Friday, June 10, 2016

A Sample Resolution Against "Bathroom Bills"

We are at a crossroads in the U.S. when it comes to the issue of protecting trans people from discrimination. The federal government has issued guidelines that make it clear that discrimination against trans and gender-nonconforming people is illegal, at least in certain contexts (the person is a student, a medical patient, or a federal employee). Many organizations and localities have enacted further legal protections for trans children and adults.

But the backlash has been potent. We are seeing a rash of so-called "bathroom bills" being introduced in cities and states around the nation, which ban protecting trans people from discrimination based on the false claim that such laws would put women and girls at risk in bathrooms, locker rooms, and the like. If you are reading this, I presume that you already agree that pro-discrimination bills are a great wrong. But what can you do about them?

Well, one thing you can do is to convince an organization you're in that your group should take a stand against the passing of transphobic laws. You can pass a resolution explaining why you oppose discriminatory laws, and send it to stakeholders and decisionmakers in your area.

Drafting an official-sounding resolution can be challenging, though. Therefore, to help folks who want to take this action, I will share here the text of a resolution I recently drafted for an organization of which I am a member. When that organization meets, the members may decide they want to add or subtract something from the language before they vote to pass the resolution. Your group can do that as well. It's always good to tweak sample language to fit your specific situation! But it's a lot easier to tweak already-existing language than come up with a whole resolution from scratch, so I hope this is helpful to people.

Here's the sample resolution:



WHEREAS respect for people of all gender identities and expressions is an important value of [insert organization name]; AND

WHEREAS gender transition as a resolution of the experience of gender dysphoria is affirmed and supported by the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and numerous other professional groups who care for transgender people, AND

WHEREAS a vital part of gender transition and the health and safety of trans people is living in their identified, authentic genders, with those genders being affirmed and respected in the various spaces and institutional settings where those individuals live, work, and go to school, AND

WHEREAS the federal government has issued guidances making it clear that discrimination against trans people violates federal law, TO WIT:

a)    Students at schools receiving federal funds must not face discrimination due to their gender identity or expression, which protection extends to freedom from harassment, bullying, or nonrecognition of their identified genders, and the right to access facilities and activities open to those of their identified genders (“Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students,” interpreting Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, issued by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education); and
b)   These same rights extend to federal employees who are transgender or gender-nonconforming (“Guidance Regarding the Employment of Transgender Individuals in the Federal Workplace,” issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, interpreting the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and the Privacy Act); and
c)    Patients are protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in health care under the Affordable Care Act (“Final Rule to Improve Health Equity under the Affordable Care Act,” issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services); AND

WHEREAS a transphobic backlash against these civil rights protections is ongoing, taking the form of state and local legal initiatives and a federal lawsuit filed by eleven states and state officials opposing the guidance on the protection of trans and gender-nonconforming students listed as (a) above; AND

WHEREAS these anti-transgender initiatives focus centrally on access to bathrooms and locker rooms, claiming that laws protecting transgender people will enable men and boys to enter bathrooms and locker rooms designated for the use of women and girls, in order to commit voyeuristic harassment or sexual assault; AND

WHEREAS trans people have in fact been using bathrooms that match their identified genders for many decades without any such problem existing; AND

WHEREAS legal protection of gender identity does not in any way render harassment or assault legal, AND

WHEREAS it is in fact trans women who face substantial risk of becoming the victims of violence or persecution in accessing bathrooms; AND

WHEREAS claims of a fantasized risk to “innocents” have a long history in being deployed to justify discrimination and segregation, including claims that racial desegregation would put white women and girls at risk of rape and the transmission of STIs via toilet seats, claims that banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation would put children at risk of molestation, and claims that the Equal Rights Amendment banning sex discrimination would make sex-segregated facilities illegal, putting women and girls in danger in the same way now being claimed for legal protections for gender identity and expression; AND

WHEREAS the end of legal racial segregation and the introduction of protections on the bases of sex and sexual orientation did not lead to the fantasized onslaughts of sexual abuse; and

WHEREAS so-called “bathroom bills” have a vastly greater negative impact on trans people than just limiting their ability to access toilets; TO WIT:

a)    These bills deny the reality of gender identity, often using the nonsense phrase “biological gender,” which conflates physical sex characteristics at birth with gender identity in order to delegitimate gender transition as delusional; and
b)   These bills encourage the general public to treat trans people, particularly trans women, with fear, and to see them as potential child molesters and inclined to sexual assault; and
c)    These bills encourage the general public to engage in gender policing, which is a practice of scrutinizing the appearance and behavior of others, framing trans people as deceptive in their gender presentations, and punishing gender-nonconformity—a practice that impacts cisgender individuals as well as trans people; AND

WHEREAS the goal of a just society should be that all of its members be treated with dignity and respect, rather than mocked, bullied, stigmatized, falsely accused, banned from equal access to facilities, or otherwise marginalized;

1)   [Insert organization name] reaffirms its longstanding support of the protection of people against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression; AND

2)   [Insert organization name] is grateful for the federal guidances which have issued from various agencies, making it clear that discrimination against trans and/or gender-nonconforming people in schooling, federal employment, and health care is against federal law; AND

3)   [Insert organization name] opposes the lawsuit by 11 states and state officials who claim a right to discriminate against transgender students; AND

4)   [Insert organization name] opposes all so-called “bathroom bills,” which institutionalize transphobia , delegitimate gender transition; and encourage public harassment of trans people; AND

5)   [Insert organization name] urges all public bodies considering so-called “bathroom bills” to recognize and acknowledge the reasons for our opposition, as enumerated in the body of this Resolution; AND

6)   [Insert organization name] urges all public entities charged with building and administrating public facilities to make available single-stall, lockable, all-gender restrooms and locker rooms for those who wish greater privacy in using the facilities and/or those who do not identify with a binary gender; AND

7)   [Insert organization name] holds that in any building that has both men’s and women’s multistall facilities and single-stall, any-gender facilities, transgender individuals can never be required to use the non-gendered facilities, as this constitutes segregation, but rather that both trans and cisgender individuals have the choice of using either a multistall facility that matches their gender identity, or a single-stall, all-gender facility; AND

8)   [Insert organization name] urges all whom this Resolution reaches to enact rules and regulations which respect and protect the rights of trans and gender-nonconforming people.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution shall be published on the website of [insert organization name], and that copies of it will be delivered by both email and paper mail to the Governors and Attorneys General of each of the United States and Territories and the Mayor of the District of Columbia. Email copies will also be sent to appropriate administrative agents of the DOJ, HHS, DOE and OPM, and to the heads of major trans/LGBT rights groups, including the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Transgender Law Center, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, the Transgender Law and Policy Institute, the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD (formerly an abbreviation for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, now the full name of the organization as the prior name excluded trans advocacy), and the ACLU. Members of [insert organization name] are invited to distribute copies of this Resolution to local school districts, legislators, administrative agents or other authorities they know to be addressing the issue of protection of trans and gender-nonconforming children and adults.

RESOLVED THIS [insert date] DAY OF [insert month], [insert year].