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Transgender Rights And The Sudden Conservative Obsession With Bathrooms

Gender Neutral Restroom Sign
A North Carolina law that purports to ban trangender from using restrooms corresponding to their gender identity has become the latest “social issues” flashpoint in the race for the Republican nomination for President:

Transgender rights have become an unlikely and heated issue in the presidential campaign after North Carolina enacted a law that, among other things, mandated that people use the restroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate.

Cruz has seized on Trump’s assertion that the North Carolina law, which also rolled back other protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people, was unnecessary and bad for business — corporations including PayPal and Deutsche Bank scrapped plans to create jobs in the state after the legislation was enacted. Trump said there has been “little trouble” with allowing people to use the restroom they want, though he later said that states should have the power to enact their own laws. Trump also said he would let transgender reality-television star Caitlyn Jenneruse the women’s restroom at his properties.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he probably wouldn’t have signed the North Carolina law, while both Democratic candidates have condemned it.

“There’s been a significant amount of conversation about it on the presidential level,” said Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, who said 50 anti-transgender bills have been filed nationwide this year. “In terms of it being new territory, the answer is yes.”

Cruz’s argument centers on the idea that allowing transgender women to use women’s restrooms would lead to deviants dressing up as women and preying on young girls. His campaign released an ad accusing Trump of capitulating to the “PC police” and asking viewers whether a grown man pretending to be a woman should use a restroom with your daughter or wife.

“Donald Trump thinks so,” the ad reads.

Cruz has woven his support of North Carolina’s law into his stump speech. There has been some backlash: A woman holding a “Trans lives matter” sign protested outside of a stop Cruz made in Allentown, Pa., on Friday.

“As the father of two young girls, I can tell you it doesn’t make any sense to allow adult grown men strangers to be alone in a bathroom with little girls,” Cruz said at a rally here, drawing loud applause from the crowd.

He called Trump’s views on transgender people “political correctness on steroids.”

“Evil!” a woman in the crowd yelled.

President Obama weighed in on the issue Friday from Britain, which issued a travel advisory warning residents about the North Carolina law and another enacted in Mississippi that allows businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds.

“I want everybody here in the United Kingdom to know that the people of North Carolina and Mississippi are wonderful people,” said Obama, who also took a question from a person who claims no gender. “I also think that the laws that have been passed there are wrong and should be overturned.”

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have forcefully condemned the laws, and Sanders said he would overturn them if elected president.

(…)

Cruz said that if the law allows for a man to enter “a little girl’s restroom, and stay there and he cannot be removed because he simply says at that moment he feels like a woman, you’re opening the door for predators.”

Don Uber, a 69-year-old accountant from Apollo, Pa., agrees with Cruz. Uber, who has a 2-year-old granddaughter, said he is more concerned about male sexual predators dressing up as women and going into women’s restrooms with girls than he is about predators using men’s rooms near boys.

“They’re going to have other men in there that can protect the boys,” Uber said. “It’s our duty as men to be protectors, and opening up [women’s] bathrooms to men is failing our responsibilities.”

Uber said he believes the law will just allow men to walk into women’s rooms.

“You don’t even have to cross-dress. You can go in in a business suit and say, ‘I define myself as a female,’ and they’re okay with that,” he said.

To a large degree, of course, the rhetoric we’re hearing from Ted Cruz and others on this issue, which plays right into the paranoia expressed in Mr. Uber’s idea that laws allowing the transgendered to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity to loiter in a women’s restroom and sexually assault a woman or young girl, is simply the latest example of Republican pandering to the religious right and the GOP base on a social issue. Up until the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the marriage issue and the supposed threat of same-sex marriage to “the institution of marriage” served the purpose of being the issue that Republicans would use to rally this particular part of the party, but with that issue basically off the table for all intents and purposes, they’ve been forced to move on to something else that can serve a a rallying cry for the “culture war” that has been a part of the rhetoric of the religious right since the days of the so-called “Moral Majority” and Jerry Falwell.

To some extent, the same-sex marriage dog whistles continue in the form of “religious liberty” laws that purport to give private businesses and, in some cases, public employees, exemption from otherwise generally applicable laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation, but in recent months one can notice a decided trend on the right that seems rather bizarrely obsessed with the issue of which bathroom someone is using. One of the first signs of this came in Houston, where a group of ministers united to seek to overturn a law that barred discrimination based on sexual or gender identity. That campaign finally succeeded this past November thanks in no small part to a campaign that included utterly bizarre and paranoid assertions that the law would allow child molesters to follow little girls into bathrooms and put women at risk of being sexually assaulted. The fact that there appears to be little, if any evidence, of cases where attackers have claimed to be transgendered in order to gain access to an opposite sex bathroom suggests not only that this campaign is not based in reality, but that it is in fact based in paranoia, misunderstanding, and a refusal to accept the idea that transgendered people may simply be different from the rest of us somehow and that they deserve the same amount of dignity and respect as any other member of society. This includes allowing them to use the restroom that corresponds to the gender they identify with and around which they have built their lives, regardless of what it might say on their birth certificate.

