Discrediting the Transphobic "Bathroom Predator" Myth

SOURCE:  Persagen.com, 2020-07-22

A constant threat to all transpersons is the disproven yet ever-recurring transphobic "bathroom predator" myth / attack.


  • Contents

    Anti-Transgender Strategies and Tactics

    Anti-Transgender "Wedge" Tactics


    The "wedge" tactic involves an anti-LGBTQ+ attack that attempts to pit members of a group or coalition against one another; for example, in transphobic attacks that attempt to separate and vilify the "T" from the remaining groups in the "LGBTQ+" community.

    In internal memos dating to 2009, the homophobic and transphobic organization National Organization for Marriage employed a wedge tactic, advocating strategies of pitting the African-American and homosexual communities against each other.

    The Christian right   intelligent design espousing disinformation group Center for Science and Culture (formerly known as the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture) - part of the so-called "Discovery Institute" - has also employed the "wedge strategy" in an attempt to push their agenda.

    The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization that seeks to reduce and ultimately end abortion in the United States by supporting anti-abortion politicians - primarily women - through its SBA List Candidate Fund political action committee. The SBA List employs many strategies in order to attract the public to its mission. Lawyer and scholar Tali R. Leinwand  [local copy  |  curriculum vitae] explains that the SBA List encourages Republicans not to endorse personhood amendments, and attempts to link the anti-abortion movement to less controversial causes like opposition to the Affordable Care Act. These strategies, Tali Leinwand argues, attempt to de-stigmatize the anti-abortion movement.

  • Society - Charitable giving & Practices - Politics - Countries - United States - Organizations - Nonprofit organizations - 501(c)(3) organizations - Discovery Institute

  • Anti-transgender Rhetoric; Use of Language

  • [2022-06-21, theConversation.com] 'Parental rights' lobby puts trans and queer kids at risk.

  • [MotherJones.com, 2023-03-08] Inside the Secret Working Group That Helped Push Anti-Trans Laws Across the CountryLeaked emails give a glimpse of the religious-right networks behind transgender healthcare bans.

  • Culture - Cultural studies - Media culture - Deception - Media manipulation - Propaganda

  • Culture - Cultural studies - Media culture - Deception - Media manipulation - Propaganda - Propaganda techniques - Disinformation

  • Culture - Cultural studies - Media culture - Deception - Media manipulation - Propaganda - Propaganda techniques - Framing

  • Culture - Cultural studies - Media culture - Deception - Media manipulation - Propaganda - Propaganda techniques - Loaded language

  • Culture - Cultural studies - Media culture - Deception - Media manipulation - Propaganda - Propaganda techniques - Misinformation

  • Humanities - The arts - Narrative - Political narrative

  • Society - Issues - Critical race theory

  • The use of language can be used to shape narratives, ideas, beliefs, and actions. Propaganda and misinformation can be used to subvert or co-opt otherwise innocuous concepts, such as the weaponization of critical race theory (essentially, an intellectual movement to understand systemic racism) as attacks against white people.

    GOPAC memo of 1990
  • Source for this subsection: Wikipedia, 2022-03-03.
  • Drawing rhetorical inspiration from Newt GingrichGOPAC wrote and distributed a memo to Republican Party legislative candidates in 1990. The memo - which came from a list drawn up by Frank Luntz, called "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control" - contained a list of "contrasting words" and "optimistic positive governing words" that Newt Gingrich recommended for use in describing Democrats and Republicans, respectively.

    For example, words to use against opponents include the following.

  • betray
  • collapse(ing)
  • consequences
  • decay
  • deeper, crisis
  • destroy
  • destructive
  • failure (fail)
  • liberal
  • lie
  • limit(s)
  • pathetic
  • radical
  • sensationalists
  • shallow
  • sick
  • they / them
  • traitors
  • unionized bureaucracy
  • urgent(cy)
  • Words to use in defining a candidate's own campaign and vision included the following ("compassion" is not enough).

