The city council of Oxford, Alabama unanimously passed a public ordinance last night making it illegal to use a public restroom bearing a gender-specific label that doesn’t match that of a person’s birth certificate. The proposed fine for such an infraction is $500 or six months of jail time. Of course, that’s if they catch you.
Whereas North Carolina cops admitted earlier this month that they had no idea how they were going to enforce Governor Pat McCrory’s similarly draconian H2 bill, Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge seems to have some grasp on how enforcing the new law will play out. To AL.com, Partridge said:
If somebody sees something that makes them uncomfortable, they would call the police. If the person is still there when the officer arrives, the officer has to witness the crime. Then we take down the person’s information, and the person who reported it has to sign out a warrant.
So while in principle, this law is demeaning to people who already face societal degradation simply for existing, in practice, it should be easy enough to break if you just get in and get out. Yes, you should be able to take your sweet time in a bathroom. Yes, the existence of this law is abhorrent and needless. But as trans people know well by now, there are ways of working around ignorance.
By the way, if the national average holds in Oxford, it means that this law targets a measly 64 people who identify as trans among the city’s 21,348 residents (that figure comes from the 2010 Census). That should put some perspective into how useless this effort actually is. What a waste of fucking time just to make a few dozen people feel worse about living in Alabama.
The Oxford Council President Steven Waits said in a statement that the ordinance is a response to the policy Target announced last week that trans people could use whatever bathrooms they saw fit. Waits also said the law was sought “not out of concerns for the 0.3 percent of the population who identify as transgender,” but “to protect our women and children.” Given the utter lack of documented attacks from trans people in bathrooms, what women and children are being protected from effectively is the exposure to people who are different than they are. They’re being protected from having the opportunity to experience a world where straw man arguments and fear-mongering legislation can be seen for the bullshit that they are.
In related news, to the New York Times, Pat McCrory used the word “Orwellian” twice to describe the left’s backlash to his bigoted bill. McCrory seems to think that the backlash his bigoted bill has received is a scheme by Democrats and the Human Rights Campaign to prevent him from being reelected as governor. Haha, nope.