In reality, of course, laws such as the one at issue in North Carolina are utterly silly and unenforceable. How, exactly, are authorities going to determine that everyone who enters the ladies room in a public building is, in fact, someone with a double-x chromosome? Will everyone in the Tarheel State be required to carry their birth certificate around in case the Bathroom Police need to verify their gender? Or, will their be mandatory genital inspections? The answer, of course, is that there really won’t be any enforcement of this law because the law is inherently unenforceable. Instead, the major impact of this law is likely to be cause embarrassment to someone that people suspect might be transgendered, and to put transgendered people at risk of assault even if they try to comply with the law. Someone who was born male, for example, but is now a transgendered woman would have to use the men’s room even though they look for all the world like a woman, and this could potentially put them at risk of physical assault. The same risk applies to someone who was born female but is now a transgendered male. How putting people at risk solves any problems at all is beyond me, but then it’s clear that people on the right who consider this an issue worth fighting over don’t necessarily care about those types of victims of their supposedly well-intentioned laws.

There is, admittedly, one area where the issue of transgendered people and access to restroom facilities is at least somewhat complicated, and that is when it comes to public schools. Last year,  the Department of Education took the position that a Chicago-area school district violated Federal laws when it denied a transgender student access to the girls bathroom and showers on the ground that they were still biologically and physically male and that doing so would make other students feel uncomfortable and unsafe. In reality, the state of the law in this area is nearly as clear-cut as the Obama Administration contends it is as Courts have ruled in the past that, among other things, current Federal laws such as Title IX may not apply to transgender students at all, meaning that changes would need to be made to those laws to provide them with the coverage that the Department of Education is claiming here. Just last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a transgender teen who whose born female can proceed with a lawsuit against their local school board over the issue of bathroom access in a ruling that largely accepted the legal arguments that the Department of Education made in the Chicago case. This case will no doubt be appealed, though, and we could see a Supreme Court ruling on this issue within the next year or two depending on how long the rest of the appeals process lasts. Leaving the legal issues aside, though, there are obviously some concerns on both sides of the equation that need to be considered when dealing with this issue and how it impacts both the transgender child and their classmates, though. Politically speaking, though, it’s cases like this involving children that are likely to exploited by politicians like Ted Cruz when they pander to the fears on the part of voters that are generally based more on fear and ignorance than anything else.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. john430 says:

    Boy, I’m with Cruz on this one. Perverts hanging around waiting for little girls and rowdy teens crashing in? No thanks.

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  2. steve says:

    Men dressing up like women to hang out in women’s bathrooms? They can do that now if they want, or 20 years ago for that matter. How does being transgendered affect that? Really, if your goal is to be a pervert and hang out with girls, why not skip the gender stuff and just dress up. Cheaper and easier.

    Steve

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  3. anjin-san says:

    @john430:

    Ummmm. Yea. The GOP frontrunner openly lusts after his own daughter and you are worried about perverts?

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  4. C. Clavin says:

    @john430:
    I’m shocked, shocked, that you would agree with that f’ing nutjob, Cruz.
    I mean…he thinks a single celled organism is a person. So of course you go along with his insanity.

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  5. C. Clavin says:

    As Chris Wallace of Fox News said:

    “…this seems to be a solution in search of a problem.”

    Just like Republican efforts to stop voting fraud…another non-existent problem that requires serious measures to fix.

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  6. Jen says:

    One of Clairol’s most important models during the 1970s was Tracy Norman. Her face was on the box of their hair color, and she modeled for years in New York. She is also transgender. No one knew for decades. I am quite sure that if she had walked into a men’s room, people would have told her she was in the wrong facility.

    More dog-whistle nonsense from Cruz & Co. People just wanting to get worked up over something, anything. It’s getting old quickly.

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  7. C. Clavin says:

    I get the Republican obsession about this, however…the party is made up of closeted gays like Larry Craig…and they want to be sure about who they are hitting on in bathrooms……

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  8. anjin-san says:

    @Jen:

    Just a sidebar – years ago I had a co-worker who’s daughter was a very successful model. She was even on a box of Miss Clairol’s “Cover the Gray” formula.

    She was 17 at the time.

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  9. Andre Kenji says:

    I´m so glad that I don´t live in North Carolina. I would not want to see a transgender woman seeing me peeing.

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  10. Rafer Janders says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    I would not want to see a transgender woman seeing me peeing.

    But you would be comfortable with having a curvy, busty, long-haired, skirt-wearing, male-to-female transsexual, someone who, as Doug notes, looks like most other women, watch you? Because that’s what this law requires.

    It’s total idiocy.

