civil rights

SB 6: Limiting Access to Justice

Senate Bill 6 is being heard in committee tomorrow.  I wanted to add some thoughts to this discussion.


Senate Bill 6 would mandate that public buildings, including government buildings, require people using the facility to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender assigned at birth and placed on the birth certificate.


I represent lots of LGBT people.  Those whom I represent that are accused of crimes, guilty or not, are required to appear before the court presiding over their cases.  This requires their presence in a government building, the county courthouse, which would be covered by this bill.  My clients would be forced to use a bathroom corresponding to the gender assigned at birth while attending court.


My clients do not have a choice to come in the courthouse.  They must or risk consequences.  They do not control how long they will be in that building --- they are not allowed to leave until they are excused by the court.


My clients would be faced with an untenable position – go into a bathroom in which they are not comfortable, do not appear to belong in, and may indeed face real danger in; do not use the bathroom at all; or face consequences for using the “wrong” restroom.


If my clients have to make this choice, it is going to severely limit their abilities to defend themselves from criminal accusations.  They will want to limit the amount of time in court – which means they may not want an extensive plea bargaining process, and they definitely will not want to elect for a trial in which they will have to spend hours upon days in the courthouse in which they will inevitably have to go to the bathroom.


If you do not have sympathy for criminal defendants, think of the witnesses, including the complaining witnesses.  A person should not have to drop charges against someone who has victimized them because going to testify at a county courthouse will involve them having to go into a bathroom in which they do not feel comfortable.  I believe this will limit trans people from seeking justice.


Ultimately, this bill is going to limit access to justice by making courthouses very inhospitable to trans citizens, who should enjoy the same rights to defend themselves or seek justice against people who have victimized them as anyone else.


I ask the committee to refrain from passing this bill out of committee.