IN GOP Rep. Proposes Bill Criminalizing Transgender Peoples’ Restroom Use

Indiana State Sen. Jim Tomes

Indiana state Sen. Jim Tomes (R) has proposed a bill that would make it a crime for transgender people to use public sex-specific restrooms that don’t conform to their gender at birth.

Under the legislation, which the Chicago Tribune reports was proposed last week, doing so would hit transgender individuals with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

“If you were born a man, then you are obliged to use the males’ restroom,” Tomes told the Tribune on Christmas Eve.

The misdemeanor charge wouldn’t apply to students, juveniles, or facilities in private residences.

Tomes’ bill does, however, prohibit schools from allowing transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond to the gender with which they identify. As Think Progress’ Zack Ford pointed out, this qualification would force schools to violate Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any federally funded education program or facility. The Department of Justice issued a brief in July declaring that preventing transgender students from using facilities that correspond to their identities amounts to discrimination under Title IX.

In their brief, DOJ officials wrote, “There is a public interest in ensuring that all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of sex discrimination… Allowing transgender students to use the restrooms consistent with their gender identity will help prevent stigma that results in bullying and harassment.”

Similar bills aimed at restricting transgender peoples’ access to public restrooms failed to pass in Kentucky, Florida, Nevada and Texas this year.

h/t Think Progress

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