In this second of this two part investigative article, Walter Beck looks at the opposition to the Arizona bill that would make it illegal to use a toilet not assigned to the same sex that is on your birth certificate.
In addition to the rallies and recall efforts, numerous letters have also been written against this amendment. The following is from Phoenix Berliner.
I am writing to urge you to oppose SB1045. Many of my reasons are the same ones I elaborated on when writing to you last week, about SB1432. SB1045 is simply the latest attempt at legalizing the same discrimination, which we fought to be protected from at the Non-Discrimination Ordinance changes made in the Orpheum Theatre last month. Gender Identity is something which we all have, whether we are transgender or not. It is the way we present ourselves. It is our clothing, our hairstyles and our mannerisms. What this bill is proposing would allow discrimination to occur, based purely on how other people perceive us to be. There is no evidence of transgender people causing problems in bathrooms. In fact, there is evidence of transgender people being harassed and attacked in bathrooms, of my loved ones having to lock themselves in stalls for their own safety, until help arrives. This bill creates more problems than it solves. The transgender community already has a 41% rate of suicide and one of us is killed every 36 hours. There are approximately 15,000 of us in Phoenix. Please do not add to the bloodshed and inequality this already marginalized community faces by passing this Bill. This is America and this is Arizona. We just want the right to live our own lives and make our own way, without the interference of others. This Bill goes against the basic standards of constitutionality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Chalkivism Opposing SB 1045 – © Sean-Michael Gettys
Stepping away from the legal ramifications of this amendment, how does it affect people personally, particularly in the Trans community? Christopher Diamant from Phoenix, expressed it this way,
“I’m still trying to come to terms with the whole thing. One day you’re living your life as usual, then suddenly you find that you could be a criminal for using the restroom. First came the fear, because I’m at an in-between stage depending on the day someone may call me ma’am or sir, and my birth certificate has no gender on it. I feared no matter which restroom I used I would be arrested. It was terrifying and depressing. Depressing because once again you are reminded you are not ‘normal’ to the world, and people hate you.
I always tell myself not to read the comments at Yahoo whenever I read an LGBT article especially a Trans article. You really feel like America hates you and would gladly see you dead.
I had a day where I considered de-transitioning because I became depressed by the sense that you are hated, the world thinks you are either a pervert, crazy, or pretending. It wears one down.
Then I got mad and began fighting the bill and joined in with people I normally wouldn’t associate with (coming from different points of views about the community and such) because inter community strife needed to be put aside and we needed to band together. I’m still waiting to see a bigger show of force sadly. But what we have done, the people who are working, that has to be commended.
Both Erica Keppler and Abby Jensen’s presence is really what’s got me to come out from behind my desk and get to work. They have done so much for the whole of the Trans community, not just locally, but the US and beyond.”
Opposition to SB 1045 – © Sean-Michael Gettys
Christopher’s brother Aubrey had this to say:
“It was like my world caved in all over again, just like when we lost our family over coming out, now we had a whole state turning against us. I was deeply hurt because I do love Arizona and I see Arizona’s good side, the amazing LGBTQ community and to see that they almost allowed someone to criminalize us like it’s the 1950s again was unreal. I feel like in a whole this is a symptom of a sick and dying nation that is regressing instead of progressing. We’re a nation so terrified of upsetting an ancient Deity that we use it as an excuse to continue to spread hate, lies and laws against people’s basic civil rights and remove dignity. We’re moving backwards while most countries are moving forward and laughing at how backwards this country still is. What I saw was the government saying, ‘You have no right to privacy, you have no right to dignity, you have no right to personal liberty and you’re lucky we threw out making you a criminal you worthless human being.’ Not only are Trans people and gender non-conformists being treated subhuman but still murdered or driven to suicide more than any other community in the US; 46 percent is the suicide rate, considered I believe the rest of the nation is 1-10 %! Also our odds of being murdered are much higher as well. Fear, religion, racism, trans/homophobia are eating this nation alive, and it seems to be getting worse every day. When my friends in Europe hear this stuff they say ‘Wouldn’t happen here!’ and yet Americans are told to distrust and hate Europe regardless of the fact they are much stronger when it comes to protecting human rights. It’s only those who are afraid and ignorant who still preach discrimination as a religious right.”
AllOut Petition Opposing SB 1045 – © Antonia D’orsay
Tucson organizer C. Michael Woodward offered this perspective:
“One of the things that disturbs me most about this whole situation is how easily the Arizona code can be manipulated by game-playing politicians with personal grudges and biases. They make rules just to break them. They ignore legal processes and legal concerns. They just do what they want and let the cards fall where they may. There are some really amazing and wonderful folks in our legislature, too. Sadly, there are two few of them to win on very many issues without help from the moderates. They talk about smaller, less intrusive government in one breath and then go after our bathrooms in the next. It’s embarrassing to those of us who have to defend living here to our out-of-state friends and family. It’s harmful to business and to our very important tourism industry. It’s unconstitutional but they don’t seem to care about such trivial problems as that. Kavanagh says it’s not about civil rights. He thinks it’s about ‘civility’. He said that we grossly underestimate how society feels about this. I say, HE grossly underestimates how society feels about this. Anyone who knows anyone who is Trans knows this. His ‘society’ is dinosauric, ancient history. As someone pointed out during the hearing, if you replace the term ‘transgender people’ with ‘colored people’ it is so easy to see the real problem; folks are drawing parallels to the Jim Crow days, apparently a few people still stuck there. Thankfully, most of us have moved on.
We’re responding to the lemons with lemonade. Our ‘safe to pee’ business campaign will make Arizona a much better place in the long run. Any chance to educate the world about our lives is a good thing because the more they understand us, the less they fear us.
I do appreciate how this is bringing together our community with a united front. I’ve been community building in Arizona since 2002 and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Trans Contingent, Phoenix Pride – © Sherri Shimansky
The amendment still remains up in the air, my best sources have said that it has passed the House Appropriations Committee and will soon go up for a full vote. I hope the amendment goes down in flames and our brothers and sisters in Arizona will not only be free to pee without harassment, but will be able to be full-class citizens in their own state.
I’ll give Mr. Gettys the last word on why this fight is essential;
“All I want is the chance to live simply; to pursue health, happiness, and a life of love; to volunteer in my community safely; to create art and possibly make a living doing so. To work in my garden or help neighbors with theirs; to go to a doctor when I’m sick and not have to wonder if this one will treat me or deny treatment simply because I’m a man with transgender experience; to knit hats for those living on the streets without fear of harassment or reprisal; to fly without being asked to strip because someone didn’t understand what they saw on the x-ray machine; to use the local gym without fear, and run into the local coffee shop and use the restroom; to be able to wash my hands when I eat out without having to have someone watch the door, and to not have my wife have to think of ways to distract police with friendly conversation so they won’t enter the restroom when I’m feeling most vulnerable and scare the bleep outta me. I just want to live my life simply and without fear.
That’s what it comes down to.”
If you would like to join the fight against SB 1045 you can go to: paperstopee.org for more information or click here to join the Facebook Group ID 2 Pee Gets A No From Me and mark your tweets with the hashtag #NoLoo4U when using Twitter.