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  11. Tony W says:

    Politically speaking, though, it’s cases like this involving children that are likely to exploited by politicians like Ted Cruz when they pander to the fears on the part of voters that are generally based more on fear and ignorance than anything else.

    From what I can tell nobody is worried about little boys being molested.

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  12. Rafer Janders says:

    One reason for the right’s sudden obsession with bathrooms is of course that they’ve lost on so many other battles, so this is all they’ve got left. They lost on segregation and Jim Crow. They lost on equal rights for women. They lost on the sodomy laws and homosexuality. They lost on gay marriage.

    But they’ve got this overwhelming urge to discriminate*, and if it can’t be satisfied by stopping women from working or African-Americans from voting or gays from getting married, well, by god, it’s going to be satisfied by making transsexuals feel uncomfortable when they use the bathroom.

    *If Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time, perhaps conservatism is, deep down, the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is not being oppressed.

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  13. KM says:

    What’s so incredibly weird about this whole thing is its a male-driven fear appeal to women with very little understanding of what actually happens in a women’s restroom. You see, we have closed stalls with doors and use them exclusively; you don’t tend to share a stall unless you have a young child with you or you’re up to no good so to speak. Once that door is closed, you will never know what your neighbor has downstairs and frankly 99.9% of women have never given a ^#&* (pardon the pun). You don’t see anything… unlike you could in the men’s room. So when these lawmakers says you could see genitals, they are basing it on their experience, not what ladies typically deal with. And if the complaint is we can be stalked and trapped in there, then what’s to stop it from happening right now other then a sign on the door? Women’s rooms are rarely empty; do they think we wouldn’t notice if something like that went down or wouldn’t intervene/call for help?

    The gendering doesn’t stop there: They speak of protecting “women and children” but what about the little boys? Moms can’t take their sons into the restroom now, leaving them at the mercy of older strange men in the men’s room. Since statistically that’s where the pedophiles are more likely to be found (overwhelmingly male), this seems like lawmakers carelessly sacrificed the safety of young boys to put unnecessary fear into young girls.

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  14. steve s says:

    good post doug.

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  15. Tyrell says:

    “A significant amount of conversation about it at the presidential level”: and just why is that ? Why is the news media pushing this story so much ? Why are politicians talking about this ? Once again, the people’s attention is being diverted and re-positioned.Just think about it: politicians and news people spending their time talking about restrooms.
    Keep your attention on what is going on away from this main stream news “event”.

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  16. M. Bouffant says:

    @Rafer Janders: No one I know “watches” anyone else urinate in the men’s room. Is this something you like to do?

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  17. steve s says:

    Why is the news media pushing this story so much ? Why are politicians talking about this ?

    Because a bunch of GOP politicians are trying to be the Pee-Pee Police.

    Any other simple questions you need answers to?

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  18. James Pearce says:

    The fact that there appears to be little, if any evidence, of cases where attackers have claimed to be transgendered in order to gain access to an opposite sex bathroom

    I would really like to be in the courtroom when an accused sex-offender cites some city’s anti-discriminatory law in their defense. “Not guilty by reason of your equal rights ordinance.”

    It’s also not surprising where this obsession has suddenly cropped up. Idle hands and all that. (Let’s be honest….if you’re spending any energy on keeping transgendered people out of the “wrong” bathroom, either you’ve accomplished all the important stuff on your to-do list, or you’re just screwing around, wasting time and energy.)

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  19. Rafer Janders says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    No one I know “watches” anyone else urinate in the men’s room. Is this something you like to do?

    Hey, we’ve all got our thing….

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  20. grumpy realist says:

    Yes, The Usual Suspect over at TAC has been posting ever-increasingly hysterical articles about this. From the comments made by the socons, one gets the impression that a) all transgender women stop short of full transition and just love to run around naked in women’s dressing rooms with their unconverted dicks hanging out, b) transgender women look EXACTLY like men in drag, and c) all transgender individuals are horribly warped people who are totally going against Revealed Truth by having transitioned in the first place and one’s chromosomes determine your gender forever without fail, Amen.

    100 years ago these people would have been in hysterics about the Unnaturalness of women’s suffrage, methinks.

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  21. Tyrell says:

    @steve s: Trivial. This sort of story used to wind up on the newspaper 12-F section as filler beside the”eczema” and “Dog Almost Itches To Death” ads and under the birth announcements. A politician kissing a pig has more newsworthiness.

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  22. Pch101 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    they’ve got this overwhelming urge to discriminate

    That’s it in a nutshell. They demand a hierarchy that honors them as being more virtuous and deserving than others. They can’t win unless others lose.

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  23. steve s says:

    i agree that GOP politicians pointlessly hurting people is hardly news at this point.

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  24. Gustopher says:

    Once you get to discriminating against the transgender population, you really have hit rock bottom. There aren’t enough of them to make it worth your while, are there? How often in your life would you get to feel superior? Do most people even encounter one a week?

