Utah could jail trans people for using ‘wrong’ toilet under new proposed law

Stock image of a gender-neutral toilet door

Trans people in Utah could face jail for using toilets that don’t correspond with the sex on their birth certificate, if a proposed new bill is put into law.

The state’s House of Representatives came under fire on Monday (22 January) after passing a bill that would force transgender people to only use bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex.

The bill, HB 257, would not just ban trans people from using the correct toilets in airports, public schools, universities and convention centres, but also redefine “sex” to exclude transgender people.

Under the proposed legislation, trans adults will only be allowed to use toilets that correspond with their gender if they have legally changed their birth certificate and undergone gender-confirming surgery.

It will now be sent to the state’s senate for debate and a vote. 

According to Truthout, if the bill is passed into law by the Senate, those in violation “could be guilty of criminal trespassing and voyeurism”, a sentence “punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 (£790) fine”. 

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Journalist Erin Reed said on Twitter/X: “This will profoundly impact travel for trans people. Salt Lake City is a major connecting flight hub. Trans people could be arrested in the airport under this law.”

Democratic representative Sahara Hayes, the only out queer member of Utah’s legislature, and whose partner is transgender, said the bill makes her “scared for [her] family”. 

She went on to say: “We have had multiple discussions about what our lives would look like if this should pass. I’m scared for every transgender person who has to choose between holding their bladder or potentially being seen as a criminal.”

This latest anti-LGBTQ+ bill is just one of many Utah has passed in recent years, with legislation to ban trans girls from taking part in sports subject to a veto by the governor and facing a lawsuit from families of transgender children.

Utah was the first state to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans children in 2023, barring minors from receiving gender-affirming surgeries and blocking access to puberty blockers and hormone therapy unless they had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Reed claimed that if the new bill passes into law, it would render Utah a “Do Not Travel” state – a warning which was put in place for Florida because its anti-LGBTQ+ laws

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