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Equality = Bathroom Bills = Rape: Reality Check

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Protections will allow men to dress as women “… in order to perpetrate crimes of homicide, rape, robbery [and] assault…”

Sound familiar? It sounds like the arguments of TS Separatism and Religious Fundamentalists, doesn’t it?

Actually, this quote is 40 years old and comes from a pamphlet published by a religious fundamentalist group campaigning against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). While this equality-for-the-sexes amendment was approved by the federal government, a fundamentalist  bathroom argument scared enough states into not ratifying the amendment so that it ultimately failed to become part of our Constitution.

1977 Post Mortem on ERA

The above story is worth a read. It’s a glimpse into the very playbook Separatists and Fundies use in their war against transgender equality.

Here’s just a few quotes:

(NOTE: When the ERA discussion talks about the integration of restrooms, “integrate” meant allowing men access to the women’s restrooms under the cover of an equality law.)

“ERA would… integrate public toilets.”

“Law professor Paul Freund objected in 1973 to being “quoted erroneously and out of context by certain opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment” and commented flatly, “I have not staled, and 1 do not believe, that the Amendment would require the sharing of rest room and prison cells by both sexes.” Yet in 1975 a huge anti-ERA advertisement in Baton Rouge papers credited him with the allegation that the ERA would integrate bathrooms.”

And then the story gets down to the point of restroom scare tactics:

“The hubbub over the implementation of the Amendment is designed to elicit a knee-jerk reaction…”

Compare this to the rhetoric of the modern anti-equality fundamentalist camp:

From nobathroombill.com: Who’s going to be waiting for YOUR wife and daughter?

Compare this to the rhetoric of the modern anti-equality Separatists camp:

image

Dana Lane Taylor, Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford Anti-Trans United Nations letter: Trans protections allow men to harm woman and all men are just as likely to harm women.

This letter linked back (note the “xxii” citation) to Taylor’s site wherein she asserts “When discussing laws that protect gender identity and expression, for public accommodations, it is crucial to use specific language.” She then goes on to warn the reader about the evils of “broad definitions of gender identity and/or expression.” As part of her warning, she lists a number of incidents wherein men (whose unrelated behavior could somehow/some way be tied to back to breaking some sort of gender stereotype) hurt women. For example,  Taylor cites the arrest of a peeping tom who was wearing panties on his head:

According to Separatists, this guy would be protected under trans equality measures.

  • Did the anti-ERA people have any evidence to support their assertion that equality laws nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance? Nope… just fear and a purposeful misrepresentation of the facts concerning the restroom safety.
  • Do the modern anti-trans religious fundies have any evidence to support assertion that equality laws nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance? Nope… just fear and a purposeful misrepresentation of the facts concerning the restroom safety.
  • Do the modern TS Separatists have any evidence to support assertion that equality laws nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance? Nope… just fear and a purposeful misrepresentation of the facts concerning the restroom safety.

3/25/1973, The Anniston Star: Men in the women’s restrooms

If they can integrate restrooms on the basis of race, why not on the basis of sex?

These anti-equality groups have had 40 years to make their evidence-based case showing us exactly how equality laws nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance. Have they done it even once? Nope. When I challenged Dana Lane Taylor a few weeks ago to provide just 10 real-world examples, she shut down her entire site and hasn’t yet provided any examples of how trans protections nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance.

So, what might you expect the forces of anti-equality to do when they can’t actually make  a cogent evidence-based argument explaining exactly how equality laws nullify existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance? Well, they do what comes naturally… they just lie:

“Since Montgomery County passed a similar bill, there have been 4 rapes by men, dressing as women lying in wait for their victims in ladies rooms.”

Really? Four rapes you say? Well, lets see what law enforcement has to say about that testable assertion of fact:

“Since this law has been in effect, we have had no reported rapes committed in restrooms by men dressed as women.”

What are the forces of anti-equality hoping to communicate with their propaganda? Are they claiming that a rapist in a dress thought they’d get away with a rape due to equality laws? Are they suggesting that equality protections somehow condones abhorrent behaviors like rape? Are they hoping to make the public believe that in the absence of equality protections, a rapist is somehow prevented from entering a restroom due to some force field-like bubble which equality will somehow destroy? Well, yes… those are apparently the basic arguments anti-equality forces have made for decades.

