Monday, June 28, 2021

ACLU challenges Tennessee’s new law requiring transgender bathroom signs and my thoughts on the topic.

Yue Stella Yu, USA TODAY NETWORK – TENNESSEE -Tennessee’s first-ofits- kind lawrequiring businesses to post signs about transgenderfriendly bathrooms is expected to take effect July 1. Now, that law is being challenged in federal court. The American Civil Liberties Union and its Tennessee chapter filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of two business owners on Friday. 

The new law, the complaint argued, is “unconstitutional” and violates businesses’ First Amendment right “against compelled speech.” “Forcing businesses to display a stigmatizing message for political expedience is unconstitutional,” Hedy Weinberg, executive director of ACLU-Tennessee, said in a statement. “Furthermore, by targeting the transgender community, these government- mandated signs marginalize and endanger transgender individuals. Tennessee should be embracing and protecting all Tennesseans, not passing unconstitutional discriminatory laws.” (Read more)

Rod's Comment: I am not going to jump to a conclusion that the ACLU is wrong on this. Let the courts figure it out.  I do hate to see the state micromanage businesses by imposing additional unnecessary mandates. The ACLU has a point, but it may be a weak one.

I always thought this was an unnecessary law.  There are a lot more trans women (biological men who identify as women) than trans men so I doubt I have ever been in a men's bathroom with a person who was a biological female who appeared male.  My wife or sisters or mother or daughter however may have been in a bathroom with a person who was a biological male who appeared as a female.  If so, I can not work up much outrage about it.  If so, they probably had no clue it happened.  If a biological male dressed as a female, whether a crossdresser or a transsexual, were in the women's bathroom it was not to molest women.  They were responding to the call of nature.  They probably did not let their sex be known, if it did happen.  

This law appears to be an unnecessary salvo in the culture wars.  Now, I don't like having trans policies crammed down my throat.  I do not think biological males should be allowed to compete in women's sports as if they were female.  I don't think one should be forced to pretend men are women.  I adamantly oppose the use of puberty blockers and hormone treatment of minor children.  And, I will not use terms like "birthing person," to replace the term "mother."  

However, this law always seemed to me like an unnecessary case of in-your-face defiance of liberal culture and a case of virtue signaling on the part of the state legislature. This seemed like a solution in search of a problem. 

Here is what the law says
(a) A public or private entity or business that operates a building or facility open to the general public and that, as a matter of formal or informal policy, allows a member of either biological sex to use any public restroom within the building or facility shall post notice of the policy at the entrance of each public restroom and at each entrance of the building accessible by the general public.

That is kind of vague. I suspect that most businesses have no such formal or informal policy on the topic.   Unless forced to establish a formal or informal policy because of complaints, they most likely have never considered it an issue about which to have a policy.  And since I doubt the transexuals announced their biological sex, when they entered a bathroom that conformed to their outward appearance, I doubt no one knew when a transsexual was in the bathroom. Since no one knew, there would be no complaints so management would not have to establish a policy.  The way it is written, if the business has no policy, they do not have to post the signs.

Since I doubt very few businesses are going to post such a sign, unless maybe to please a gay clientele in a gay bar, this law will have little impact and will not result in much of a burden to businesses.  The law does not require businesses to have a policy.  Since a business without a policy does not have to post the sign, this seems like a weak case of "compelled speech," but I am not an attorney and do not know the case law on the topic. So, I will accept as resonable and correct whatever the court rules. 

I don't see much point to this law but neither do I see much point in having it overturned. I actually think it was petty of the legislature to pass this unnecessary law but think it is hardly worth fighting over. But maybe, we ought to only fight battles that matter.  Mutilating children matters.  I am not sure forcing a business that has established a policy on who can use which restroom, to post signage making people aware of that policy really matters all that much. 

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