    This entire thing stinks of the conservatives desperately wondering “who will I have left to hate?”

    It’s barely more effective than discriminating against lizard people riding unicorns. You’re just not going to be able to get your hate on.

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  25. Blue Galangal says:

    @C. Clavin: *koffHastertkoff* (And speaking of media attention, it’s interesting how little attention the whole Hastert thing is getting… including the Republicans who wrote letters to the judge claiming the poor dear man has suffered enough requesting that he only receive probation.)

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  26. gVOR08 says:

    @Pch101:

    They demand a hierarchy that honors them as being more virtuous and deserving than others.

    I keep commenting that for conservatives nothing is really about what it’s about. This is what 90% of conservatism is really about, feeling yourself to be one of the elect.

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  27. gVOR08 says:

    Jonathan Haidt talks about Six Moral Foundations – with Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity being important to conservatives, but not particularly to liberals or libertarians. This bathroom issue revolves around “Sanctity” also referred to as purity. And reading Dreher at TAC over lunch, this is a big enough deal to them that I think reasonable accommodation to them, at least in public schools, is in order.

    And the Loyalty and Authority things are why I expect the GOPs to line up dutifully behind Trump.

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  28. DrDaveT says:

    Someone who was born male, for example, but is now a transgendered woman would have to use the men’s room even though they look for all the world like a woman, and this could potentially put them at risk of physical assault.

    For proponents of these laws, this is not a bug — it’s a feature. They get a twofer — they get to look like they’re defending The Purity of God’s Gender Decrees to the base, and they get to make it more likely that transgendered women get beaten to death now and then.

    It would be fascinating to ask one of them publicly where the balance point is for them — how many transgendered beatings/deaths would it take to more than offset one assault against a “normal” person?

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  29. bill says:

    i can’t believe people are getting all riled up about bathrooms- there’s usually a sign on each one and it denotes what sex you are (not “want to be” or “identify” as). if you look like a chick and have a dick then maybe nobody will care….or if you’re a diesel dyke in the mens room-same deal.
    i’ve seen plenty of chicks in the mens room and i do’t care either way.
    the insane uproar from the chronically upset crowd is really funny though….i mean really, .3% of the population and everyone’s up in arms about this like there’s some war on tranny’s or something.

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  30. M. Bouffant says:

    Well, this “proves” the Toilet Police were right.

    To justify anti-trans bathroom laws, seizing on unrelated incidents is essential. That is because “there has never been a verifiable, reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person, nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them.”

    Experts from around the country have debunked the myth that “sexual predators will exploit transgender non-discrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms.”

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  31. James Pearce says:

    @gVOR08:

    And reading Dreher at TAC over lunch, this is a big enough deal to them that I think reasonable accommodation to them, at least in public schools, is in order.

    Curious to hear about this. Reasonable accommodation to who?

    (Checked out some Dreher, specifically his post called “Goodbye, Public Schools,” and I totally reject his complaints, and more than that, his interpretation of Christian sexuality.)

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  32. Davebo says:

    @bill:

    i can’t believe people are getting all riled up about bathrooms

    The answer is simple. It’s because your fellow idiots are extremely gullible. SATSQ

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  33. Samantha says:

    To me, this an issue playing off of fears to manipulate people into something irrational.

    Let’s see, which is more likely to be a problem? The odd 1% of the population who is so displaced they don’t even have a proper restroom? Or people “checking for genitalia?” Mmmm, yea, I can just see males doing the checking at women’s rooms.

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  34. Tyrell says:

    @steve s: Big D says that people should be able to go any restroom that they want. (NYT).

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  35. DrDaveT says:

    @bill:

    i can’t believe people are getting all riled up about bathrooms- there’s usually a sign on each one and it denotes what sex you are

    I can’t believe you got to be this old without ever figuring out the difference between sex and gender.

    BTW, which bathroom do you propose to require XXY people to use?

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  36. MarkedMan says:

    This IS the Republican Party. They don’t work on jobs or healthcare or climate change or privacy laws or energy independence or anything else of import. The modern Republican leader works on prayer in school and abortion and trans people using an inappropriate bathroom and whether Obama moved a bust of Churchill. The Republicans who could actually tackle a real issue have retired or been primaries by the Tea Party.

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  37. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @James Pearce: Well, I wish that Mr. Dreher were correct about the problem being a while away for the public schools, but alas, one of the districts that I teach in has a one page policy statement and a three page policy procedures document dealing with sexual identity issues. While I wish that I lived in a place where no one had any confusions at all, for the most part, the policy and procedures are pretty straightforward (no pun intended) and common sense–basically, don’t say and do things that cause the students to become embarrassed (that one was made really clear to me one day when a young woman came up to me and quietly asked me to be sure that when I came to “Matilda Jones” that I remember that “his” name is now “Alex”), don’t refer to them as “trannys,” and other similar points that we would not tolerate if we were targeted with such.

