This is really sad. And, I think a perfect example of how a certain interpretation of a 2,000 year old book can skew someone to view something as a “sin” or deviant. “Reality” TV “star” and perpetual mother, Michelle Duggar, a Baptist, has become a spokesperson against the city of Fayetteville, Arkansas’ proposed anti-discrimination ordinance that would allow transgender people to use the public facilities they feel most comfortable, safe and identify with.
The text of Michelle Duggar’s robocall: Hello, this is Michelle Duggar. I’m calling to inform you of some shocking news that would affect the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children. The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that would allow men – yes, I said men – to use women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only. I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child. Parents, who do you want undressing next to your daughter at the public swimming pool’s private changing area?
The SoundCloud audio:
It sounds like it’s very similar to the law signed here in Colorado nearly ten years ago. During the runup to the governor’s signature of Senate Bill 200 in 2008, there were lots of fear mongering from social conservatives who decried that this would open the doors to pedophiles to rape little girls. But, of course, that hasn’t happened. Last I heard, pedophiles don’t really need a law passed to do the awful things they do. According to The Transgender Law Center, public accommodation is defined as:
Any place that provides goods and services to the general public is considered a public accommodation. This includes restaurants, grocery stores, health clinics, hospitals, health clubs, homeless shelters and most social services. Transgender and gender nonconforming people often experience discrimination in their communities when accessing public accommodations including being refused service, being treated differently than their non-transgender peers, or being victims to harmful verbal and physical violence when simply trying to carry out their daily activities.
The key words here are carrying out their daily activities and mentioning that transgender or gender non-conforming people are often victims to harmful verbal and physical violence when trying to simply use a restroom or any other form of public accommodation. If I walked into a men’s restroom while wearing a dress, a little bit of makeup and with my hair down, I’d feel extremely unsafe and would greatly fear for my safety. When I walk into a women’s restroom, I feel safe and nobody seems to care.
Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams has responded to the criticism of this proposed ordinance in the Arkansas Times:
“The claim that this ordinance would provide predators with access to women’s restrooms in order to assault or leer at girls or women is nothing more than fear-mongering,” the statement read, in part. “This ordinance does allow transgender people to use the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable and physically safe. Transgender people — who are far more likely to be the victims of harassment and violence if forced to use a bathroom that is inconsistent with their gender identity or expression — deserve to have the ability to use the bathroom in peace and safety.”
This is basic civil rights. Being denied such because you have unfounded fears for the safety of your children is wrong. When I use a public women’s restrooms, I don’t make eye contact. I walk into a stall, close the door, and do my business. If I have to use a changing room, I don’t just strip down to nothing right there in the middle of the room. The reason? I’m not exactly proud of my body? I’m a pre-op transgender woman. I don’t want anyone to see what’s between my legs.
People like Michelle Duggar, who oppose these ordinances shows a shocking refusal to educate themselves about who transgender and gender non-conforming people are. Instead, they sit in church pews on Sunday and blindly listen to pastors spew hate mongering. Like I said in the beginning of this post, it’s just sad. These are seemingly smart and educated people. There are lots of public transgender people out there to talk to. There are books. There are medical professionals.
The following U.S. States and territories have anti-discrimination laws protecting transgender people:
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.
Also, at least 160 cities and counties around the country have passed their own laws prohibiting gender identity discrimination including Atlanta, Boise, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Louisville, Nashville, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh.
Where are many many stories of people being traumatized by the presence of transgender people using the correct public facilities? There’s a joke going around social media right now that most people don’t notice transgender people isn’t because we just blend in with everyone else. No. It’s because we’re ninjas. We don’t want to stand out. We just want to live our lives. Being quiet and just blending in is the safe thing to do. Nobody wants to be called out by fear mongers. It just ruins one’s day.
Choosing to bury your head in the sand says more about them then it does about me. I tend to generalize on religious people when it comes to these issues because the people who tend to fear monger and lobby against equal rights for LGBT people tend to be religious. But, that doesn’t mean that all religious people feel that way. To my great surprise, I’ve found lots of people who have a very personal spiritual faith and still fight for the equal rights of LGBT people. My former therapist is a very spiritual Jewish woman who dedicates her entire practice to people of the LGBT persuasion. And the woman I dated in high school belongs to a church here in Denver that donated time and money to help transgender people who didn’t have anywhere to go over the holidays. This makes my heart warm and reinstates some faith in humanity. But, I won’t stop fighting against Christians or anybody else who want to stand in between me and my civil rights. No matter the reason. Wrong is wrong. No matter where the belief comes from. In this country, you can believe whatever you want. Just don’t interfere with anyone else’s life.