It is no secret that the American south sometimes pushes for representatives and laws that are anti-LGBTQ. Much of the region is notorious for its antiquated views of anything outside of the heteronormative, Anglo-Saxon culture it has cultivated.
This pushback against LGBTQ people is especially prevalent in the state of Arkansas. While many remember the highly contested ‘bathroom bill’ in North Carolina, a new state is vying for the title of the most transphobic place to live in the USA. Since late 2017, Arkansas has had three bills in the running that will make it incredibly challenging to be trans, if not entirely illegal.
All three bills are in Sine Die adjournment, meaning that they will be stagnant for an indefinite time. This unknown future is worrisome for those who fear for their civil liberties and safety.
The bills in question are House Bill 1986, House Bill 1894, and Senate Bill 774.
House Bill 1986 is a bathroom bill very similar to the one that gained national attention and outcry as it ostracized trans people. It compares being trans in a public bathroom to indecent exposure. This will have legal consequences if a trans person uses the bathroom not of their gender at birth.
House Bill 1894 prohibits amending birth certificates once a baby has been assigned a gender. This issue is problematic for trans people as this potentially erases much of their identity and validity while the state will not recognize their transition.
Lastly, Senate Bill 774 , also known as the “Arkansas Physical Privacy and Safety Act,” is still a possible threat. This act would essentially grant legal protection for trans discrimination. It would allow private business to implement a policy that could exclude trans peoples, even denying them service.
While these bills are not currently on the floor, it is essential to know the status and the intent the state’s government has toward trans people.