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

From the ArkTimes store

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

  • Woo. An open line

    The open line. Hogs, Trump, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
    • Sep 23, 2017
  • Trump launches attack on 'SOBs' of the NFL

    Donald Trump led a rally for Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange Friday night and the resulting news coverage (if not in our local newspaper) is giving great attention for his rant against the NFL, including but not limited to players who have made political statements by taking a knee during the National Anthem.
    • Sep 23, 2017
  • Driver killed in crash with Maumelle officer

    Maumelle police report the death early this morning of a motorist who crashed head-on with a Maumelle police officer. The officer and two passengers in the other vehicle were injured.
    • Sep 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Aid politics

    The still-unfolding catastrophe in Houston is, first, a human tragedy. But when politicians try to tell you that a time of enormous human tragedy is not a time to talk about politics, it likely means the politics are embarrassing to them.
    • Aug 31, 2017
  • Save the statues!

    The Democratic Party of Arkansas has called for relocation of Confederate monuments from public places, such as courthouse squares and the Capitol lawn, to history museums or private grounds.
    • Aug 24, 2017
  • Charter secret

    These are hard times for those who believe in traditional public schools, run by democratically elected representatives, open to all on equal terms.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

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

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sex on campus

    • Once again commentators blame the victim. Social scientists, of whom I am one, regularly find…

    • on September 22, 2017
  • Re: Time for a coalition

    • Shiny, nobody is saying that Hillary isn't entitled to speak. Shit, the more she talks,…

    • on September 21, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation