Favorite

Toilet terrorists 

click to enlarge Gov. Asa Hutchinson - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Gov. Asa Hutchinson

President Obama gave Republicans a gift last week. His administration reminded school districts that the law requires that students be allowed to use restroom and locker facilities that match their gender identity.

The president did no more than state controlling statute, rule and legal precedent, including a recent decision of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He was prompted by actions in North Carolina, particularly, to require students to use restrooms that comport with their genitalia at birth, not their gender identity. (It's unclear what North Carolina would require of the small number of children born ambiguously on the biological spectrum. Do it in the road?)

The president's announcement included this important phrase: "A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so. A school may, however, make individual-user options available to all students who voluntarily seek additional privacy." My emphasis.

Republicans already were using bathroom hysteria as a wedge issue in massive resistance to equal rights for lesbians and gays. A black president edges into sexual matters? Strike up "Dixie" and put a 1950s newsreel on the projector. Justice Jim Johnson would have admired how Arkansas politicians rushed to boil race and sex into a hateful stew.

Gov. Hutchinson said the president's announcement was "offensive, intrusive and lacking in common sense." Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin called it "ridiculous." Attorney General Leslie Rutledge called it an "abuse of power." And they claim to be lawyers. Only in the GOP is obeying the law an abuse of power.

The average child is at greater risk from a priest, Baptist minister, teacher or coach than a transgender person seeking a public bathroom stall. See: just about any daily newspaper.

The Republican outcry raised two essential questions: 1) Do Republicans believe there is such a thing as gender dysphoria — the feeling that one's sex is different from one's biological sex? Science says it's real, but Republicans aren't strong on science. 2) Have the protestors ever knowingly met a transgender person?

One study says about three-tenths of 1 percent of people are transgender, or about 1,500 of Arkansas's public school children, an average of one per school. But the number that has made the transition is almost certainly smaller. Personal confusion, fear and fallout — beginning at home — discourage it.

The Republicans are preying on fear about a problem that doesn't exist. There IS evidence, however, of cruelty against trans people, and demagoguery will only encourage more. I was told recently of a woman who tried to enter a Capitol women's restroom. She was challenged by a toilet vigilante because of her slender, boyish build and clothing. She fled rather than drop her trousers.

My trans acquaintances include someone I knew as a child as, let's say, Maxine. Maxine is now a handsome adult named Max, with a neatly trimmed beard. Do Asa Hutchinson, Tim Griffin and Leslie Rutledge really want Max to use the little girls' room?

No, what they really want is to discriminate. Thanks to them, we have two state laws aimed at discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The Constitution's equal protection clause means little to them. They want to protect legal discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations, from restaurants to photo studios.

The desire to discriminate — whether against gays, women, immigrants or black people — is a far bigger threat to individual well-being than the rare trans person hoping to perform a bodily function in a closed bathroom stall.

An acute observation I saw on the Internet: Those accustomed to privilege see equality as oppression. I'd add: The corollary for those without privilege and equality should be obvious.

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015
  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015

Most Shared

  • Labor department director inappropriately expensed out-of-state trips, audit finds

    Jones was "Minority Outreach Coordinator" for Hutchinson's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The governor first named him as policy director before placing him over the labor department instead in Jan. 2015, soon after taking office.
  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
  • Lawsuit filed against ADC officials, prison chaplain convicted of sexual assault at McPherson

    A former inmate who claims she was sexually assaulted over 70 times by former McPherson Womens' Unit chaplain Kenneth Dewitt has filed a federal lawsuit against Dewitt, several staff members at the prison, and officials with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, including former director Ray Hobbs.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Kids count, not confidentiality

    The trial for the murder of Isaiah Torres, 6, was a reminder again of a gaping hole in the law pertaining to child protective services.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Fixing blame: President Trump

    Did the press fail? Were liberal-leaning journalists on the coasts responsible for missing the Trump wave among middle-to-lower income white voters with lower educational attainment?
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Can we get along?

    he Times production deadline fell before polls closed this week, so I'll look to the past and future.
    • Nov 10, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
  • Arkansas Democrats' rocky road forward

    No state political party in the modern era has had a more abrupt fall than Arkansas's Democrats

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Worth it

    • Alas, Gene's memory ain't what it used to be. He wrote a column some time…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: Forget identity politics

    • Hillarys 'Stronger Together' nonsense failed because she failed to make it a reality. As Gene…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: Fake economics

    • Trump economic proposals: Rates for Married-Joint filers: Less than $75,000: 12% More than $75,000 but…

    • on December 5, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation