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West Jordan Journal

Life and Laughter | Circling the drain

Apr 05, 2024 12:44PM ● By Peri Kinder

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I’m not sure what Utah legislators think happens in women’s restrooms, based on the ridiculous bathroom bill that was recently passed. Do they imagine we walk into a restroom, disrobe, dance around drinking martinis and chat like teenagers in a TV sitcom?

Otherwise, I can’t imagine why our “leaders” thought banning trans women from public bathrooms would protect my privacy. If there was a creepy man dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire, accosting women in the restroom, yes, that would be terrible. And it’s already illegal.

But I’m letting the legislators in on a little secret. Here’s what happens in a public restroom. I walk to the bathroom and wait in line (because there’s always a line). I make no eye contact with the women around me. When a stall is available, I scurry into it, do my business as quietly as possible and rush to wash my hands. I glance in the mirror to make sure there’s no popcorn stuck to my face, and I leave.

I wouldn’t know if there was a trans woman in the bathroom with me because (and hear me out) trans women are women. Legislators, you continue to create fear and disconnection. Stop it. 

This unenforceable law could mean we must carry a small copy of our birth certificate, next to the mini-Bible and a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution we’re already toting around. But…scanning my scriptures…I see one that reads, “Love thy neighbor.” Interesting. I don’t see an asterisk that explains *Unless your neighbor has a lifestyle of which you don’t approve. 

Speaking of protecting privacy, as the legislative session wrapped up last month, our “leaders” passed a law that blocks access to the daily calendar of elected officials. (I think they confuse “privacy” with “secrecy.”)

Imagine you hire an employee and tell them you’ll be tracking their work, checking their calendars and watching their emails. You want to see how they spend their time, who they hang with and if they’re misbehaving.

Then imagine that employee said you had no right to do any of that. That it’s none of your damn business. Well, you’d fire that employee in a heartbeat. Elected officials work for the people and we deserve to know what they do.

The Freedom of Information Act grants access to government records so the media and the public can see how the sausage is made. But Utah legislators continue to pass bills making government less transparent. It’s like painting over a window, one thin coat at a time.

In 2011, Utah’s governor and legislators were presented with the Black Hole Award by the national chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists because of a bill they passed (HB477) limiting access to government records. Five years later, Attorney General Sean Reyes received the same award from the Utah chapter. 

Sensing a theme?

Overall, the legislators passed nearly 600 bills this year, including one that eliminates Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs at universities and some government entities. That’s nice. As if Utah wasn’t white, wealthy, male and straight enough already.

And through a law signed by Gov. Spencer Cox, teachers are now encouraged to bring guns to school because how do we address a gun control problem in this country? More guns!

For a state that declares it’s against big government control, a lot of bills passed this year seem glaringly hypocritical. 

As the year goes along, I’m sure we’ll hear more from our “leaders” about book bans, school vouchers, revised history curriculum, church-protected abusers and the benefits of coal. Legislators seem just as clueless about those things as they are about women’s bathrooms.