Is There Evidence Supporting Texas’ ‘Bathroom Bill’ As A Public Safety Measure?

From Kera:

Apr 10, 2017

One of the most heated debates in Austin this legislative session is over Senate Bill 6. Introduced as the Privacy Protection Act, the “bathroom bill” would bar people from using restrooms or locker rooms in schools and other government buildings that don’t match the gender on their birth certificates.

It would also would nullify local protections passed in order to give transgender people the right to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Opponents say it’s discriminatory, but a key argument in favor of the bill is that it is a public safety measure, though the data to support that argument is largely anecdotal. Opponents raise their own anecdotal evidence, and one researcher is collecting data to add clarity and rigor to the debate.

Linking public safety and transgender Texans

Earlier this legislative session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the bill is about public safety, though he clarified that he didn’t think public safety was directly threatened by transgender people. While sexual assault and other crimes that might occur in bathrooms remain illegal, Patrick says that transgender protections can make it too confusing to enforce the laws.

“It’s about preventing a free pass to sexual predators, who are not transgender, to be able to walk into any bathroom with any child or any woman at any time,” Patrick said.

This got one listener wondering: Is there any evidence to back up the claim that SB6 would keep Texans safe? Taken a step further, the question gets at whether expanding rights for transgender people undermines safety or leads to greater incidents of crimes in bathrooms.

Back when the Senate Committee on State Affairs held a hearing on Senate Bill 6 about a month ago, hundreds of people packed in into the committee chamber and an overflow room in the heart of the Texas Capitol. Testimony lasted for 20 hours, proponents and opponents raised a host of issues and concerns. But the first to bring up public safety was the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham).

“There’s been a number of incidences just here in Austin, recently. Just a few days ago at the Salvation Army store, a man was recording a woman changing in a dressing room,” she said.

Kolkhorst talked about that incident and more that were worse, all where women and girls have been harmed or spied on in bathrooms. She said it’s the consequence of giving people the right to use the bathroom based on their gender identity as opposed to the sex on their birth certificate.

“While many have made this about a transgender bill, it’s more about someone who will use this bill as an excuse to go into the most intimate places we find ourselves in,” she said at the hearing.

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Charlotte transgender activist tells national magazine HB2 bargain made things worse

From The Charlotte Observer:

Charlotte transgender activist Lara Americo says in the April 9 issue of the progressive magazine Mother Jones that life in North Carolina has never been “more frightening’ than in the wake of a compromise crafted to take House Bill 2 off the books.

That compromise re-set bathroom access for transgender people back to pre-HB2 standards, and also included a moratorium preventing local governments from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances through at least 2020.

Maxine Eichner, who teaches family law at UNC School of Law, said the new law makes it unclear on which bathrooms transgender people should use.

“I think transgender people are in even more danger now,” Americo told Mother Jones. “When you don’t allow cities to give people protections, you put people in danger. Our state government made it clear that they put profit and sports ahead of our safety, and that mentality trickles down. We still don’t have the protections we need. All we have is a spotlight on us, so that people who don’t like us can target us. I feel less safe now than I did a few weeks ago, and so do a lot of people.”

Americo says she works with Trans Lifeline, a suicide hotline, and she tells Mother Jones that there has been a spike in callers since the compromise was passed last month. The LGBT community opposed the compromise, which was engineered in part to keep sports tournaments and other large scale events from continuing to boycott the state over HB2’s anti-LGBT guidelines.

Among the fears of LGBT people is a possibility that a Republican led N.C. General Assembly will pass more laws “criminalizing” transgender people in other ways. An example of this, Americo says, is House Bill 562, introduced April 4 to strengthen the penalties for trespassing in such places as a “multi-occupancy bathroom, shower, or changing facility.” It’s a law that could be used to target transgender people, she told Mother Jones.

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Anti-gay pastor who cheered Orlando nightclub massacre found guilty of child molestation

From Raw Story:

11 Apr 2017

An anti-gay pastor who said people massacred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando “got what they deserved” last year has been convicted on eight charges related to child molestation.

The Florida Times Union reports that a jury this week found 57-year-old pastor Kenneth Adkins guilty of child molestation due to a relationship he had with an underage boy and an underage girl who attended his church seven years ago.

In the case, prosecutors claimed that Adkins had methodically groomed two teenagers to have sexual intercourse with him when they were just 15 years old. The pastor’s male accuser said he wanted to come forward so that the pastor would never again be able to similarly take advantage of young teenagers.

The jury came back with a guilty verdict against Adkins after only one hour of deliberation. He is due to be sentenced on April 25th.

Adkins drew national condemnation last year when he sent out a message on social media attacking the victims of Omar Mateen’s shooting rampage at the Pulse nightclub.

“I don’t see none of them as victims,” Adkins tweeted. “I see them as getting what they deserve!!”

Less than two months later, Adkins was arrested by authorities on charges that he molested two parishioners.

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Transgender Denton boy gets new birth certificate

From KHOU:

Bradley Blackburn and WFAA
April 07, 2017

DENTON, Texas — Max Briggle lives his life just like any other 9-year-old boy, and now it says so in writing on his birth certificate.

“He’s always going to be transgender, but having that piece of paper, my hope is that it’s going to make it a little easier for him,” said Amber Briggle, Max’s mom.

Max was born Mary Grace. WFAA has covered his story in the past, including when his family invited Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to their home for dinner.  They have become outspoken advocates for transgender kids.

Now, all of Max’s documents reflect his identity, with his new name and gender identity.  The Briggles said they have successfully changed his legal name, as well as his Social Security card and birth certificate.

“I feel like this is another milestone,” said Amber Briggle.

She believes this amended documentation is essential for her son in a time when there’s an active debate on transgender rights. Proposed bathroom bills like SB6 would mandate that people use the bathroom that matches the sex on their birth certificate.

“As long as we’re going to pass laws saying which facilities you can and can’t use, it’s awfully nice to have a document saying he can use it,” said Briggle.  “At the same time, I just feel like it’s so unnecessary. Why do I have to change my son’s birth cerrtificate so he can be treated like the boy that he is?”

Changing Max’s name required a court order. His birth certificate is an unusual case. He has what is called a Consular Report of Birth Abroad isssued by the U.S. State Department because he was born in The Netherlands.  The document functions as a birth certificate for all official purposes, the State Department said, and changing it required a letter from physician meeting specific requirements. Max’s CRBA now states his sex as male.

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Bigoted Christians Are the Most Special Snowflakes

From The Advocate:

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