Texas is the next state to look at a controversial “bathroom bill,” – a measure that ran into trouble when it was introduced in North Carolina.
The state’s Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is proposing a bill that will prevent transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice, reported The Guardian.
A similar bill was introduced in North Carolina. It was heralded as an attack on transgender people and was opposed by many businesses as the state was boycotted by some organizations. The legislation was seen as the catalyst for the defeat of North Carolina governor Pat McCrory in November’s elections, although efforts to repeal it have failed so far.
Patrick’s “Women’s Privacy Act” is on the priority list for state Republicans in 2017.
The bill’s supporters say it is intended to protect women and girls from men entering women’s bathrooms and to deter sexual predators.
Patrick has not detailed his proposed bill, but says the legislation would allow businesses to create their own bathroom policies.
The first few months of the Trump administration are likely to see battles over transgender policies.
In December, a judge in Texas temporarily halted rules by the Obama administration intended to ban discrimination by medical professionals against against transgender people. Texas was joined in the lawsuit by Kentucky, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Kansas.
In Texas, The Women’s Privacy Act is one of a series of legislative priorities related to the criminal law, which include more serious sanctions for “inappropriate student-teacher relations” and a ban on partial-birth abortions.
In some states, transgender people already face serious consequences for using a restroom labeled for the gender with which they identify, under local ordinances.
Oxford City Council in Alabama has enacted an ordinance that could land transgender behind bars for up to six months.
The ordinance appeared to be a response to an announcement by retail giant Target that it would allow transgender employees and customers to use the restrooms they felt comfortable with.
The bathroom law ran into enforcement difficulties in North Carolina. Police are meant to check gender related to birth certificates but few people carry their birth certificates on them.
Many police departments said they would not stand guard at bathrooms but only respond if they received a complaint. In Asheville, the police department said it was not its business to be checking birth certificates.
When new laws are enacted there is often unfairness and uncertainty in enforcement.