Every time lawmakers float bills seeking to bar transgender people from using the bathrooms of their choice, the same crucial questions arise: How would such a measure be enforced? Who, exactly, would be there to make sure that people use facilities that correspond to their biological sex rather than their gender identity?
In Texas, the latest state to become embroiled in a fervent “bathroom bill” debate, a transgender woman sought to shine a light on those issues in a social media post that went viral this week and drew praise for its originality.
Ashley Smith, a San Antonio-based LGBT activist, posed for a picture with Gov. Greg Abbott (R) after a speech on Friday announcing his reelection campaign, as the Associated Press reported. The governor, who supports the state’s bathroom bill, appears in the photo smiling with his arm around Smith.
Over the weekend, Smith shared the image in a Facebook post with the hashtag #bathroombuddy. She identified herself as a trans woman and asked, “How will the Potty Police know I’m transgender if the governor doesn’t?” The post has since taken off, tallying thousands of likes and shares.
Smith told the San Antonio Express-News on Monday she wanted to protest the state’s bathroom bill, known as S.B. 6, without insulting or threatening the governor.
“I did not think shouting would work, or that I would be heard and was more interested in getting the photograph and not getting thrown out,” Smith said. “Once I had the photo, I was eager to get on social media just because I wanted to make a point.”
A representative from Abbott’s press office did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday.
Modeled after North Carolina’s controversial transgender bathroom legislation, Texas’s S.B. 6 would require transgender people in the state to use public restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates. The measure failed during the regular legislative session, but in early June, Abbott revived it by ordering a special 30-day legislative session to debate that bill and a host of others.
The session began on Tuesday and drew hundreds of protesters to the state capitol in Austin, many of them voicing opposition to the bathroom bill, local media reported. Others turned out in support.
Smith told the Express-News she has rallied against the legislation this year with her group Indivisible San Antonio.
“We’re about 1-in-300 people, we’re all over the place, we’re your friends and your neighbors,” Smith said. “Some of us are not immediately obvious as trans. And the idea that you are going to be able to enforce a bathroom bill, I mean the enforceability is just not there.”
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