They hope that the normal knee-jerk revulsion against cruel violence will shut down your critical thinking abilities. They hope that instead of thinking of rapists as being the threat, you’ll instead see crossdressers, non-op and pre-op people as being a threat. Because, if they can get you to do that, the process of dehumanization will begin so that you’ll easily conflate rapists (a behavior) with crossdressers, non-op and pre-op people (an identity) and crossdressers, non-op and pre-op people will naturally become possible rapists who should be treated with suspicion. If they can get you to do this mental gymnastic, there will never be any need for them to produce objective evidence explaining exactly how equality laws nullifies existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance. No, with the anti-equality blinders on, the risk crossdressers, non-op and pre-op people pose will seem self-evident.

[Non-discrimination protections based upon gender identity] would allow all males – including registered sex offenders or males subject to a domestic violence order of protection – to assert “gender identity” as a means to invade female-only space. Indeed, these laws provide a legal basis for males to be in sex-segrigated space. It is well-documented that males as a class have a demonstrated history of harming females as a class by exploiting bemale biology (ie, rape, sexual violance, unwanted pregnancy).
- Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford United Nations letter in which they use Dana Lane Taylor’s Separatist propaganda to support defeating a UN trans-equality initiative.

Why do Fundamentalists and Separatists do it? Well, they do it because that tactic works! Not only did the bathroom meme defeat a constitutional amendment that passed the congress and the senate with the support of presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon and even the likes of George Wallace 40 years ago, it’s the only rhetorical tool that seems to gain traction when arguing against trans equality. Whether it’s arguing against the equality of  trans and cis people, trans folk and transsexual separatists, trans folk and radical feminists, the bloody mantle of the bathroom meme serves as their foundational argument from which all other hyperbole is launched.

Now that I’ve touched on the fantasy, here’s the reality…

Trans woman being beaten by a cis woman

I have spent so many hours avoiding public multi-stall bathrooms  that I have damaged my bladder and put pressure on my kidneys. The problem was a daily one. I’d think about where I was going what bathrooms I’d have access to, how much I drank during the day, whether I’d be with people who could help stand guard…
-  Response to a 2002 survey conducted by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission which found that nearly 50% of transgender respondents reported harassment or assault in a public bathroom

We live under the constant threat of horrifying violence. We have  to worry about what bathroom to use when our bladders are aching.  We are forced to consider whether we’ll be dragged out of a bathroom and arrested or face a fist fight while our bladders are still aching .  It’s an everyday reality for us. Human beings must use toilets… If I go into the women’s bathroom, am I prepared for the shouting and shaming? Will someone call security or the cops? If I use the men’s room, am I willing to fight my way out? Am I really ready for the violence that could ensue?
- Leslie Feinberg, Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue, p 68 – 69

Police officers often harass or abuse transgender and gender nonconforming people regardless of which sex-segregated bathroom they use. This harassment intensifies when coupled with the stereotyping of trans people as sexual predators. As such, the use of the  ‘wrong’ bathroom . . . often results in arrests for crimes such as public lewdness, public obscenity, or public indecency. Refusing to  comply with or simply questioning a police officer’s direction as to  which bathroom the individual must use can often lead to charges  such as resisting arrest or disorderly conduct.

- Pooja Gehi, Struggles from the Margins: Anti-Immigrant Legislation and the Impact on  Low-Income Transgender People of Color, 30 WOMEN’S RTS. L. REP. 315, 326 (2009)

And it doesn’t stop with bathrooms. This level of violence is something trans folk must consider when buying cloths too. Here’s what State Rep. Richard Floyd (R) said he’d do to a trans person if they dared to buy clothes like anyone else might:

I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry.

Again, to hit home just how longstanding this meme is, consider the following quote from a 1970 anti-trans equality legal decision:

There are numerous subjects who would want to change their sex identity in order to perpetrate crimes of homicide, tape, robbery, assault, etc.”

- Columbus v. Zanders, 266 N.E.2d 602, 604–06 (Ohio Mun. Ct. 1970)

The time to end this intellectual barbarism has come!

Don’t surrender your critical thinking faculties to the likes of Separatists and Fundamentalists. Don’t fall for their blood-drenched games of rhetoric! The idea the various anti-equality forces seek to set loose within your mind is the same: bigotry. And a bigot is a bigot is a bigot:

Ku Klux Klan Propaganda in favor of separatism and anti-equality

Notice how the KKK uses the same rhetorical tool RadFems, Fundamentalists and TS Separatists use. They hope that the normal knee-jerk revulsion against cruel violence will shut down your critical thinking abilities. In the same way the Klan hopes that instead of thinking of rapists as being the threat, you’ll instead see the African-American community as being a threat, RadFems and TS Seps offer up the same logical fallacy. For the Klan, if they can get you to do that, the process of dehumanization will begin so that you’ll easily conflate rapists (a behavior) with African-American community (an identity) and the African-American community will naturally become possible rapists who should be treated with suspicion. Likewise, if RadFems and TS Seps can get you to do this same mental gymnastic, there will never be any need for them to produce objective evidence explaining exactly how racial equality laws  nullifies existing laws prohibiting rape, assault, stalking and/or public indecency/disturbance. No, with the anti-equality blinders on, the risk the African-American community poses will seem self-evident and with those same blinders on, the supposed risk the trans community poses will seem self-evident as well.

