Texas Senate Passes Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill In Special Session

The bill has been amended in an attempt to prevent economic loss in the state, but remains a shameful attack on the lives and dignity of transgender Texans.

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Jul 27 2017, 6:49pm

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After several months of attempts to push through a bill that would ban transgender men, women, and children from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, the Texas Senate passed a version of this so-called "bathroom bill" on Wednesday night. With a 21-10 vote, Senate Bill 3 was approved in the legislature's special session, which lawmakers have also used to pass more abortion restrictions. The bill is now heading to the House.

Based on the false pretense that transgender people are predators, the bill would force people to use the bathrooms, showers, or changing rooms in public schools and government buildings that match the sex indicated on their birth certificates or state ID cards. It would also walk back city ordinances that explicitly protect transgender rights and prevent new ones from being enacted.

In this way, the bill is similar to a version of the bill, SB6, which failed to pass in the regular session in May. However, following major backlash from corporations that warned anti-trans legislation would be bad for the state's economy, lawmakers added an amendment that exempts government buildings—such as stadiums and convention centers—if they are privately leased.

Read more: Youth, Interrupted: The Heartbreaking, Hidden Lives of Transgender Teens

Courthouse News reports that the amendment "was an attempt to appease many business leaders and city officials opposed to the bill on the grounds that it could drive away top-tier sporting events, professional conferences, and conventions of organizations that have anti-discrimination policies."

By some measurements, Texas stands to lose $8.5 billion if an anti-trans bill passes. When SB6 was being debated, a coalition of corporations came out against the bill—including Apple, Dropbox, Lyft, Google, Amazon, and local businesses—under the banner of Keep Texas Open for Business.

In an interview with Broadly, Silicon Labs, an Austin-based tech company and a pledging member of Keep Texas Open for Business, said that any anti-trans bill would be bad for Texas and affirmed the company's opposition to the legislation, despite the new concessions included in SB 3. "We don't believe that there's any compromise when it comes to discrimination," spokesperson Deirdre Walsh said. "This bill still creates a discriminatory environment."

When reached out to for comment, a representative from Dropbox also said that the company's "previously expressed opposition still stands."

"This bill still creates a discriminatory environment."

Beyond monetary costs, this bill could cost lives. "The reality is that his repeated targeting of trans people for the past few years has, and will continue to have, dire consequences," Chase Strangio, an attorney with the ACLU, previously told Broadly.

And the ACLU has maintained that laws like SB 3 are unconstitutional. "It's too early to tell what this legislation will look like in its final form, but constitutional considerations clearly haven't factored into the Senate's thinking," Andre Segura, legal director of the ACLU of Texas, said in a press release. "We call on all legislators to consider not only the severe economic consequences of passing such unwise and unlawful policies, but the personal toll this will take on the lives of Texans from all walks of life. Texans deserve better."