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Outlining the Revised Texas Bathroom Bill

By Peek & Toland on August 30, 2017

The Texas Bathroom Bill has made lurid headlines and promoted revisions as it progressed through the legislature.

However, the Bathroom Bill remains as confusing as it is controversial. Recently, an article in the Texas Tribune sought to explain it.

The Texas bill follows similar legislation in North Carolina. However, that state revised its bill while it was being discussed in the Texas legislature.

The bill also appeared to be languishing in Austin. It was under fire both from the LGBT community and business leaders who feared it would harm the economy of Texas.

However, in April the Senate rushed to approve the bill mandating that transgender Texans use public bathrooms corresponding to their birth certificate gender after an intervention by Governor Greg Abbott.

Controversial Texas bathroom bill is changed

Texas bathroom bill is amended

Abbott gave his support for the bill after the House said it would set aside the Senate’s bill. The House instead wanted to advance a bill prohibiting policies that sought to protect transgender rights in public bathrooms. Legislators did not specifically address birth certificate gender.

The changed bill in Texas remains controversial. An article on KUT.org compared the bill in the Lone Star State with North Carolina’s.

The bill in Texas regulates bathroom use in public facilities on the basis of “biological sex” as listed on a user’s birth certificate. The legislation would ban a majority of transgender people in Texas who have not amended their birth certificates from using a bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Both Texas and North Carolina base their bathroom regulations on “biological sex.” However, in a recent retreat in North Carolina, the language was changed to no longer specifically prohibit people from using a bathroom that aligns with their particular gender identity.

The North Carolina law no longer contains specific regulations that would regulate the bathroom transgender people are allowed to use. However, it still prevents localities drawing up bathroom policies, leaving the regulations to the state.

If the bathroom bill becomes law in Texas, there are many questions about how it would be enforced. The law sets out civil rather than criminal sanctions.

For instance, Under SB 6, the office of the Texas Attorney General would be able to investigate bathroom policy complaints against school districts or other governmental entities and decide whether to pursue related civil penalties.

When North Carolina’s bathroom act became law, many police departments were confused about it reported Mother Jones.

Some checked with their attorneys to determine whether they could arrest an individual who used the incorrect bathroom. Although the bathroom legislation was a civil law, some police discretion was inherent in it. Many departments said they would not enforce it. The Texas Bathroom Bill contained many uncertainties.

If your rights have been violated by the police or if you feel you have been wrongly arrested, it’s important to retain an experienced Austin criminal defense lawyer. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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ICE to Set up Texas Immigration Center to House Transgender Detainees

By Peek & Toland on July 21, 2016

A new immigration center in Texas will include a special unit for transgender detainees, highlighting some of the difficulties they face in these facilities.

A report in Inquisitr stated the Prairieland Detention Center will open in November in Alvarado in Texas and will be the second center to include a transgender unit.

ICE says it is expected to house about 700 detainees. There will be a segregated 36-bed unit for transgender occupants.

ICE plans for transgender unit in detention center are under fire

The agency points out each detainee will be given an individual detention plan that covers such things as clothing options, hygiene issues, searches and accommodation assignments.

These apparent safeguards have failed to satisfy advocates’ groups who claim transgender people are more vulnerable than the rest of the population and are more likely to be victims of sexual and physical assaults when they are held in detention facilities.

Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, an advocates group for LGBT immigrants, told the Guardian they “simply should not be in detention”.

Morris said putting most of one vulnerable group in a single facility raises serious issues of oversight.

There are also concerns about whether the safeguards would be put in place. Santa Ana city jail in Texas also has a specialized program for transgender people, but the Guardian reported it has yet to implement the specialist guidance that was published in a June 2015 memorandum.

How Many Undocumented Immigrants Are Transgender?

According to the UCLA Williams Institute, there are 267,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants in the United States. Between 15,000 and 50,000 are transgender, states the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Some of these immigrants come to the U.S. because they have faced persecution in their home nation, while others are looking for a better quality of life here. Interviews with transgender people suggest they are more likely to face discrimination than other immigrants once they are in the U.S.

Diverse cities such as Austin are magnets for  immigrants.  Austin became a “majority minority” city more than 10 years ago. The rush to build centers for these immigrants in Texas highlights the way the authorities are finally recognizing the rights of transgender people, but support groups say it doesn’t go far enough, and there is certainly a raft of concerns about how immigrants are treated in detention centers. This issue is part of the immigration reform debate in Texas.

If you have any questions about immigration in Texas, see our immigration FAQs, or call our experienced attorneys for a confidential consultation at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration

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