Republican lawmakers in Tennessee on Wednesday filed a bill that some LGBTQ advocates claim unfairly targets transgender people, WTVF-TV reported.
State Rep. John Ragan introduced the measure that would expand indecent exposure offenses "to include incidents occurring in a restroom, locker room, dressing room, or shower, designated for single-sex, multi-person use, if the offender is a member of the opposite sex than the sex designated for use," according to the bill.
Ragan told WTVF that he filed House Bill 1151 with the safety of his young granddaughters in mind.
"This bill is about making sure that it is clear where certain behaviors are appropriate and others are not," he said. "The expectation is if you are in a restroom that is designated for your sex, you have an expectation of certain conditions."
What do the bill's opposers say?
Some LGBT advocates have pointed to a section in the bill that explicitly states that certain conditions — including gender dysphoria and gender confusion — would not serve as a defense to the crime.
"A medical, psychiatric, or psychological diagnosis of gender dysphoria, gender confusion, or similar conditions in the absence of untreated mental conditions such as schizophrenia, does not serve as a defense to the offense of indecent exposure," the bill states.
Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, said the bill's language is designed to criminalize transgender people.
"This bill is really a way of putting in a little bit of language that's very damaging to the transgender community," Sanders said. "It's really about criminalizing transgender people in certain kinds of public places."
Sanders claimed that the bill could cause someone to be charged with a misdemeanor crime if they use a restroom that doesn't match their designated sex at birth.
Tennessee law doesn't allow transgender persons to change the sex on their birth certificates.
What else did Ragan say?
Ragan defended the bill — which he said doesn't change the definition of indecent exposure or the level of the criminal offense, which can range from a Class B misdemeanor to a felony.
"It doesn't target them [transgender individuals]," Ragan told WTVF. "What it does is prevent them from using that as an excuse."
Sanders said HB 1151 is one of six filed this legislation session that the group has designated as the "slate of hate" bills.