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Mississippi lawmakers move bill forward restricting where transgender people can use bathroom

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The Mississippi legislature took a step forward on Wednesday in its fight to clarify genders.

Senate Bill 2753, dubbed by Republican Sen. Josh Harkins of Flowood as the SAFER Act, was amended and passed by the House to restrict transgender people’s use of bathrooms and locker rooms in public buildings. For example, if the bill were to be enacted into law, a transgender woman who attends a public university would be required to use men’s rooms on campus.

Within the legislation, the text reads that people are either male or female “as observed or clinically verified at birth,” and this should be held up in public settings. The SAFER Act received no Democratic support but still passed the House with ease as Republicans hold a super majority in the chamber.

“We’re going to make sure boys go to the boys’ bathrooms and girls go to the girls’ bathrooms,” Republican Rep. Joey Hood of Ackerman said multiple times during the floor debate.

Democratic Rep. Zakiya Summers of Jackson, who is Black, considers the bill 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, unable to convince any Republicans to cross party lines.

The latest attempt by Mississippi Republicans to restrict transgender access in public sectors comes after a highly publicized incident in Alaska, in which a Planet Fitness staffer was assigned to assist a transgender client in the women’s locker room. Another gymgoer was banned from the same Planet Fitness in Fairbanks for posting a video of the transgender woman shaving her face in the women’s locker room, with backlash against the company leading to its value falling $400 million in five days.

If the amended SAFER Act is approved by the Senate, it will head to the desk of Gov. Tate Reeves. All indications point to Reeves being willing to sign the bill as he has previously implemented laws banning biological men from competing in women’s sports and minors from receiving gender-affirming care.

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