North Carolina’s bathroom bill reignites Arizona’s anti-trans legislative history

Arizona’s former proposed laws and policies regarding the LGBT community have been brought to light recently following the controversial passing of an ‘anti-trans’ bill from North Carolina.

Dubbed the “bathroom bill,” North Carolina’s newest law requires bathrooms in places like schools and public agencies to acquire a single-sex requirement. According to the bill’s text, boards of education in the state must require students to use only the bathroom that corresponds to their biological sex. The bill defines the term ‘biological sex’ as the physical condition of being male or female, as stated on a person’s birth certificate.

The bill states these requirements for bathrooms and changing facilities in public agencies, such as schools, offices, and government branches. The legislative document does also provide exceptions to these sex-specific circumstances, including for maintenance or custodial purposes or in times when medical assistance is needed within a facility.

Controversy surrounding this bill has risen regarding those individuals who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming and whose gender identity may differ than the sex that is listed on the individual’s birth certificate. The bill, HB2, is similar to a previously proposed Arizona legislature bill in 2013, SB1045, that mirrored the limitations to bathroom and public facility usage.

According to the Transgender Law Center, Arizona Representative John Kavanagh attempted to introduce a bill into the state senate that would “permit business owners to restrict access to gender-specific facilities based on a person’s gender identity or gender expression.”

The organization, whose mission is to change laws and policies to protect discrimination against gender identity or expression, also said that Kavanagh had attempted to introduce a bill that would have required transgender individuals to provide proof of a birth certificate that matched the gender of the restroom they were using. Those who could not show proof or whose gender did not match, would allegedly face arrest.

Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, said during a debate that Kavanagh’s bill fails to recognize the reality of what transgender individuals face, noting,

“I suspect he has not had many transgender people in his life, or I think he would realize that the current bill is really out of step with the reality of how transgender people live,” Davis said. “…somebody like me could potentially be in prison for up to six months for using the men’s room.”

Though Kavanagh’s bill never made it through the Arizona Senate, North Carolina’s comparable bill sparked concern throughout the country’s LGBT community.

Donna Ellis from the Phoenix chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), said that the organization is deeply involved in the issue, both locally and nationally.

“Our trans members and non-members are so important to us that we will stand in solidarity with them to the end, as we have so far,” Ellis said. “We are a peer support group, standing for education, support and advocacy.”