The Daily Beast looks at what it means in practice to be a transgender person in Texas facing the prospect of having to use your birth certificate to use the bathroom.
According to the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank based out of the UCLA School of Law, there are over 125,000 transgender adults in Texas, most of them black or Latino. North Carolina, for comparison, is home to about 45,000 transgender adults. The Texas total falls just shy of 9 percent of the 1.4 million transgender adults in the entire country. No other state besides California has a larger trans population.
And if SB6 clears the state house—an uncertain possibility, given that Republican House Speaker Joe Straus has said he’s “not a fan of the bill”—those 125,000 transgender adults and thousands of transgender minors would be barred from using public restrooms unless they have successfully updated the gender markers on their birth certificates.
That’s where things get especially tricky for transgender Texans.
“Getting your documents updated in the state of Texas is rather difficult,” Lou Weaver, Transgender Programs Coordinator for the LGBT advocacy group Equality Texas, told The Daily Beast.
“Rather difficult,” in this case, is an understatement. The majority of U.S. states have written policies allowing transgender people to change the gender markers on their birth certificates with either a doctor’s letter specifying that they have had “appropriate clinical treatment” or proof of sex reassignment surgery, which not all transgender people want or can afford. About twice as many states require surgery as those that do not.
But the state of Texas goes a step further, requiring transgender people to obtain a court order—generally after surgery—to change the sex on their birth certificates.
Not all judges are willing to provide such an order.
As the National Center for Transgender Equality notes, “current case law and evidence indicates that some Texas officials and judges are averse to issuing the necessary court orders.”
Transgender people may have to travel to a different county to locate a court that will accommodate their request. And even when they people do find a willing judge, the process takes time.
In other words, someone who has had gender reassignment surgery but who has not been able to get the arduous process of updating their birth certificate changed would still have to use the public restroom of their birth gender under SB6. You want to see people with penises in the ladies’ room? SB6 will do that.