    To the best of my knowledge, the main thing that has changed is that some of the small restrooms that were reserved for faculty use have been changed to all-gender bathrooms that for which the users can lock the door for their privacy. The district hasn’t closed down the boys and girls changing rooms for P.E. nor did it close the conventional single-gender restrooms with multiple toilets (and privacy doors for the sit down toilets and privacy barriers between the urinals) or any of the other stupid stuff that Dreher seems to think goes with the change.

    But the district does have a problem to address. Last week, a student left me a flyer that features a Confederate battle flag, a coiled copperhead snake (as in “don’t tread on me” I assume) and the legend “Drive the fags out of Kelso.” Just what we needed. I got it from the student who created it, and apparently, he thought that exercising his first amendment rights by sharing his handiwork with me was a good idea. (Sigh)

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  38. john430 says:

    @Rafer Janders: Minor correction here, Rafe—Democrats were the Jim Crows and the KKK members, not Republicans. More Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than did Democrats.

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  39. jd says:

    For conservatives it’s *always* been about bathrooms. Jim Crow (they have different diseases than we do), ERA (women will use whatever bathroom they want), and now transgender people. Conservatives will always take the battle to the bathrooms because that’s where they can scare the most people.

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  40. jd says:

    I appreciate all the supportive things being said in this post, but I wanted to point out that ‘transgendered’ is not a word. From the stylebook of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association:

    ‘Do not use “transgendered.” Offensive when used as a noun; use “transgender people,” “transgender man” or “transgender woman.” In cases where space is an issue, such as headlines, using “trans” as a shorthand adjectival form is acceptable.’

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  41. rachel says:

    @john430:

    Democrats were the Jim Crows and the KKK members, not Republicans. More Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than did Democrats.

    So sad the Repubs are now what the Dems used to be.

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  42. Pch101 says:

    They have a name for the kind of Republicans who support liberal causes such as civil rights: RINOs. And those kinds of people have since been driven out of the Republican party.

    Oh, the irony.

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  43. Gustopher says:

    @rachel: it’s always sad when someone wmilates your flaws rather than your strengths. Worse still when they try to beat you over the head with it.

    We know who Stormfront folks vote for these days — it’s the party of Lincoln.

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  44. Kylopod says:

    @john430:

    Minor correction here, Rafe—Democrats were the Jim Crows and the KKK members, not Republicans.

    Rafe never said Republicans were the ones who pushed Jim Crow; the term he used was “the right.” Those aren’t the same thing. Supporters of Jim Crow in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s were mostly Democrats, but they were right-wing Democrats, which is why most of them eventually became Republicans after the realignment that the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 resulted in.

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  45. Monala says:

    @john430: not true. 46 Democratic Senators and 153 Democratic Reps voted for (total 199), and 21and 91 against, respectively (total 112). On the Republican side, their numbers were 27 and 136 for [total 163) and 6 and 35 against (total 41). So a greater percentage of Republicans than Dems voted for the CRA, but not a greater number.

    The real breakdown was South vs. North, and not political party. The vast majority of Southern legislators voted against it, and the vast majority of Northern legislators voted for it. However, even then, more Democrats than Republicans voted for civil rights (by number and percentage) in each region.

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  46. Davebo says:

    @john430: Are you just phoning it in or is this really the best you can do?

    Because if the latter is correct, that’s just pathetic.

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  47. mike shupp says:

    What’s funny as hell is that the conservatives losing their minds over this bathroom business are utterly convinced that they are being calm and reasonable, and that the whole issue has been brought on by a sudden liberal fit of transsexual-loving insanity — no doubt inspired by the tens of millions of votes liberals hope to get this fall from transsexuals.

    It’s also funny as hell that precisely the same pols pushing this frenzy about sexual perverts molesting children in schoolroom lavatories have been jumping up and down to defend the honor and repute of that great statesman Dennis Hastert, who has been sentenced to prison for lying about payments to conceal the truth about … molesting children in school facilities.

    Thank the Lord! Life would be so dull and bland without Republicans.

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  48. James Pearce says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    Well, I wish that Mr. Dreher were correct about the problem being a while away for the public schools, but alas, one of the districts that I teach in has a one page policy statement and a three page policy procedures document dealing with sexual identity issues.

    What’s “the problem” though?

    Transgendered people pooping? Transgendered people existing? I’m just trying to understand why the restroom thing is such a problem for people who aren’t a) transgendered themselves or b) prejudiced against the LGBT community.

    If you reject the sexual predators arguments (most of them being made in bad faith), and you’re not scandalized by Caitlyn Jenner using the ladies room, who gives a shit?

