The Atlantic posted an article today analyzing a new wave of transgender “bathroom bills” as legislation is considered in Texas, Kentucky and Virginia despite the risk of backlash from House Bill 2 seen in North Carolina.
The law inspired huge boycotts, cost the state an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in lost economic growth, drew a lawsuit from the Department of Justice, and was a central cause of Republican ex-Governor Pat McCrory’s defeat in his reelection bid. In late December, an attempt to repeal the law failed amid partisan acrimony—but over how to repeal the bill, not whether to repeal it.
But in several states, legislators have taken a different lesson: They’ve seen what happened in North Carolina and decided that their states need something like it. Lawmakers in Texas, Virginia, and Kentucky have all filed similar bills, reflecting an alternative political calculus on transgender rights. While the language is slightly different across the bills, they share several essential characteristics: They define biological sex based on an individual’s birth certificate, and then say that people must use public accommodations—especially in public schools—corresponding to that sex.
The article points out that the future of transgender laws are in flux as the Trump administration takes over, and that it’s inspired legislators to push their own agendas, “even at the risk of incurring the harsh business backlash that accompanied H.B. 2.”
In fact, part of the strategy behind the new wave of bills is a calculation that while boycotts may be effective on a state-by-state scale, they will fall apart if many states enact such legislation.
The piece is definitely worth a read, as it outlines the proposed bills and headwinds each state faces in trying to get legislation passed. It also points to North Carolina’s losses from HB2 and notes that “the economic danger of such laws remains perhaps the most potent discouragement, even for policymakers who might sympathize with the goals of a bathroom bill.”