It’s a familiar refrain from the religious bloc accustomed to extraordinary privilege in American society: equality is discrimination, loss of privilege is persecution, and calling them out on intolerance is itself intolerant.
When North Carolina passed a “religious freedom” bill targeted at LGBT residents of the state, banning anti-discrimination ordinances and forcing “transgender people to use the bathroom of the opposite sex,” decent people everywhere were predictably disgusted. What those people didn’t realize is that they were the ones actually supporting discrimination.
As Salon’s Amanda Marcotte writes, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (guess which party. Go on, guess) has defended the move with a singular accusation: that letting transgender women use the bathroom that matches their gender identity is in fact discriminating against other women and girls.
“Well, our bill does not discriminate against anybody,” Forest said in flat lie to host Tony Perkins. “In fact, the Charlotte ordinance was amazingly discriminatory against especially women and girls who no longer had the freedom to walk into a restroom and know that they would be safe and secure in that restroom without a man walking in or a pedophile or a predator walking into that bathroom.”
As Marcotte notes, this is just not true: this is absolutely and only discriminating against transgender people. That’s the whole point of the provision.
But Forest’s argument is deeply flawed in another respect. Due to this law, North Carolina women will be sharing bathrooms with men. Because, just as transgender women will be forced to use men’s bathrooms, some men are going to be forced to use the women’s bathrooms. If Forest is really concerned that women have “the freedom to walk into a restroom and know that they would be safe and secure in that restroom without a man walking in”… he wouldn’t support a law that will ensure that this happens. Even if he thinks transgender men aren’t “real” men, then what happens when a visibly male transgender man walks into the women’s restroom? If he assumes the mere presence of a transgender woman (assuming that other women would or could even notice) in the same room is going to cause emotional discomfort, surely the presence of a man would have a similar impact — whether Forest believes the man in question is “really” a woman or not.
As far as implying actual danger, this is nothing but baseless fearmongering. Marcotte notes that the idea that letting people pee in the right restroom will endanger others is not only illogical, but also not backed up by the data.
States and cities who have passed anti-discrimination laws haven’t had a surge of men in dresses raping women. Rapists continue to operate just as they always have, mostly by targeting women they know and claiming afterwards the sex was consensual. And if they do get their jollies lurking in bathrooms for victims, it’s just easier to slip in when no one is looking than to draw attention to yourself by dressing like a woman. Also, real talk: It’s a lot easier to get other straight men to believe your “I’m not rapist, women are just lying sluts!” defense if you are not seen lurking around bathrooms in a dress.
None of this revolves around common sense or evidence, of course. It’s not about protecting women because women aren’t in danger (except, potentially, those women Forest and his ilk will force to use the men’s restroom). It’s certainly not about protecting people from discrimination. It’s about pushing anti-LGBT religious beliefs on the citizens, and degrading and punishing LGBT people.
(Image via Shutterstock)