On Saturday, a woman named Ashley Smith posted a photo of herself with Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Smith is transgender, and an LGBT activist. That would make her photo standing with Abbott and smiling pretty surprising, because Abbott is pushing S.B. 6, a so-called "bathroom bill" that would force transgender people to use public restrooms and locker rooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificates, instead of their gender identity. The Washington Post reports that Smith wanted to protest the bill, and came up with an ingenious way to do it.
Smith posted the picture of her and Abbott, asking in the caption, "How will the Potty Police know I'm transgender if the Governor doesn't?"
“I did not think shouting would work, or that I would be heard and was more interested in getting the photograph and not getting thrown out,” Smith told reporters. “Once I had the photo, I was eager to get on social media just because I wanted to make a point.”
So, what is Smith's point? Well, Governor Abbott seemingly wants to regulate who goes to the bathroom where, and though there are plenty of transphobic people out there who support the notion, the reality is, you have no idea what someone's biological sex is by looking at them. Smith is transgender and Abbott, apparently, had no idea.
He and Smith must have talked long enough for him to agree to a photo. Still, nothing. How can you decide whether or not someone is transgender standing at a bathroom door? Will people be forced to show I.D. to use the toilet? Who will be paying all these aggressive bathroom attendants?
North Carolina currently has a bathroom bill in place, which has cost the state an enormous amount of money as people refuse to work with them as long as discrimination is legal in the state. S.B. 6 failed to pass during Texas's regular legislative session, but Abbott revived it when he ordered a special 30-day legislative session to debate the bill.
Smith has been protesting the bill with her LGBT rights group, Indivisible San Antonio.
“We’re about 1-in-300 people, we’re all over the place, we’re your friends and your neighbors,” Smith explained. “Some of us are not immediately obvious as trans. And the idea that you are going to be able to enforce a bathroom bill, I mean the enforceability is just not there.”
Transgender people have been using the bathroom without incident long before there was a cultural understanding of what being transgender meant. North Carolina and now Texas are creating a huge, expensive problem for themselves out of nothing. Smith and other trans activists are doing the hard work of pointing that out, in some instances just by showing up.