans bathroom bills often argue that allowing trans people to use the bathroom of their choice would open the door for predators to assault women and children in public bathrooms. Not only is this untrue, but trans people are more likely to be victims themselves.
Laws that prohibit trans people from using the public restrooms of their choice have little to do with preventing sexual assault; they really exist to limit trans people’s ability to be in public. If trans kids cannot use the bathroom at school, trans kids cannot be out at school at best and, at worst, cannot go to school at all.
In response to the news of the bill’s failure, Nathan Smith, Director of Public Policy at GLSEN, said, “GLSEN and our allies are relieved to see anti-trans legislation fail once again in Texas, but this was not an easy fight. And it is far from over. While transgender youth remain at risk and the target of discrimination and bullying, the failure of this bill shows progress is being made and we must continue to educate not only elected officials, but everyone about the lives of transgender people.”
In a time when so much of civil rights—especially LGBT rights, and especially transgender rights—are under fire, Texas’ refusal to submit to bigotry marks a huge step toward equality. It is only one bill in one state, but it proves that even though the federal government is working to strip back pro-LGBT legislation, the states (even Republican strongholds like Texas) have the ability and the responsibility to protect their most vulnerable citizens. The work is not done, but we can push forward with renewed hope for change.