The Politics of the Toilet Police

Given all the craziness that comes out of Trump’s Washington, it is helpful to be reminded, from time to time, that craziness can come from other places-like Texas.  Hence this only slightly phantasmagorical tale.

Once upon a short time in the future in 2017, there lived in Texas, a twelve-year-old girl by the name of Josephina.  2017 isa the year that Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, Texas, drafted what was known as Senate Bill 6 (S.B.6) and introduced it into the Texas legislature.  It is a Bill “relating to regulations and policies for entering or using a bathroom or changing facility. . . .”  As of this writing, S.B. 6 has not been passed, but for our purposes and, Texas being Texas, S.B. 6 will be treated as passed.  S.B.6 says the quoted words refer to a place where a person might be in a state of undress and includes a “restroom, locker room, changing room, or shower room.”   S.B.6 applies to all schools, universities and publicly owned building with bathrooms or changing rooms.  It provides that those buildings must have a policy that their facilities can be used “only by persons based on the persons’ biological sex” that being the sex “which is stated on a person’s birth certificate.”  S.B. 6 has many other provisions but those are the pertinent ones for this tale.

One day, when Josephina was celebrating her 12th birthday, she announced to her parents that she wanted to lose her “ina”, those being the last three letters in her name, (that quite by coincidence rhymed with a part of her body she no longer wanted to be identified with) and, henceforth, wanted to be known only as “Joseph.”

Josephina’s parents were understanding and went with her to buy a new wardrobe of boy’s clothes.  When Josephina was dressed in her new clothes,  it was obvious that she had abandoned her “ina” and looked for all the world a boy.  The parents advised the school that in the future Josephina was to be addressed as “Joseph” or “Joe” and that, for all purposes, she was to be considered a boy. The school officials were accommodating, but explained that they did not have a single stall bathroom and Joseph would have to continue using the girl’s locker room for changing clothes or, when going to the bathroom.  School officials further explained that they could not make an exception to the requirement that Joe use the girls’ facilities, because of S.B. 6. They also said that, in addition to S.B. 6, they had heard a rumor that legislators would probably enact another bill creating something called the TSA (Toilet Security Administration) although that, they emphasized, was only a rumor.  The school officials explained that from rumors it had heard, in front of every restroom and changing room in every building subject to S.B. 6, there will be a TSA official to inspect the birth certificates of anyone seeking to enter the facility, irrespective of a person’s physical appearance or attire.

Pursuant to the rumored TSA law (which, I again emphasize, has not been introduced in the Texas legislature but, Texas being Texas, may be as soon as someone in the legislature thinks of it)  a person without a birth certificate will be taken to a private room where the private parts of the person seeking entry can be inspected by a gender neutral inspector, to ensure that the person entering the facility is of the sex appropriate to use of the facility the person seeks to enter, irrespective of what the person’s appearance would otherwise suggest

S.B. 6 is going to make toilets in Texas among the most interesting places in Texas to visit.  When Joseph gets to be an adult he hopes to enter one of the professions where men wear coats and ties. If he is attending a meeting in a building subject to S.B. 6 where he is not known to the TSA agents, and needs to use the toilet facilities, he will, upon presenting his birth certificate, be sent into the women’s toilet where some of the women, having not had the benefit of seeing his birth certificate, will mistakenly assume that he is a man and has no business being in their bathroom even though he enters a stall with a door and locks it.  The less secure among the women may actually scream, thus causing security officers to come rushing in to prevent what is, presumably, some sort of assault perpetrated by Joe.

In addition, to the clothes Joseph’s parents bought for him, for his 16th birthday they gave him money so that he could have transgender surgery and acquire all the physical attributes that boys born boys have. Should Joe get into a hot tub in a women’s locker room where the custom is to wear no suit, there may also be exclamations of dismay that will not be quieted even if Joe presents the other bathers his birth certificate.

This column offers just a few examples of what will happen under S.B. 6.  Since it is only about the issues that Joseph will confront, there is no discussion of what happens when a boy named Paul follows Joseph’s path in reverse.  Such a column would be called: “The Perils of Paulina.”

Christopher Brauchli is an attorney based in Boulder, Colorado.