  • active(ly)
  • candid(ly)
  • challenge
  • change
  • children
  • compete
  • control
  • courage
  • crusade
  • debate
  • family
  • humane
  • legacy
  • moral
  • movement
  • opportunity
  • pristine
  • prosperity
  • provide
  • reform
  • share
  • truth
  • we / us / our
  • Al Franken, a comedian and later a U.S. senator from Minnesota, wrote that GOP candidates were drilled to adopt three basic techniques in debating.

  • "Go Negative Early;"

  • "Don't Try to Educate;" and,

  • "Never Back Off."

  • Minor details were relevant only to "demolish the opposition."

    The cover page of the memo said: "The words in that paper are tested language from a recent series of focus groups where we actually tested ideas and language." The comic strip Doonesbury mentions the memo in a strip, calling it the "Magna Carta of attack politics."

    ... In 1990, after consulting focus groups with the help of pollster Frank Luntz,   GOPAC distributed a memo with a cover letter signed by Newt Gingrich titled "Language, a Key Mechanism of Control", that encouraged Republicans to "speak like Newt". It contained lists of "contrasting words" - words with negative connotations such as "radical", "sick," and "traitors" - and "optimistic positive governing words" such as "opportunity", "courage", and "principled", that Newt Gingrich recommended for use in describing Democrats and Republicans, respectively. Source (2023-01-24): Newt Gingrich ยง Congress.

  • Gingrich, N. (1974) Language: A key mechanism of control.

  • Newt Gingrich's 1990 GOPAC memo.  |  local copy

  • Newt Gingrich's 1996 GOPAC memo  |  local copy

  • [Archive.org, 2015-12-29] GOPAC - Language: A Mechanism of Control  |  local copy

  • [FAIR.org, 1995-02-01] Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.  |  local copy

  • Alliance Defending Freedom's Style Guide
  • Source for the following subsection: The word missing from the vast majority of anti-trans legislation? Transgender.  In 102 anti-trans bills in seven states, the word "transgender" appears just eight times, part of an effort to deny trans kids' existence even as the legislation affects what they can and cannot do.  |  relevant subsection

  • [ ... snip ... ]

    "I think they've just really effectively reframed their argument in a way that allows people to have these kinds of transphobic perspectives because they've removed the word transgender from all of this, so they're like, oh, no, but it's really about boys playing girls."

    In 2014, the Alliance Defending Freedom released an internal style guide  [local copy] advising against the use of the word "transgender" - according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which republished the document in 2018, and labels Alliance Defending Freedom an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group. Alliance Defending Freedom spokesperson Ellie Wittman  [local copy] said Alliance Defending Freedom no longer uses that style, but did not comment further.

    Still, current actions by Alliance Defending Freedom suggests it has not changed policy with regards to use of "transgender." A website sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom and other groups to generate anti-trans legislation offers "model policy " that avoids the word "transgender."

    [ ... snip ... ]

    Republican Party: Neofascism
  • Source for the following subsection: [JacobinMag.com, 2022-03-04] The Republican Party Is Waging a War Against Personal Freedom and Free Expression.  Conservatives at the state level have adopted slogans like "individual freedom" and "choice" - to brazenly and hypocritically push measures that punish people for discussing banned topics or expressing the wrong opinions.
  • In recent months, Republican lawmakers in Texas and Florida have rallied behind a suite of efforts related to schools, children, issues of race, issues of sexuality, and issues of gender identity. At a glance, each represents an isolated case study in conservatism's wider cultural offensive. Taken together, however, all tell a much larger story about the Right's professed commitment to personal freedom and freedom of expression - and the inconsistency with which its partisans apply their own chosen idioms.

    [ ... snip ... ]

    Recent developments in two states are especially instructive in this respect. Last month [2022-01], Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick (R-TX) signaled he'll push to end tenure for new hires at the state's public universities and colleges in a move to combat "indoctrination" and the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) - also opening the door to reforming local laws so that those who currently have tenure can have it revoked if authorities decide they've engaged in wrongthink. In Florida, which has also become a CRT battleground, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives just approved a measure to prohibit discussions concerned with gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms. ...

