From The Pacific Standard: http://www.psmag.com/politics-and-law/who-birthed-anti-trans-bathroom-panic
Conservatives and religious groups are borrowing myths about transgender people from feminists.
Melissa Gira Grant
Mar 22, 2016
On a new campaign website in North Carolina, under a silhouette of a woman and some kids crowding her clip-art triangle skirt, there’s this text: “Days Until Charlotte Bathrooms Are Unsafe for Your Family” and there’s a clock ticking down. Fifteen days, some hours, and change. Your first thought might be like mine: I’m not sure why all these families are using bathrooms together, and if they are, doesn’t that mean there’s parental supervision? You won’t find a word for the thing that the people behind this website think is so unsafe, not even on any of the Pinterest-ready images they’ve posted. There, an array of smiling people are also, according to the text adorning them, absolutely horrified at the idea of “women and girls” being forced to use bathrooms with or having to undress around “men.”
The word the people behind this website are loathe to use is “transgender.” What they are so scared of is not the fate of their children, but a legal recognition of the rights of transgender people.
So let’s start there, on a point much of the media has ignored, a simple one that could also work on a Pinterest meme: This is not a bathroom panic; it’s an anti-trans panic.
In 16 states to date, legislatures have been made into arenas for this fight. As I wrote a few weeks back, anti-trans campaigners have marketed their legislative targets as having something to do with bathrooms—or changing rooms, locker rooms, and other places that stir up all kinds of emotions about privacy, sex, and the body. But that’s precisely the point, finding a hook of convenient fears to hang a much broader agenda meant to roll back rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people (as well as lesbians, gays, and bisexuals) in America.
The conservative trump card, the myth that women and girls face a particular threat from transgender women, is still alive, painfully, in feminist circles.
Their campaign doesn’t seem to be letting up. It has two legislative strategies: defeating anti-discrimination bills using trans panic, as well as passing anti-trans bills stripping rights. The Republican National Committee passed a resolution this January encouraging states to go on attack, stating, “These Obama gender identity [their italics] policies are a federal governmental overreach, a misinterpretation of Title IX policies, and an infringement upon the majority of students’ Constitutional rights.”
But where is all this stuff coming from? This specific angle, the idea that gender identity is something made up (a topic for another day, and a longer reading list), something used to manipulate or dupe—that the self-determination of transgender people presents a threat to the rights of (not that they put it this way) cisgender people, or even that transgender people themselves are a threat—this isn’t new. It recalls every culture war argument about “special rights” for LGBT people. The conservative right has long linked gender non-conformity to political deviance. It’s why Pat Buchanan would not only consider LGBT rights unacceptable, but also would describe the Democratic National Convention in 1992 as an event where “20,000 radicals and liberals came dressed up as moderates and centrists–in the greatest single exhibition of cross-dressing in American political history.”
This stuff—the invocation of a threat to the personhood of anyone who isn’t trans, this victim mentality so divorced from the reality of anti-trans discrimination and violence—is not the province of the conservative right alone. The conservative trump card, the myth that women and girls face a particular threat from transgender women, is still alive, painfully, in feminist circles.
Continue reading at: http://www.psmag.com/politics-and-law/who-birthed-anti-trans-bathroom-panic