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Mississippi bill restricting where transgender people can use bathroom signed into law

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Legislation designed to clarify who can use what restroom in Mississippi has been signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves after a roundabout journey in the capitol.

The Securing Areas for Females Effectively and Responsibly (SAFER) Act did not meet a conference committee deadline, but as the old adage goes, nothing’s actually dead during the legislative session until the session is over. To bring the bill back to life, both the House and Senate passed a concurrent resolution suspending the rules so that lawmakers could pass the legislation once more and send it to Reeves for final approval.

Republican Sen. Josh Harkins introduced the SAFER Act back in February to restrict transgender people’s use of bathrooms and locker rooms in public buildings.

The legislation deems it necessary to provide male and female areas for each sex’s exclusive use. Lawmakers on the GOP side quickly voiced their support for the bill following an incident at a Planet Fitness gym in Alaska where a transgender individual identifying as a woman was spotted on video shaving in the women’s locker room.

Democratic Rep. Zakiya Summers of Jackson, who is Black, weighed in on the bill, calling it anti-transgender and aimed at a small portion of the population — reminding her of Jim Crow-era laws.

“It reminded me of what my ancestors had to deal with at a time when they couldn’t go in the bathroom either, and they wouldn’t dare stick their toe in a pool,” Summers said of the bill ahead of its initial passage.

Nonetheless, once revived, the SAFER Act cruised through both chambers, though it notably did not receive support from a single Democratic lawmaker.

In addition to enacting the most recent legislation serving to set a hard boundary between biological sex and gender identity, Reeves has signed similar bills into law in recent years including banning biological men from competing in women’s sports and minors from receiving gender-affirming care.

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