    ... Given the Right's espoused commitment to freedom of speech and opposition to state overreach, you might think this would be a difficult circle to square. In relation to both CRT and discussions of sexual identity, however, the favored frame has become the idea of "parental choice": a rhetorically useful way of packaging the agenda of social conservatism in the language of individual freedom and moral neutrality. One only needs to return to Texas to see just how hollow and selective the Right's application of this very concept actually is.

    [ ... snip ... ]

    Republican lawmakers, in short, will embrace the concept of parental autonomy in one instance and abandon it in the next. Freedom of speech is said to be under attack, but teachers and college faculty must face professional discipline if they transgress against the standards handed down by politicians. The state and its organs, it is said, should remain neutral on particular questions, but are also morally obligated to criminalize and punish certain lifestyles and viewpoints.

    In one obvious sense, there's no internal consistency here - the operating principle being "free expression for me but not for thee". Then again, this apparent lack of consistency may offer us a deeper clue about what's really animating the Right's wider cultural offensive. Parse the language and aims of these various efforts, and it's clear that their inspiration is nothing more nor less than a socially conservative idea of society in which individuals have prescribed roles and identities and the function of public institutions is to help bolster this natural order. Look at various   polls on a range of issues, and it's very difficult to make a convincing case that anything resembling such a worldview is shared by a majority of Americans - which is probably one reason conservatives have tended to package their objectives in the bogus rhetoric of neutrality and choice.

    [ ... snip ... ]

    Anti-Transgender Wedge Strategy

    A key architect of the anti-transgender wedge strategy is Meg Kilgannon, Executive Director of Concerned Parents and Educators of Fairfax County. Kilgannon espouses a three-pronged anti-trans attack strategy.

    Simplified, that approach is:

    Additional Reading: Anti-trans Wedge Strategy

    The Use of "Junk Science" to Advance Anti-LGBT Goals

    Source [2017-10-23]:  Christian Right tips to fight transgender rights: Separate the T from the LGB.

    Rather than obviously opposing transgender rights using moral or religious terms, the key strategy of the religious right's opposition to transgender rights has been to couch anti-LGBT rhetoric in scientific or medical terms - a strategy long used by anti-LGBT groups. Here, Peter Sprigg, refers to the "naturalness" argument that animates a lot of the Christian right's anti-LGBTQ agenda, but shifts to focus on science and health:

    Most of the panelists focused on peddling debunked pseudo-scientific falsehoods about LGBT people. To target survivors of sexual assault, for instance, panelists upheld the idea that trans women's use of women's restrooms could facilitate assault.

    In 2016, however, Media Matters published a reportciting law enforcement officials and other experts in 16 states showing no uptick in sexual assault in jurisdictions that had passed trans-inclusive rules or legislation. Still, anti-trans groups have been exploiting this fear-mongering tactic (one that implies that trans women are potential perpetrators of assaults, rather than potential victims of it) and using it as a way to appeal to sexual assault survivors.

    Often, this focuses on sexual assault by strangers, as pointed out by program and policy director at the transgender advocacy group FORGE Loree Cook-Daniels, which obscures the fact that in eight out of 10 rape cases, victim knows the person who sexually assaulted them, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

    Some have resisted the attempt to use sexual assault survivors' experience to advance goals oppressive to transgender individuals, many of whom already suffer from discrimination and violence. Kelly Herron, a Seattle-based sexual assault survivor vigorously opposed the attempts of Just Want Privacy, a campaign to repeal a Washington state law that allows transgender people to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, to exploit her experience of assault. Just Want Privacy used Herron's story to do fundraising to advance their anti-trans agenda (Herron was assaulted by a man hiding in a restroom at a Seattle park.) Just Want Privacy's communication director, Kaeley Triller Haver, is the co-founder of the Hands Across the Aisle Coalition.

    Many more claims made at the panel were scientifically unsound. Despite attempts to mobilize diverse voices, the religious right's use of misleading science leaves little doubt that their secular-facing attempts to oppose transgender rights will be motivated by the same hateful agenda they have long embraced, rather than out of real solidarity for oppressed groups.