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  49. gVOR08 says:

    @James Pearce: I didn’t have anything very firm in mind, but pretty much what @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: talked about. Small, private unisex bathrooms available, and don’t make a big deal out of it. And make it clear that if you have a small High School in Lower Hogwaller TX and no one has come out as trans, you don’t do anything.

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  50. Franklin says:

    @DrDaveT: To be fair, I didn’t know the difference until a few years ago. Like, less than a decade ago. Someone I knew before that probably tried explaining it, but I didn’t really get it until later.

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  51. Tyrell says:

    @James Pearce: The problem may be the cross dressers and transvestites. How does this affect them ? No one has said.
    It would have been better if the governor and MC legislators had not got into this and just let Charlotte work it out. Let this be decided at the local levels. The federal and state governments need to stay out, and also the judges.

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  52. J-Dub says:

    Thank God there will be no morebathroom molestations now that the (wide-stance) GOP has made it illegal. I remember when rape stopped as soon as they passed laws against it.

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  53. Pch101 says:

    It should be noted that the focus of the law is not on bathrooms in public facilities, but on restricting the right of cities and counties to have anti-discrimination provisions that are more stringent than those of the state. (If liberal policies are going to come from anywhere in North Carolina, then they will be at the local level.)

    The conservatives were smart: The first section of the law addresses bathrooms. Presumably, most people don’t read far enough to see that the bathroom aspect of the law is a bit of a decoy tactic to distract you from what is really happening here.

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article68401147.html

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  54. Tony W says:

    @Tyrell: None of this affects anybody – it’s just the Right working hard to identify some “other” to demonize, as always.

    There aren’t (and never have been) armed guards at the restroom door doing underwear checks.

    This from the same people who think “Gun Free Zone” signs are ridiculous.

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  55. Tony W says:

    @Pch101: Funny, I thought conservatives were all about local control.

    The veneer is peeling…

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  56. steve s says:

    Over our history, the subject of bathrooms has often been the “go-to” argument for conservatives who fought against civil rights. During the Jim Crow days, Southerners went to elaborate lengths to provide separate bathrooms for white and “colored” people – even installing them in their own homes for The Help.

    I’m old enough to remember the days when the Equal Rights Amendment was under discussion. Conservatives dubbed that one the “Common Toilet Law.” All of the ways that amendment would have granted equal rights to women were reduced to a fear of unisex bathrooms.

    I suppose it would be possible for some social psychologist to explain the underlying issues that lead to this conservative fixation on bathrooms. It simply strikes me as a very unhealthy phenomenon. But more importantly, it is a huge distraction from the issue at hand…equal rights.

    -nancy letourneau

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  57. Pch101 says:

    @Tony W:

    Conservatives are fond of “states rights” because state governments are the most likely to slow down progress. If change is going to come, then it will probably begin either at the top (the feds) or the bottom (liberal local enclaves.) North Carolina is using this law to address the latter.

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  58. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101: Social conservatives have always been inconsistent when it comes to “states rights.” You can see it by their embrace of constitutional amendments making nationwide bans on activity they oppose: the Flag Desecration Amendment, the Human Life Amendment, and of course the Federal Marriage Amendment.

    DOMA masqueraded as a law protecting states rights rather than one instituting a nationwide ban on gay marriage, but in fact it attempted to define marriage at the federal level–which is why it was eventually struck down.

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  59. ASK says:

    New to presidential politics, hardly new locally. In Maryland, this issue dates back to at least 2014. The state GOP tried unsuccessfully to make an issue of it when transgender protection legislation passed, citing essentially the same arguments:

    “Pedophiles and sexual predators are clearly mentally ill. All they must do now is to claim that they are in the women’s bathroom or locker room because they have a, “sincerely held belief” that they are a woman. This is terrible policy and law making. I vigorously opposed this bill and voted against it.” —K. Szelinga

    http://www.daggerpress.com/2014/04/16/del-szeliga-what-sb-212-really-does-is-jeopardize-the-safety-of-women-and-little-girls-by-allowing-predators-and-pedophiles-access-to-the-womens-bathrooms/

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  60. Pch101 says:

    @Kylopod:

    They complain about “judicial activism” while pushing for the Heller decision (which snubs the idea of local control with arguments that rely upon the sort of historical revisionism that Orwell warned us about.) It’s as if 1984 was intended to be an instruction manual.

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  61. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Truthfully, this is no more about bathrooms than it was about water fountains in the 1960s …

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  62. gVOR08 says:

    @steve s:

    I suppose it would be possible for some social psychologist to explain the underlying issues that lead to this conservative fixation on bathrooms.

    Jonathan Haidt took shot at it with Moral Foundations Theory. Said six things are the foundations of our moral feelings, and that there are differences in their importance to liberals, conservatives, and libertarians. Conservatives are big on “sanctity or purity”, under which bathroom functions fall. This really is, at a gut level, very important to them.

    Sorry about largely repeating this from yesterday, but I think it does help explain what we see as conservative over-reaction.

