Sun. May 19th, 2024

Transgender activists flood Utah tip line with hoax reports to block bathroom law enforcement

By 37ci3 May8,2024



SALT LAKE CITY — Transgender activists have flooded a Utah-style hotline set up to alert state officials of possible violations of the new law. bathroom law with thousands of false reports to protect trans residents and their allies from any legal complaints that might lead to an investigation.

The attack left Utah Auditor John Dougall, the state official tasked with running the law’s tip line, stuck with the difficult job of sifting through bogus complaints while also facing backlash for enforcing a law he had no hand in passing.

“No auditor goes to an inspection so they can monitor the bathroom,” Dougall said Tuesday. “I think the legislature had better ways to address their concerns than this approach.”

Within a week of its launch, the online tip line had already received more than 10,000 submissions, none of which appeared to be legitimate, he said. The form asks people to notify public school staff who knowingly allow them to use a facility designated for the opposite sex.

Utah residents and visitors are required by law to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their birth gender in state-owned buildings. Starting last Wednesday, schools and agencies that do not enforce the new restrictions could be fined up to $10,000 per day for each violation.

While their advocacy efforts have failed to stop Republican lawmakers in many states from imposing restrictions on trans people, the community has been successful in intervening in the often ill-conceived enforcement plans attached to these laws.

In the hours after it was posted Wednesday night, trans activists and community members from across the U.S. shared Utah’s tip line widely on social media. Many shared their spam and encouraged others to follow suit.

Their efforts mark the latest attempt by advocates to shut down or disable a government tip line that they say has sowed division by prompting residents to turn on each other. Similar portals in at least five other states are also full of fake news, prompting state officials to shut down some.

In VirginiaIndiana, Arizona and Louisiana, activists filled tip lines set up to field complaints about teachers, librarians and school administrators who may have spoken to students about race, LGBTQ identities or other topics lawmakers claim are inappropriate for children. The Virginia tip line was discontinued within a year as a type line was introduced Missouri to provide information about gender-affirming health clinics.

Prominent trans activist and legislative researcher Erin Reed said there is a collective understanding in the trans community that filing these false reports is an effective way to challenge laws and protect trans people who may be targeted.

“There will be trans people going into the bathroom who are potentially flagged by these kinds of uniforms, and so the community plays a protective role,” Reed said. “If there are 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 form responses filed, it’s going to be very difficult for the auditor’s office to go through every one of them and find one legitimate trans person caught using the bathroom.”

The auditor’s office encountered many reports that Dougal described as “total nonsense” and what he said appeared to be credible at first glance and took longer to sift through. Its staff have spent the past week sorting through thousands of well-crafted complaints citing fake names or locations.

Despite their efforts to close the executive instrument mentioned in the bill, the sponsors, Rep. Kera Birkeland and Sen. Dan McCay said they are confident in the tip line and the auditor’s ability to filter out fraudulent complaints.

“It’s not surprising that activists take the time to send false reports,” Birkeland said. “But this is not a distraction from the importance of the legislation and the protections it provides to women in Utah.”

Morgan, a Republican, had pushed the policy as a security measure to protect the privacy of women and girls without evidence of threats or assaults by trans people.

McCay said he did not understand that activists were responsible for flooding the tip line. The Riverton Republican said he doesn’t plan to change how the law is enforced.

LGBTQ rights activists also argue that the law and its accompanying tip line give people the right to question anyone’s gender in community spaces, which can affect even non-trans people.

Their warnings were reinforced earlier this year when a Utah school board member was fired and later lost his bid for re-election. questions the gender of a high school basketball player thought he was transgender.



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By 37ci3

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