    Identity Politics

    A key approach to the isolation and persecution of transgender persons (or any marginalized group or targeted population) is the co-option of identity politics - a political approach wherein people of a particular genderreligionracesocial backgroundsocial class, environmental, or other identifying factors develop political agendas that are based upon these identities. The term is used in a variety of ways to describe phenomena as diverse as multiculturalismwomen's movementscivil rightslesbian and gay movements, and regional separatist movements.

    A 2018 article by the Southern Poverty Law Center describes the co-optation of identity politics - in this case - to foster alt-right / fascist / neo-Nazi ideology and community, hate, and harassment.

    Facts, Data Support Gender Identity-Appropriate Use of Bathrooms

  • [2017-02-22] Excellent overview!  Anti-transgender bathroom hysteria, explained

  • Origins and Notable Uses of the Transphobic "Bathroom Predators" Meme

  • The following is excerpted from the Moral Majority main article.

  • [2018-03-22]  Trump Sends Anti-trans Pro-lifer Bethany Kozma to Women's Rights Conference at the U.N.

  • [2020-04-08]  The Worst Anti-LGBTQ Statements From Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.  McEnany has argued that transgender restroom access enables predators and that banning marriage equality is not discrimination.

  • Transphobic "Bathroom Predator" Myth: Canadian Federal Politics

    Conservative Party Transphobes [Stephen Harper, Peter MacKay] and Faux Allies [Erin O'Toole]

    Conservative Party of Canada member Peter MacKay - who in 2020-08-23 lost his bid for leadership of that party - is a long-known transphobe - who in support of then-Prime Minister / transphobe Stephen Harper, toed the party line in denying federal transgender protections. Conversely, Conservative Party of Canada member Erin O'Toole - who in 2020-08-23 won the leadership race for that party, at that time broke with the majority of his Conservative Party members to vote in favor of trans rights legislation. [Transgender-affirming and protecting legislation - vigorously attacked and defeated by the then-ruling Conservative Party under Stephen Harper - was ultimately reintroduced and passed by the Liberal Party under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which succeeded the Harper regime.]

    Peter MacKay - lately, under increased scrutiny - now a self-professed (fair-weather) trans "ally" - at that time (Harper era) attacked O'Toole and his support of the transgender "bathroom" bill.

    In October 2012, Canadian former Parliamentarian Rob Anders attracted some controversy by calling Bill C-279, a private member's bill that would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and hate crime section of the Criminal Code to include "gender identity" and "gender expression" as grounds for discrimination, a "bathroom bill." Those transphobic views are shared by Rob Anders' fellow Canadian Conservatives Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney.

    Transphobic "Bathroom Predator" Myth: Canadian Provincial Politics

  • [2020-09-07]  Transphobe, misogynist, homophobe Roland Michaud:  New Brunswick Tory leader reviews candidate Roland Michaud's future after transphobic re-post emerges N.B. Tory leader considering candidate's future

  • Consequences of Hate: Violence Directed Against Transpersons Over Gender-Appropriate Use of Bathrooms

  • [2020-02-25]  Neulisa Luciano Ruiz: Transgender woman killed in Puerto Rico after using women's bathroom.  A video shared on social media appears to show the woman being shot less than a day after she was reported to police for using a women's bathroom

  • [2020-01-29]  Vancouver, B.C., Canada:  Human rights complaint filed over trans bathroom in BC tribunal office

  • [Oregon, 2019-10-30]  Lauren Jackson:  Transgender woman describes attack, suspect charged with bias crime

  • Additional Reading

  • [๐Ÿ“Œ pinned article] [NewRepublic.com, 2022-02-17] Groups Pushing Anti-Trans Laws Want to Divide the LGBTQ Movement.  The same people keep pushing bill after bill, developing their strategy as they go.

  • [19thNews.org, 2021-12-10] California wants to expand gender-inclusive bathrooms in schools.  A committee will begin meeting next year to explore how to increase the facilities after a year in which many states and districts moved to restrict the rights of trans and nonbinary students.

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