Anti-trans fever has popped up all over America in recent months. There's North Carolina and its HB2 legislation; Texas, with its increasingly shrill (and confusing) anti-trans moves, that comes to mind; or Oxford, Alabama, which, for a brief period threatened people found using the "wrong" restroom with up to six months in jail.
Now the hysteria has come to the lavatories atop Capitol Hill, where our nation's lawmakers and leaders go to relieve themselves after a long day of doing whatever it is they do.
Steve King, a famously conservative Republican representing Iowa's 4th congressional district, proposed an amendment this week to HR 5325, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, which would effectively bar transgender people from using their preferred restrooms in a number of federal buildings. From Rep. King's amendment:
"None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to encourage, allow, or require any individual to use any bathroom other than the bathroom of the individual’s biological sex."
As The Washington Blade points out, this would essentially prevent transgender people from using the facilities in the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, and both Senate and House office buildings. In other words, Rep. King thinks that trans individuals working for a large swath of the Federal government should either hold it in or risk breaking the law.
This isn't Representative King's first time showing his anti-trans bias, either. In response to President Obama's call for transgender rights when it comes to bathroom access, King declared it was time for "civil disobedience" during an interview with radio host Simon Conway. He also worried that women refusing to shower alongside transgender women at the gym would result in "a bunch of sweaty women around" that "will probably change our culture."
While King's constituents may like his hardline style (they've elected him no fewer than seven times), there's evidence that a broad majority of Americans disagrees with his anti-trans stance. A recent poll put opposition to bathroom bills at nearly 57%, nationwide. Nevertheless, in the wake of President Obama's push for transgender rights, which was itself inspired by the furor over North Carolina's HB2, bathroom bills such as King's have become a major feature for socially conservative elements of the G.O.P. So while his amendment may never see the legislative light of day, it does give him a healthy dose of right-wing bona fides with segments of his electoral base—all in the midst of a topsy-turvy campaign season.
The House Rules Committee is reportedly set to review the amendments for HR 5325 this week. If approved, Representative King's anti-trans will be sent to the full House as part of the overall vote for the Act.