You may remember the transphobic “Not in My Shower” campaign in Maryland, which aimed to repeal a measure that allowed transgender individuals to use whichever bathroom they were most comfortable with, by connecting transgender people to perversion, pedophilia, and other sexual violence. The campaign failed in court, and the equal protection law stayed in tact. But that’s not preventing other bigots from trying similar tactics in Gainesville, Florida in attempt to defeat a similar ordinance.
The ad is below:
The advertisement is sneaky in that it shows a man who is presumably cisgender. But as Renee skillfully points out in her excellent post, the ad still brims with transphobia. First of all, it’s deliberately misleading, as the new law says nothing about those who identify as men being able to use women’s restrooms. Secondly, it conflates men and transwomen, which is transphobia at its most classic (“transwomen are really men”).
And thirdly, it draws a direct line from an ordinance intended to protect transgender individuals from experiencing violence or arrest simply for taking a piss, with pedophilia and attacks on helpless children. It takes the focus away from the violence, both physical and institutional, that our society enacts on transgender individuals every day and puts the focus on violence that the average person with cis-privilege and bias feels far more sympathetically towards. And it heavily suggests that if it’s not transgender people directly committing this supposedly more appalling violence (and it rarely is), by demanding things like silly old rights they’re still responsible for it.
The New York Times notes that, as any logical person would assume, police have not reported a single problem in public restrooms stemming from the law since it passed a year ago. Unsurprisingly, the advertisement suggests the exact opposite. And while I’d love to believe that the “Not in My Shower” campaign’s failure bodes poorly for this effort, too, the success of Prop 8 based on supporters harping on false threats to children makes me wary of getting too hopeful. Especially since the Gainesville ordinance is going to a referendum, not the courts.
The referrendum is on Mach 24. Check out the Equality is Gainesville’s Business blog for more information and to make a donation to fight the ballot initiative.