It’s the right’s turn to top in the flip-fucking session that is the struggle for LGBT rights in the United States. The New York Times reports that officials in 11 states—Maine, Arizona, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin—have sued the federal government over guidance issued by President Obama to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, regardless of what’s printed on their birth certificates.
According to the Times:
The lawsuit, filed in a Federal District Court in North Texas, said the Obama administration had “conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over common sense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”
It’s a “massive social experiment” only insofar as it loosens the bigoted hand at the throat of equality in America. To be cisgender (and in all likelihood straight) and to feel imposed upon regarding this issue is to be pathologically egocentric. This is doomsday-conjuring, hypothetical “social experiment” invented as evidence against letting people piss in peace. There is, in fact, actual evidence of how something as simple as being unable to use a bathroom can infringe on the lives of our country’s trans citizens. A 2013 Williams Institute study found that 70 percent of trans people had some sort of negative experience while public bathrooms.
We saw similar arguments against gay marriage (whose country-wide passage “religious liberty” laws and bathroom bills push back against)—with the idea that there is a “slippery slope” to beware of when equality is sanctioned. This is fundamentally wrongheaded. These issues are not matters of what could happen, they are about what is happening, and what is happening is rampant mistreatment of trans people.
The Times also notes:
Last week, Oklahoma lawmakers introduced bills that would allow students to request on religious grounds that their public schools provide a bathroom or other facility that bars transgender people. It was one of the earliest legislative moves in what has become a pushback by states against the Obama administration’s policy.
Plenty of Americans, students included, hold “sincere beliefs” against barring transgender people from their preferred bathroom, some on religious grounds. Whose sincere beliefs, then, are most important? Is this country even equipped to handle a religion that preaches no bigotry based on “sincerely held” beliefs?
At the very least, the multi-state lawsuit reframes this argument so as to capture its essence. Here there’s no dog-whistling to behold, no fantasy of a cis male rapist in a dress who’s too polite to enter a women’s room because of the sign on its door.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has doggedly defended his state’s bathroom bill, HB2, but his rhetoric shifted to disclaim that trans people are not actually dangerous and not targeted by law that just happens to affect them the most. This sleight of hand that only and idiot could fall for was also employed by the city council president of Oxford, Alabama, Steven Waits, when that city attempted to enact its own bathroom ordinance (it was rescinded a few days later). Finally, Maine Governor Paul R. LePage, the Arizona Department of Education and the states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, have brought this conversation to the despicable fear and bigotry that it represents.