A horrific attack ad out of North Carolina directly links bathroom access for trans people with little girls being attacked — a comparison that's not only transphobic, but also a blatant attempt to scare people into voting against equality.
The ad, uploaded to YouTube in October, targets North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper — currently running for governor of the state in a close race against incumbent Republican Pat McCrory. McCrory has been a key supporter of North Carolina's anti-trans HB2 law, sometimes referred to as the "bathroom bill," which bans trans people from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
Cooper has said that, if elected, he would work to repeal HB2 and restore basic bathroom rights to trans people.
In the black-and-white ad, a voiceover warns that "Roy Cooper's bathroom plan" would allow "any man at any time" to enter a women's bathroom "simply by claiming to be a woman that day." The ad appears to show one of these men who "claims" to be a woman following an innocent young girl into a stall — and then the door slams ominously behind them.
The ad was paid for by the North Carolina Values Coalition and the National Organization for Marriage, two organizations that staunchly oppose LGBTQ rights.
On its website, the North Carolina Values Coalition says that "human thriving is dependent upon marriage as the union of one man and one woman and that children do best when they are raised by their married mother and father." The National Organization for Marriage, meanwhile, said in a blog post that the LGBTQ community wants to "play on the emotions of the American people to portray gays, lesbians and the transgender as victims of intolerance and harassment" while "the reality is much different — it's believers in traditional values and morality who are victims of bullying, often by activists in the LGBT community."
But the actual reality is that, far from protecting children, discriminatory laws like HB2 further target and penalize the trans community, which is already disproportionately affected by hate violence.
And, while trans people attacking cisgender people in bathrooms is virtually unheard of, a 2013 study from the Williams Institute, an organization at UCLA that researches law and public policy surrounding sexuality and gender, found that 70% of trans and gender non-conforming people surveyed reported being "denied access, verbally harassed or physically assaulted in public restrooms."
What this transphobic attack ad gets so tragically wrong is that laws protecting people's right to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity is somehow unsafe. In reality, those laws makes us safer. Some of those kids that this ad claims we should be protecting are trans, too, and their parents shouldn't have to worry that their sons or daughters will be thrown in jail — or worse — just for using the bathroom.