Monthly Archives: March 2016

Emails to TN Legislators Regarding New Bathroom Bill

Tennessee is moving forward with its bathroom bill, worse than South Dakota’s.  To help fight the bill, I sent emails to each of the legislators on the relevant subcommittee.  My email is below; please feel free to modify it however you see fit and contact the legislators yourself.

Dear Rep. [Name],

I write to encourage you to vote not to move HB2414 forward.  The bill doesn’t address a real problem, is discriminatory, and violates Federal law putting Title IX funding at risk.

You heard from the Alliance Defending Freedom that allowing transgender girls to use the girl’s restroom is “a threat to student safety.”  We know from experience, however, that’s just not true.  Media Matters contacted the largest school districts in 12 states that protect the rights of transgender students, and not one reported the problems that Alliance Defending Freedom alleges will occur.  Indeed, trans people are the individuals most at risk in bathrooms, as a 2013 study from the Williams Institute shows. at 72 – 74.

The reason Alliance Defending Freedom is going across the country promoting these bills isn’t because they’re worried about some “threat”: it’s because they want states to discriminate against transgender people because they don’t believe that we are real.  They want to force us to live as our birth-assigned gender even though that isn’t who we are.  Plenty of studies confirm that transition benefits transgender people; one just this month shows that transgender children who are allowed to socially transition (including the bathroom usage that would be prohibited by this bill) have markedly better mental health outcomes than transgender children forced to live as their birth-assigned gender.  The Williams Institute study referenced above also describes the harms visited upon transgender children when discriminatory bathroom policies are in place.  This bill isn’t about protecting anyone; it’s about attacking a vulnerable minority, and children at that, in service to an ideology that does’t care about facts.

Those facts include a simple one: the U.S. Department of Education has correctly interpreted Title IX to protect transgender students from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity.  In the attached letter, the Department explains that

The Department’s Title IX regulations permit schools to provide sex-segregated restrooms, locker rooms, shower facilities, housing, athletic teams, and single-sex classes under certain circumstances. When a school elects to separate or treat students differently on the basis of sex in those situations, a school generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.

The Department has been enforcing this interpretation across the country, and would surely take action against school districts for violating Federal law.  Meanwhile, transgender students would have a cause of action to sue school districts, diverting valuable taxpayer dollars from education to defending against lawsuits the school districts will never win.  The state of Tennessee would also likely be mired in litigation.  Republican Governor Daugaard of South Dakota recently vetoed similar legislation for these reasons.

To put it bluntly, this bill won’t address a real problem, will hurt children through its illegal discrimination, and will ultimately cost the state substantial money in litigation costs.  Your choice is clear.  Do not vote to move HB2414 forward.

— Emily T. Prince, Esq.