Like many of you, I've had my personal bathroom run-ins. Snidely concerned citizens (aka, gender police) letting me know that I was in the "wrong bathroom" throughout my life (too butch as a woman, too fey as a man). And I've had my professional bathroom run-ins too. As the deputy director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in 2007, I verbally tussled with Capitol Hill police after they rudely ID'd and removed two transwomen from the Dirksen Senate Building's lady's room during--get this--NCTE's Lobby Day!
Which is all by way of introduction to two current nondiscrimination law "repeal" (or disinformation) efforts happening in Colorado and Montgomery County, Maryland, that have me spitting mad.
In June Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law a bill that outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In doing so, Colorado joined 12 other states and the District of Columbia.
And closer to my home, last fall Maryland's DC-adjacent Montgomery County Council passed an inclusive anti-discrimination measure only to see the so-called "Citizens for Responsible Government" mobilize a fear-soaked signature gathering effort to repeal it.
These laws are aimed at curbing discrimination against all LGBT people in the critical areas of housing, employment and public accommodations. I don't have to tell you that they provide real, and much needed, legal protections. But, in both Colorado and Montgomery County, groups like Focus on the Family and Citizens for Responsible Government can only see the chimera of rabid, perverted, rape-minded transgender people.
Never mind that there has never been one reported case of a transperson sexually assaulting anyone in a bathroom. Or that violent predators are loath to consider the nuance of local anti-discrimination laws before committing a crime. Or the myth that sex-segregated bathrooms provide any type of protection for women--or men. Or that the legalese "public accommodation" may or may not even apply to restrooms.
After my venti ice coffee, I just want to pee, people. And I want to wash my hands afterward and get back to work. But FOF and their ilk would like to use the general public's (ever diminishing) fear and ignorance surrounding transpeople to rollback hard-won civil rights for all LGBT folks. By running misleading radio and print ads like the one above, they create a climate of fear stoked by rhetoric that paints us perverts and rapists.
Focus on the Family's James Dobson says, "Henceforth, every woman and little girl will have to fear that a predator, bisexual, cross-dresser or even a homosexual or heterosexual male might walk in and relieve himself in their presence."
The laws that are at stake are about so much more than the red herring of Ally McBeal bathrooms--which looked pretty fun anyway. Advocates in each of these states have organized to keep our policy victories in place. If you are in Colorado or Montgomery County, I urge you to get involved in the campaigns to fend off these bone-headed repeals. If you're not, please consider making a donation to them.
Equal Rights Colorado
Basic Rights Montgomery