In the midst of a hotly debated string of U.S. bills aimed at keeping trans people out of public and school bathrooms that match their authentic genders, two proposed Missouri laws take a different approach: Prohibiting the creation of "gender neutral" facilities.
Republican state Rep. Jeff Pogue filed two bills Thursday that attempt to ensure a similar result as recent proposed laws in several states: barring men and women from sharing restroom space, reports St. Louis LGBT news site Boom. Bills in Florida and Texas would outlaw a citizen from using a public bathroom that did not accord with the gender assigned to them at birth, and bills in Kentucky, Minnesota, and Texas seek to do the same in schools.
Missouri's HB 1338, on the other hand, would require all public restrooms that were not single-occupancy to be gender-divided, while HB 1339 would disallow state revenue to be used towards creating "a gender-neutral environment" unless required by a federal or state court order.
Pogue's bills have been decried by Missouri LGBT rights group PROMO as a way to "create false fear" of trans people, notes Boom.
Republican legislators from Pogue to Florida's Frank Artiles, to Texas's Debbie Riddle and Gabriel Peña, have championed their bills, in part, with arguments often criticized by their opponents as inflammatory and baseless: promoting the false claim trans people, especially trans women, are predatory and threaten the safety of others in public bathrooms, locker rooms, or showers. Many have drawn attention to the fact that trans individuals are, in fact, more likely than their cisgender (nontrans) peers to be harassed or physically attacked in public facilitiles, while social media campaign #WeJustNeedToPee points out that trans people are not inherently dangerous.
"Fourteen cities and counties in Missouri and over 200 cities and counties across the county have passed laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination in public accomodations with no increase in public safety incidents," PROMO executive director A.J. Bockelman declared in a statement. "You would think the legislature had more pressing issues to address rather than pursue straw-man arguments."