Arkansas Senate approves one of most extreme anti-trans bathroom bills yet

A bathroom sign with a smaller sign that reads "All genders welcome"

Senators in Arkansas have approved a bill that would criminalise trans people if they use a toilet when a child is present.

Senate Bill 270, the most extreme “bathroom bill” in the US, was approved by lawmakers on Tuesday (7 March). This means that a trans person could be charged with sexual indecency with a child if they remain in the same public changing facility with a “minor of the opposite sex present”.

“Bathroom bills” refer to legislation that aims to ban transgender people using toilets and same-sex changing facilities that best align with their gender identity.

The class-C misdemeanour can lead to 30 days in jail and a $500 (£420) fine. Exceptions to the proposed law include parents accompanying young children, emergency workers and health inspectors.

Trans people who have gone through gender-affirming procedures could still be criminally charged if Bill 270 becomes law.

The Republicans control Arkansas’ senate with a majority of 23 and the bill was passed by 19 votes to seven.

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One Republican senator, Joshua Bryant, spoke out against the proposed legislation, saying that trans adults in the state have the right to change their gender, even if he didn’t agree with that.

“It’s like charging someone with armed robbery if they took a concealed handgun into a building where it’s not allowed,” he said. “I may not understand why they did it, I may not agree with why they did it, but it was their decision as an adult.”

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Arkansas’ cruel anti-trans bathroom bill is nothing new

With the number of similar bills plaguing numerous states reaching into the hundreds, trans people are being denied basic needs.

A young trans girl in South Dakota pretended to have a broken arm and hand in 2022 because of an anti-trans bathroom policy, according to her father.

House Bill 1005 passed in the House State Affairs committee in January 2022 on a vote of seven to five, and it was pushed through the House by 38 votes to 29 the following month.

Mike Phelan told PinkNews that his family was especially active in fighting a bill that would have banned trans youth from using the correct toilets at schools in South Dakota. The bill was eventually killed in February 2022, after an all-Republican committee struck it down.

Last year, in Oklahoma, Republican governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law that bans trans students from using toilets that match their gender identity.

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