Mississippi Republicans pass anti-trans bathroom bill at last-minute

Author: Donald Padgett

Republican legislators in Mississippi advanced a bill preventing trans folks from using bathrooms, changing facilities, or dormitories aligned with their gender identity, the Associated Press reported. The bill was thought dead after it stalled in committee, but a compromise version was approved as the state’s four-month legislative session entered its final days. The bill now awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Tate Reeves.

“Boys will go to boys bathrooms, girls will go to girls bathrooms,” Rep. Joey Hood (R-Ackerman) said last month when introducing the bill in the House.

Democrats and activists called out Republicans for advancing the controversial bill when the legislature could be improving the lives of its constituents.

“It just baffles me that we have things we can do to improve the state of Mississippi for all people, for all people, but we get so pumped on something that’s national politics,” Rep. Jeffrey Hulum III (D-Gulfport) said of the bill. “It is not my job to criticize how people live their lives.”

Speaker Pro Tempore Dean Kirby, a Republican, disagreed, saying the issue was important to many voters.

“This probably, to a lot of our constituents and to a lot of people in this chamber, is probably the most important bill that we brought up,” Kirby said.

Senate Bill 2753, known as the “Securing Areas for Females Effectively and Responsibly Act” or the “SAFER Act ,” defines gender as the sex assigned at birth and requires individuals to use this definition when using a bathroom, changing facility, and dormitory. It also requires separate such facilities for biological men and women, or to have a separate unisex facility available for use by trans folks.

The bill initially stalled when lawmakers disagreed over whether individuals could sue for compensatory damages from trans folks who used facilities that align with their gender identity. Some feared that would turn the bill into a litigation buffet for lawyers and refused to sign. The current version of the bill passed by the House and Senate allows citizens to sue trans folks who violate the law, but it has no provision for compensatory damages. Schools would have liability protections from such lawsuits.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Donald Padgett

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