Chattanooga State Representative Richard Floyd filed a bill this week that would have targeted the use of bathrooms by transgender people. The Senate version was withdrawn shortly after it was filed. Specifically, it would make anyone going into a restroom or dressing room designated for the sex other than what’s on their birth certificate. Tennessee law already prohibits changing the birth certificate for transgender men and women.
Apparently, at least Chattanooga has one grown-up still in the Senate since Bo Watson (R-Hixon) quickly withdrew the bill. He initially co-sponsored the bill “as a standard courtesy” to local House members. Apparently, that courtesy ended once he realized exactly how much of a hot potato it really was.
“I understand Rep. Floyd’s passion about the issue, but we have more pressing issues before us that we need to focus our attention on and we don’t need to get sidetracked,” Watson said.
Floyd apparently filed his bill after reading an article about a Natalie Johnson, a Macy’s employee in Texas who was fired after she stopped a transgender woman from entering the women’s dressing room.
Johnson explained her position to a San Antonio news reporter:
“Any man who is in the process of becoming a woman, well guess what? You are still a man,” Johnson said.
Adding to her embarrassing lack of understanding on the issue of gender dysphoria:
“I personally don’t believe in transgenders,” Johnson said. “These are just people that are mentally confused.”
It’d be really unfortunate if someone with Natalie Johnson’s level of extreme ignorance were to have a position of real authority like that of a state legislator. Otherwise, we’d end up with… oh. Wait. Never mind. We have Representative Richard Floyd.
“It could happen here,” Floyd said. “I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry.
So, not only do we have a typical, small-minded, bigoted, transphobic thug representing the fine people of Chattanooga (which has a rather vibrant LGBT community, by the way), he’s just as ignorant as Johnson was back in Texas:
“Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk,” he said. “We cannot continue to let these people dominate how society acts and reacts. Now if somebody thinks he’s a woman and he’s a man and wants to try on women’s clothes, let them him take them into the men’s bathroom or dressing room.”
Now I’m going to pretend for a moment that the people reading this post are generally educated on gender identity disorder and gender dysphoria. Every time something like this pops up, I’m still astonished that people still think that it’s all about people getting their rocks off by going into a women’s bathroom.
Transgender men and women go through intense therapy before even thinking about having any kind of gender reassignment surgery, and part of that therapy is for the person to live their life as their true gender.
Transitioning from one gender to another is a complex process and may involve transition to a gender that is neither traditionally male nor female. People who transition often start by expressing their preferred gender in situations where they feel safe. They typically work up to living full time as members of their preferred gender by making many changes a little at a time. While there is no “right” way to transition genders, there are some common social changes transgender people experience that may involve one or more of the following: adopting the appearance of the desired sex through changes in clothing and grooming, adopting a new name, changing sex designation on identity documents (if possible), using hormone therapy treatment, and/or undergoing medical procedures that modify their body to conform with their gender identity.
Every transgender person’s process or transition differs. Because of this, many factors may determine how the individual wishes to live and express their gender identity. Finding a qualified mental health professional who is experienced in providing affirmative care for transgender people is an important first step. A qualified professional can provide guidance and referrals to other helping professionals. Connecting with other transgender people through peer support groups and transgender community organizations is also helpful.
So, instead of becoming more informed on the issue, people like Floyd and Johnson would rather strive to embarrass, humiliate, and even arrest a person just for going to the bathroom or trying on a garment.
Tennessee still has to contend with the other bigoted bills that haven’t been withdrawn yet — the Don’t Say Gay bill and the Religious License to Bully bill.
Special thanks to Jonathan Cole and the Tennessee Equality Project for sounding the alarm on this bill.