Arkansas Lawmakers Advance Bill Making It a Crime for Transgender People to Use the Restroom

By Adam Polaski • March 17, 2017 • 5:07 pm

Today in Arkansas, the House of Representatives advanced HB1986, which seeks to effectively criminalize transgender people from using public restrooms that align with their gender identity.


The bill is similar to HB2 in North Carolina and SB6 in Texas – but with an added, worse layer adding criminal penalties for transgender Arkansans. It’s an attack on transgender people, plain and simple, making it a punishable crime for transgender people to simply use the restroom.

Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said today:

“This blatant and deliberate attack on over 15,000 transgender Arkansans would make it a crime—punishable by prison time and a lifetime criminal record—for transgender people to meet one of the most basic human needs and use the restroom. If this bill becomes law, transgender people, as well as anyone who is simply suspected of being transgender, will have to live in constant fear that they will be interrogated, arrested, or even prosecuted and put in prison every time they simply need to use the restroom.

Keisling continued: “All around the country, legislators are looking at the disastrous impact North Carolina’s bathroom ban has had on its residents and its economy and saying, ‘We don’t want to do that to our state.’ Arkansans want their legislators to keep their eyes on the ball and focus on real problems facing real people. But the Arkansas House recklessly ignored the concerns that countless citizens and business leaders have raised, passing a bill that goes even further than North Carolina’s law by attaching serious, unconstitutional criminal penalties to the simple act of using the restroom. Now, the state Senate has the opportunity to push the breaks before this train wreck goes any further and defeat this harmful bill.”

HB1986 now advances to the Arkansas Senate, which could hear the bill as soon as Monday. Lawmakers should reject this senseless, shameful, and dangerous bill immediately.

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