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  63. James Pearce says:

    @gVOR08:

    Small, private unisex bathrooms available, and don’t make a big deal out of it. And make it clear that if you have a small High School in Lower Hogwaller TX and no one has come out as trans, you don’t do anything.

    I agree with this and think I may have misunderstood you earlier.

    @Tyrell:

    Let this be decided at the local levels. The federal and state governments need to stay out, and also the judges.

    This approach, while it may seem like a good way to “split the baby,” just seems like a way to make sure pockets of prejudice continue to exist. There is room for compromise, but don’t expect that to look like “These rules for me, those rules for you.”

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  64. James Pearce says:

    @gVOR08:

    Conservatives are big on “sanctity or purity”, under which bathroom functions fall. This really is, at a gut level, very important to them.

    Acknowledging and even agreeing with this, I have to ask, why should we satisfy a conservative’s need for “sanctity and purity” but ignore the liberal’s need for “care” and “fairness” and “liberty?”

    Considering that what one considers pure or sacred is really quite subjective, shouldn’t we be comfortable telling conservatives that we need a better reason than that?

    For what it’s worth, I think most conservative know that their personal opinions on what’s sacred is not enough to pull this crap. That’s why you hear all this stuff about sexual predators.

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  65. gVOR08 says:

    @James Pearce: I guess I’m trying to say that we liberals, as the adults in the room, should be trying to do what’s necessary without generating any more conflict than necessary. We should avoid the appearance of being in their faces. I’m addressing tone more than substance. Having said that, I realize that “we” didn’t push this up as a major issue, the NC legislature and other GOP pols did.

    And no, asking for better reasons from them will only get a reaction that you’re a pin-headed libturd who’s too dumb to understand their reasons.

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  66. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @James Pearce: I used the term “problem” because, IIRC, Mr. Dreher did. No other reason, but since you asked, “drive the fags from Kelso” seems like a potential problem to me.

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  67. KM says:

    @gVOR08 :

    We should avoid the appearance of being in their faces. I’m addressing tone more than substance.

    Which goes back to James Pearce’s point. Your statement is a demonstration of “fairness” and “care” – an attempt at diplomacy in order to achieve your desired goals. However, since “sanctity” > “fairness”, you are not going get a reciprocal response and might very well loose gained ground compromising when you don’t have to. When something as nebulous as “strongly held personal belief” is that standard, it’s always going to shift in their favor and deliberately leave outsiders out. They have no interest in conceding anything, only persevering what’s pure – often considered an all or nothing venture.

    Being the adult in the room also means recognizing that children are going to scream and whine no matter what so giving in for silence is not the best strategy. It does not mean consistently having to meet them in the middle but rather waiting out the tantrum, fixing any damage, and getting sh^t done. Why should the child dictate what tone the parent uses when they are the ones misbehaving?

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  68. KM says:

    @gVOR08 :

    Having said that, I realize that “we” didn’t push this up as a major issue, the NC legislature and other GOP pols did.

    Since “Authority” is one of their gigs, perhaps our tone should be “Start Sh^t, Get Hit”

    Seriously, a major factor driving the underlying panic in all this is the slowly-growing realization that conservatives are not the dominant force with the automatic KO. They will keep picking ever more ridiculous culture fights until the punch finally comes and shatters their glass jaw. Instead of exercising our preferred aspects, maybe we should step out of the comfort zone and get our Authoritah on. Let them know that each and every one of these petty “solutions” is going to cost them right in the pocketbook. They’re not the Boss of us anymore; Either “Loyalty” will kick in or they can just cry their eyes out in the timeout corner, their choice.

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  69. James Pearce says:

    @gVOR08:

    I guess I’m trying to say that we liberals, as the adults in the room, should be trying to do what’s necessary without generating any more conflict than necessary.

    Sure, but that being said, as the adults in the room, we should be willing to tell the children, “No” and be wiling to do that even if it results in a temper tantrum.

    We should avoid the appearance of being in their faces.

    I don’t know. I kind of consider this stuff to be bullying behavior and you’re not going to dissuade the bully by being nice to him. The bully only understands the fist and the boot. (Metaphorically speaking, of course.)

    And frankly, too much progress has been made here to start offering accommodations to bigots. I’m okay with telling a conservative that this issue is out of their reach, and if they call me a libtard, well…I call that Tuesday.

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    No other reason, but since you asked, “drive the fags from Kelso” seems like a potential problem to me.

    I agree, that is a problem. But it’s more of a problem for that kid than anyone else.

    He’s either going to stay in his bubble and take those beliefs to his grave, or he will encounter an actual gay or transgendered person during his life and hopefully have those views challenged.

    If he can only impotently express those views rather than act on them with the force of the law, that remains his problem. Not ours.

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  70. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08: There are times the diplomatic, not-in-their-face approach is most prudent.

