A new piece of legislature targeting transgender students has come to light: SB1619 from Oklahoma. While involving religion like similar bills in other states, what sets 1619 apart is the ridiculous way in which religion is applied. The language of 1619 opens with the defining of a person's sex. As the legislators sponsoring this bill see it, sex is defined as the physical condition of being male or female based upon a person's anatomy at birth. No sponsor on any anti-transgender bill so far has considered the various ways in which a person may not appear traditionally male or female at birth; intersex individuals have existed since the dawn of humanity, and the genetics of genitalia mean a person's privates can look more like those opposite the gender they're assigned at birth. Other bills try to define sex or gender by chromosomes, ignorant of the many people born without the common XX or XY set.
But a person's assigned sex is what some Oklahoma legislators consider to be the only sex a person shall ever have. They go on to state that students may request a religious accommodation if a school allows students to use restrooms and changing facilities which differ from a student's assigned sex. Accommodations in this context are outlined as facilities designatedsolely for a specific sex. In other words, if a female student attends a school that allows transgender females to use female restrooms, the student may request a female-only restroom to accommodate her religious beliefs. Strangely, the bill specifically disallows single-occupancy facilities to be used as accommodations for these religious beliefs.Should a school fail to provide this accommodation, the student and/or their guardians are given the right to pursue a lawsuit against the school district. And if a federal mandate requires schools to allow transgender students the use of facilities matching their gender, the attorney general is authorized to represent any school district who challenges said mandate. It should be clear that this last bit is retaliation for President Obama's instruction to schools to enact exactly this policy.
The most incredible element of this bill, however, is the declaration that transgender students using bathrooms has caused a public health emergency.
The second most incredible element? One of the co-sponsors is Sally Kern, who felt no shame stating aloud to her fellow legislators that black people only go to prison because they don't care about school.
If you're reading this in Oklahoma, please make sure you get to the polls during the next election or get out of the state as soon as possible.
And if you'd like to read more about similar bills in other states--as well as why the anti-trans panic is both unfounded and unsupported by domestic violence and sexual assault groups--please read our previous piece on the matter.
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