Arizona lawmaker wants to ban trans people from using the "wrong" bathroom

State Rep. John Kavanagh doesn't think people should define their gender by "what they think in their head"

By Katie McDonough

Published March 20, 2013 5:13PM (EDT)

    (ABC News 12)
(ABC News 12)

Last month, the Phoenix City Council passed a package of nondiscrimination protections to ensure that people have equal access to employment, housing and public accommodations regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. And it's precisely this new law that Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh (R) is targeting with his proposed legislation to ban transgender people from using the correct bathroom.

As Think Progress notes, Kavanagh used a Senate bill about a Massage Therapy Board as a vehicle for the blatantly transphobic proposal, which would prohibit a person from entering a “public restroom, bathroom, shower, bath, dressing room, or locker room” if the sex designation of that facility does not match their birth certificate.

Defending the bill to a local news affiliate, Kavanagh likened transgender people to people who want to go into "opposite sex facilities" because "they're weird":

KAVANAGH: The city of Phoenix has crafted a bill that allows people to define their sex by what they think in their head. If you’re a male, you don’t go into a female shower or locker room, or vice versa. It also raises the specter of people who want to go into those opposite sex facilities not because they’re transgender, but because they’re weird.

If passed, the bill could carry a fine of $2,500 and six months in jail for using the "wrong" bathroom.

The bill is obviously discriminatory (Kavanagh doesn't hide his disdain for the transgender community in his comments), but there is also a question about how to enforce such a measure. The proposed ban would rely on gender profiling and sex policing in public facilities. In the context of restrooms and locker rooms, that sounds a lot like spying on partially nude people. Which, it's worth noting, is already illegal in Arizona.


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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