GET IT?!?

Oh, yah… and please don’t post replies to this post linking to sites where TS Separatists claim to not hate non-transsexual transgender people and assert that it’s self-evident that all separate trans people need to work on behalf of their own  instead of trying to “force” everyone under some “collective”…  because the KKK engages in the same slimy posturing too:

From the Ku Klux Klan website: “We are NOT bigots or haters”

“[The the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan] was concerned about securing a future for his people…  He wasn’t consumed by hatred for the black man and woman… We believe in self-determination for all people. We believe that the best minds of all people should work together for the advancement and development of their own people without being hindered by another racial group… No, we are not the enemies of the black man, the brown man, the red man, or the yellow man. Rather it is those who attempt to artificially force the different races together who are the enemies…”

Separatists are all too happy to pick up the very same butcher’s tools that everyone from those who would seek to bar Muslims from holding office to the likes of  Dr. Ruth Jacobs would use in their anti-equality efforts and it’s as perverse as it is sickening. Whether it’s a racist separatist, a misogynist separatist, a philogynist separatist, a homophobic separatist or a transphobic separatist, they all trade in the same rhetorical mind games. Separatists (whatever their flavor) have the blood of very real suffering on their hands.

Now, as a preemption to the strawman argument I can already see coming… Don’t assert that I’m claiming that TS Separatists are racists or that they’re part of the KKK. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t use the same rhetorical tools the KKK does when making their case for separatism. I think membership in the Klan requires more than simply repurposing their playbook.

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  1. Looks like Taylor just ignored you completely. She deleted your comments that led to your challenge on this site. It is now obvious that she knows she’s wrong. She can’t stand up for herself. I’ve shown her site to several of my friends at the local ts support group. We all agree she is a joke in the community. We all call her site perverts-central.org. I’ve also shown her site and some archived video blogs of her to some lesbians and they think she is a joke. They can’t believe she is for real.

    • Well, I hope that at some point she's able to understand what she's doing. I hope that she's able to find a way to be a separatist opinion leader without conducting herself in such a despicable manner. Taylor seems like a good person and she seems to be committed to trying to help the transsexual community – which is a great thing. But… as they say, 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions.' I hope she has a moment of clarity whereby she realizes that she and the fundamentalists at the Liberty Council are using the same rhetoric.

      • My friends and I believe that Taylor has problems passing as a woman in public restrooms so she’s trying to make it impossible for anyone not post op to use public restrooms. It is clearly a self centered and selfish agenda she has.

    • If you're ignoring the point of this post (separatists seem to all use the same lies) by pretending that I'm claiming that I'm scared to go to the bathroom, I'd have to say you've disappointed me. If I'm understanding you correctly, this would be the first time that I can remember that you've engaged in this type of disingenuous rhetoric, Deena.

      I don't have any fears about going to the bathroom. That doesn't mean that I've not worked with the victims of police harassment or vicious attacks involving knifes just because a trans person dared to used the bathroom. Dismissing the very real truth of what many, many trans people deal with every single day is… disappointing.

      • Oh Cristan you have disappointed me. You took my very simple statement and imputed assumptions into it. You did the very thing you oft accuse others of. Please take a deep breath while I try to sort this all out for you.

        First, I really don’t give a flip where you pee.

        Second, I abhor the concept that male dominated legislatures would pass legislation regulating who can go into sex segregated restrooms.

        Third, I think you have some sort of hangup about people who do not want to be defined by the umbrella-ists.

        Fourth, if you want me to put any thought into the positions you advocate then you should return the favor. Trying to trash me is symptomatic of a psychosis.

        Fifth, you often seek to pass off historical documents as the truth of a time when in reality they simply reflect the distorted view of the author.

        Sixth, neither you nor I are significant to the cumulative human experience and I doubt we ever will be.

        Seventh, you forgot to use the Nazi parallel when you made your tirade. I consider that a gross oversight.

        Eighth, please present your case without resorting to denigration based on your twisting of what someone has said.