    And then there are times bigotry must be confronted and called out for what it is, diplomacy be damned.

    What the right is trying to do with nonsense like this law is the latter.

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  71. Pch101 says:

    @gVOR08:

    I’m trying to say that we liberals, as the adults in the room, should be trying to do what’s necessary without generating any more conflict than necessary. We should avoid the appearance of being in their faces.

    But the hard right despises the appearance of weakness, so this only makes things even worse.

    Progressives and committed liberals often get suckered into social justice battles that only help the other side. For example, this happens with the gun control debate when liberals feed the notion that the NRA speaks for gun owners when they comprise perhaps 1% of the population. In essence, liberals make the NRA more powerful by putting that group at the center of the discussion, when the effort should be made instead to marginalize it.

    Above, I pointed out that this law is not primarily about bathrooms, but it was written so that all of the buzz would be about bathrooms. When members on the left fixate on the bathroom aspect of the law, it only plays into the hands of the hard right.

    Imagine if the antis took a different approach. Instead of harping on about transgender people, turn it into an issue about local control. Something similar to this:

    “The goal of this law is to prevent cities and towns from protecting their own citizens as they see fit. That’s right, folks — a bunch of bureaucrats in the state building in Raleigh want to interfere in local government and prevent us from having laws that serve the voters in our towns and cities.

    “What gave some pencil pusher who doesn’t live anywhere close to Charlotte the idea that he can push around the voters of Charlotte and take away their freedom? You don’t have to live in Charlotte to know that isn’t right, and the last thing that we need is to have a bunch of bullies in state government interfering with our rights. Our state officials need to focus on providing us with jobs and economic growth, not micromanaging our local affairs; they have more important things to do and we ought to fire them if they can’t figure that out.”

    Notice how it is possible to oppose this without getting lured into an argument over genitalia that the hard right wants. Instead of brawling for the sake of it, the goal should be to wage battles that can be won.

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  72. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pch101: Maybe a little over the top in rhetoric, but a good point well made. The optics of it may well be everything in this case.

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  73. Deserttrek says:

    @anjin-san: you are a sick piece of shit and need help fast

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  74. Grewgills says:

    @john430, you are once again wrong on both the facts and on the broader implication you are trying to make.
    Votes for the 1964 Civil Rights Act
    The original House version:[20]
    Democratic Party: 152
    Republican Party: 138
    The Senate version:[20]
    Democratic Party: 46
    Republican Party: 27
    The Senate version, voted on by the House
    Democratic Party: 153
    Republican Party: 136

    The vote was much more regional in nature with Southerners and rural voters much more likely to vote against while Northern, Western, and urban voters were much more likely to vote for the measure. At that time the Democrats were dominant in the South, so more Democrats did vote against the bill. If one looks at voting by party and region, Southern Democrats were more likely to vote for the Civil Rights Act than were Southern Republicans and Northern/Western Democrats were also more likely to vote for the act than Northern/Western Republicans. The thin reed that conservatives/Republicans try to cling to today is that the Democrats by virtue of the “Solid South” had more Southerners and so had more members vote against the ’64 CRA. They then try to claim that because of this Republicans and by extension conservatives are the real civil rights pioneers. This despite it being conservatives then and now that oppose civil rights. The conservatives are just in a different party now.

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  75. Pch101 says:

    @Grewgills:

    You’re wasting your time. Guys like John refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Southern Strategy and the change that has occurred in the political parties since the late 40s that moved the South from the Dems to the GOP>

    They are particularly incapable of understanding that the left/right schism between the Republicans and Democrats is (a) a recent phenomenon and (b) largely an invention of the GOP, which over the last few decades has purged the liberals and moderates from the party.

    The Republicans who voted for the Civil Rights Act are exactly the kind of people who John would refer to as “RINOs”. The Strom Thurmond-style politicians that he would support became Republicans.

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  76. bill says:

    @DrDaveT: look between your legs, it shouldn’t be that hard. and as noted, if you actually look like a chick but have a dick- nobody will really care. sure, there’s these mental freaks who can’t seem to get over the fact that they’re not the sex they wanted to be- but hey, it’s a really small % so wtf cares.
    if you really believe in all the xxy bs then maybe you’re as mentally ill as they are.
    but never miss a chance to get really upset about stupid things…..

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  77. J-Dub says:

    @bill:

    but never miss a chance to get really upset about stupid things…..

    We aren’t the one’s passing laws about things that were never an issue to begin with. It’s the GOP that is getting really upset about stupid things. We are just here to point out their bigotry, idiocy, ignorance, etc. etc. etc.

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  78. DrDaveT says:

    @bill:

    if you really believe in all the xxy bs […]

    By all means, bill, double down on teh stupid.

    Do you know what a ‘chromosome’ is? Find a medical reference book and look up “Non-Klinefelter XXY”.

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