HRC Blog

Tennessee’s Transphobic Bathroom Bill Loses Senate Support

Post submitted by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications

Tennessee State Senator Bo Watson withdrew the Senate version of a transphobic bathroom bill following a shockingly anti-trans rant from the bill’s House author, Rep. Richard Floyd. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Watson said: “I understand Rep. Floyd’s passion about the issue, but we have more pressing issues before us that we need to focus our attention on and we don’t need to get sidetracked.”

HB 2279 “restricts access to public restrooms and public dressing rooms designated by sex to members of that particular sex.” Rep. Floyd explained his motivation for the anti-trans legislation by saying: “Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk…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 him take them into the men’s bathroom or dressing room.”

While Rep. Floyd’s statements make the bill appear to restrict access to dressing rooms and restrooms which would be considered public accommodations, such as at restaurants and department stores, in actuality as written the bill would restrict access to bathrooms owned or leased by the state and its subdivisions. This is equally terrible - as it would restrict bathroom use in places like libraries and public parks.

As shocking as this discriminatory legislation is, it’s not uncommon given what we’ve seen come out of the Tennessee General Assembly the past two years. It’s a legislative body that recently stripped all local jurisdictions of their right to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans in nondiscrimination ordinances. It’s a body that’s once again pushing a controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and is preparing to introduce a “License to Bully” bill that would bar schools from including sexual orientation and gender identity in protections, but permit students to be actively anti-gay if it’s in line with their religious beliefs.

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