        Ninth I do not understand your obsession with potty politics. That seems to be a compulsive obsession in the CMW (call me woman) click.

        Tenth, I do not hold myself out as better than anyone else. Do you?

  2. A lot of this is a long ball strategy to keep trans people out out federal nondiscrimination protections. When someone fought to keep trans people out of state level nondiscrim law by saying they didn’t need it due to a proposed legal strategy, but doesn’t hold themselves to a similar standard (the exact same strategy has been proposed to cover sexual orientation) – their motivations are suspect.

    This strategy works to try and split the lgbt community’s solidarity on the proposed full civil rights bill & split trans people’s on the issue.

    One can almost imagine somone suppressing their glee at some future point while saying how they are appalled that Chrissy Pollis was assaulted coming out of a men’s room. Then high fiving her compatriots & raising a toast later that evening.

  3. @Deena

    I won’t comment on your opinions, but I will comment on what you assert to believe to be fact:

    You took my very simple statement and imputed assumptions into it.

    What I said was: “If I’m understanding you correctly, this would be the first time that I can remember that you’ve engaged in this type of disingenuous rhetoric, Deena.” In other words, I’m acknowledging the reality that I may have mistook your pithy statement while also saying that if I understood you correctly then I’m disappointed.

    I think you have some sort of hangup about people who do not want to be defined by the umbrella-ists.

    I’ve pointed out time and time again that this isn’t the case. I’ve explained that I have no issue with people who choose to not be identified with the term. My problem is – and has always been – the totalitarian demand that all others redefine known language to placate claims of offence rooted in pretend up history. The myth-imbued hyperbole goes something like this: “‘Transsexual’ has been colonized. The umbrella idea was invented by the communist Leslie Feinberg in teh mid-1990s. Before that, True Transsexuals (TM) and crossdressers were NEVER thought of as being part of a single community!1!! Legal troubles for transsexuals didn’t start until the 1990s when teh crossdressers were pushed into our fight by the borg. Virginia Prince, a misogynist, invented the term ‘transgender’ in the 1960s. Christine Jorgensen wasn’t a transgender and stop assimilating me. Let my people go! Borg! Mansplaining!” Each and every one of these examples of unsupported separatists dogma has been proven false… but like the energizer bunny, separatists seem hell-bent on continuously regurgitating the same lies over and over again.

    The fiction-based victim claims are what I take issue with. There’s a LOT of reasonable moderate “separatists” who don’t use the term “transgender” to describe their experience… and that’s where it end for them. No drama and no victim claims. They’re not (very loud and very public) victims of some world-wide Borg conspiracy. They don’t troll the internet picking fights over imagined crimes while gleefully resorting to the very same rhetorical games the Klan uses. That’s what I have a problem with… I have NO problem with the self-identity of anyone.

    Fifth, you often seek to pass off historical documents as the truth of a time when in reality they simply reflect the distorted view of the author

    I know that you and a number of others like to claim that all of these documents come from some alternate history wherein your historical dogma is wrong. If so… where’s all of this other historical material that proves that I’ve re-written trans history? I began publishing the historical record a year ago and thus far… the vanguard of the supposed one-true-history has produced… nothing. Not one document, pamphlet, had written letter… nothing.

    Eighth, please present your case without resorting to denigration based on your twisting of what someone has said.

    Twisting? Did you say twisting? So, providing screen caps of complete statements is twisting? Are you asserting that the following IS NOT a fair summation of Separatist rhetoric:

    “Dana Lane Taylor was concerned about securing a future for her people… She wasn’t consumed by hatred for crossdressers… We believe in self-determination for all people. We believe that the best minds of all people should work together for the advancement and development of their own groups without being hindered by another trans group… No, we are not the enemies of the crossdresser, the drag queen, the gender queer… the transgender. Rather it is those who attempt to artificially force the different groups together who are the enemies…”

    Is that not an almost perfect summation of Separatist rhetoric? Are you saying that separatists have some other rhetorical agenda on offer?

    Ninth I do not understand your obsession with potty politics.

    How many have you had to work with after they’ve been so badly harassed that they’s pissed themselves in fear, who were wrongfully jailed and thrown in with the men or had their heads kicked in for using the bathroom?

    Tenth, I do not hold myself out as better than anyone else. Do you?

    It’s not that I think I’m better than someone else, it’s that I think my assertions are better than most coming from the Separatist camp. In fact, I do think my evidence-based assertions of fact are objectively better than chronically unsupported assertions of fact coming from separatists. Which type of fact assertion do you value more, supported or chronically unsupported assertions of fact?