Editor’s Thought Bubble: The cruelty is a feature, not a bug




The heartfelt pleas of parents who are downright scared for their children’s lives meant nothing to Republican legislators yesterday in the House Government and Elections Committee, as they brushed aside their concerns to make damn sure that government in Arizona will cruelly fail to recognize them for who they are.

The bill in question, as Laura Gómez reported, would bar governmental entities from describing people on official forms as anything other than male or female. Those forms already only include those options, but the legislation is aimed to blocking any future changes that would be more inclusive and acknowledge that we have neighbors who are transgender, non-binary or otherwise gender-nonconforming.

The comments from some of the Republicans were abhorrent. The bill’s sponsor, John Fillmore, said the requirement somehow would keep men out of women’s bathrooms and equated people struggling with gender dysphoria to someone who wants to pretend to be a barnyard animal. Jake Hoffman minimized the people affected, and said the bill would fix “a clerical error” in state law that doesn’t mandate bigotry.

A friend of mine who is non-binary told me that legislation like this, which is inherently anti-trans and anti-gender-nonconforming, presents a real and actual danger to people like them: “It scares me because it legitimizes stigma and violence against trans and GNC people.” And that’s particularly so for people like my friend, who were born male but don’t present as male. “Many women are used to having to be extra alert when out, for fear of violence. But if I’m out, there’s a huge risk. A person who may think twice about hurting a woman won’t have that same reservation about hurting a trans woman or GNC person born male, if they are presenting feminine.”

The legislation is cruel. Unfortunately, the cruelty is the point.

Jim Small
Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.