Following North Carolina's failure to repeal HB2, Texas is gearing up to pass its own law prohibiting trans people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity
The Lieutenant Governor of Texas proposed a bill which would prohibit trans people from using the bathroom or locker room for their gender identity in schools and other public buildings if passed.
Lt Gov Dan Patrick unveiled SB6 earlier this week, following the passage of a sweeping anti-LGBTQ law in North Carolina that, among other measures, prohibited transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity in schools and government buildings. Efforts to overturn it in December failed.
"We know it’s going to be a tough fight. The forces of fear and misinformation will pull out all the stops, both in Texas and nationally,” Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick said at a press conference in Austin. "You can mark today as the day that Texas is drawing a line in the sand and saying ‘no’. The privacy and safety of Texans is our first priority, not political correctness."
Mr Patrick argued the statewide bill was necessary to protect women after a federal guidance from the Obama administration asked publicly funded schools to let trans people use bathrooms and locker rooms for their gender identity. However, opposition sides argue that the real danger is an increase in violence against transgender people spurred by divisive laws.
If passed, violators will face a civil fine of at least $1,000 per offense. It would also let businesses set anti-trans bathroom policies, overriding any local laws that say they can’t.
Last year, the state’s chamber of commerce the Texas Association of Business released a report last year warning that the passage of a law such as Senate Bill 6 could see the Lone Star State’s economy lose from $964m to $8.5bn and as many as 185,000 jobs.
However, Mr Patrick has dismissed critics, describing them as peddling "fake news" about the bill’s contents and potential impact. But the backlash against North Carolina’s HB2 was genuine. Some businesses shelved investment plans and major sports events such as the 2017 NBA All-Star Game went elsewhere.
"If you look at all the states in the country that have the most robust economies, they are states, almost without exception, that do not allow men into ladies’ rooms. But many of the states at the bottom of the pile, where their economies are suffering, have different policies,” Patrick said, adding that North Carolina is “doing just fine”.
The bill is authored by Patrick’s fellow Republican, Lois Kolkhorst, a state senator from Brenham, near Houston.