Yesterday afternoon I read about Oxford, Alabama passing a law so that anywhere within the city’s police jurisdiction, it is now a criminal offense for transgender people to use restrooms that match their gender identity unless they have undergone surgery and successfully changed the gender marker on their birth certificate. That, of course, is a very, very small fraction of transgender folks. Surgery is expensive, dangerous, often requires travel, and isn't desired by everyone. Moreover, many states will not change the sex on a birth certificate, even when proof of reassignment surgery is provided.
Each individual violation will result in a $500 fine or up to six months in jail.
Oxford's about forty miles east of Birmingham, on I-20, on the way to Atlanta. I read the article, and it truly hit me that I am a sort of exile. It is becoming increasingly unsafe for transgender people to live in the South, and if I were to move back home, or even go visit my mom and sister, I'd be facing this crap. The fact of it hit me like a load of bricks. It shut me down for the day. On Facebook I wrote:
How long now until Southern states (and cities) begin forbidding people to dress in a way that is considered inconsistent with their "sex at birth"? There are already places where laws against appearing in public "in disguise" are on the books (old, old laws), and those would be easy to tweak to use against transgender persons. There is no longer anything outlandish about this fear. How long before there are attempts to criminalize everything from drag shows to sex reassignment?
And I'd hoped that today would look silly and alarmist, so that I'd have to take it down. But it doesn't look silly and it doesn't look alarmist, and I can't take it down. After I transitioned, I lived in Alabama and Georgia for another fifteen years (1993-2008). And I took a lot of bullshit off people, but I did at least have the protection of the law.
It seems to me now that, for all that time, I was living in a sort of cultural cold war, and now the South is engaged in an all-out shooting war against transgender persons. And I feel I should be doing something, but I have no idea what that could be.