I am a small business owner, and an investor in two businesses that offer accommodations to the public, and I am here to tell you that Republican elected officials in Austin and elsewhere are impediments to doing business in the State of Texas.
They are inserting business owners into the business of people who are, well, just trying to do their business.
Yes, while we grapple with school funding, crumbling roads and bridges, and uncertainty in the energy market, Republicans in the legislature want to talk about bathrooms.
The latest example is HB 1748, filed last Friday by Rep. Debbie Riddle, a Republican from Spring, a northern suburb of Houston. It would amend the law requiring that the “operator, manager, or superintendent of a public building, schoolhouse, theater, filling station, tourist court, bus station, or tavern” provide and maintain sanitary toilet facilities for use by the public to say that:
An operator, manager, superintendent, or other person with authority over a building described by Subsection (a) may not allow an individual who is at least seven years of age to repeatedly enter a locker room, shower facility, or toilet facility in the building that is designated for use by persons of a gender that is not the same gender as the individual ’s gender. A violation of this subsection is a state jail felony.
How, exactly, does the author of this bill expect business owners to avoid violating this law and being found guilty of a state jail felony?
If a woman comes into a business and goes into the women’s bathroom, a reasonable Texan would assume that person is a woman. Rep. Riddle, however, would make me, a business owner, responsible for ascertaining whether that person had, at birth, at least two X chromosomes, but not one X and one Y chromosome, before adjudicating which bathroom that person could use.
I humbly suggest that it is an overwhelmingly unreasonable burden on the small business owner’s ability to run a tavern, filling station, hotel, theater, or other public businesses to expect that person request a report on birth chromosomes from patrons wishing to use the toilet facilities.
Can you imagine the lines for the bathroom at Minute Maid Park or the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion as we wait to present our lab work?
This could shut down Buc-ee’s, and friends, that would be a tragedy of epic proportions.
Even more offensive would be the notion that business owners could be forced to figure out gender some other way, like requiring patrons to display their genitalia to gain access to the appropriate facility.
Most offensive of all would be the idea that we could be found guilty of a state jail felony if we allowed a woman dressed as a woman, but a woman who was born with X Y chromosomes, to use the women’s bathroom.
We’re not even going to delve into what chaos Rep. Riddle creates by specifying that this applies to “repeated visits.” Consider the multitude of health conditions, both chronic and acute, that might compel a person to make more than one trip to the facilities. Do you really want to be the arbiter of what constitutes a legal or illegal repeat visit when a fellow human has an urgent and compelling need?
This is Texas. We’re smart. We’re courteous. We value our privacy, and expect others to respect ours like we respect theirs.
Almost all of us, at a very early age, mastered the skill of using a bathroom without either exposing our genitals to anyone else or peeking at others’ taking care of their business. For those who haven’t mastered those skills, there are already adequate remedies in local and state criminal codes.
The Republican Party of Texas, of Rep. Debbie Riddle, is not the party of business. They are not conservative. They are not the party of small government, less government, or limited government.
They are declaring themselves, with this bill and others, to be the party that wants everyone to have access to what’s going on under your skirt.
I don’t think that’s very Texan.