Religious Right-Wingers Claim Transgender Women’s Equality is ‘Sexual Harassment’

When it comes to trans women in the media, religious pundits’ ignorance and willful bigotry truly know no bounds.

It hardly matters what news story Matt Barber and Mat Staver were discussing on the radio broadcast “Faith and Freedom” this week. It could have been the debate over whether RuPaul’s Drag Race creators used transphobic language; it could have been the recent explosion of fame for trans women like Laverne Cox or Janet Mock; it could have been a discussion of one of many “bathroom bills” like a recently-signed law in California, which allows trans students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

Mat Staver (left) and Matt Barber

This time, the gentlemen were riled up about long-standing guidelines on respecting transgender people in the federal workplace, and they stated outright that transgender equality is a form of sexual harassment.

Have a listen:

Let’s keep in mind that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has yet to actually pass, so it’s still totally legal in much of the country to fire an openly gay or trans person. Barber and Staver were appalled by guidelines issued by the Office of Personnel Management meant to “address some of the common questions that agencies have raised with OPM regarding the employment of transgender individuals in the federal workplace.” Hardly a sweeping declaration that everyone in the country has to offer trans people basic employment rights, but apparently offensive nonetheless!

Right Wing Watch’s Kyle Mantyla transcribed the short segment, and it’s revolting. Some choice moments:

We’re talking about men in skirts here. That’s what we’re talking about. Let’s just not beat around the bush with all the PC nonsense that the Left likes to use, transgender, transsexual. We’re talking about men in skirts and high heels and lipstick that want to go in — some of them because they get their jollies doing it, others because they’re completely and utterly sexually confused.

And also this:

President Obama and this Obama administration, talk about the War on Women, they have now officially made for federal employees sexual harassment the law of the land. … This creates an environment where now women cannot even comfortably use a bathroom or the showering facilities and locker facilities without fear that some man, leering man, is gonna be there in the locker room or the bathrooms along with them, and that is sexual harassment.

Anti-trans activists make wild claims like these all the time no matter how many times they’re debunked. But here we go again: Trans women are not “men in skirts” — they’re women. Allowing trans and non-trans women to use the same bathrooms is not sexual harassment — it’s a matter of equal access. Sexual harassment does not occur based on body parts — it can happen between virtually any people — and it has never, ever happened as a result of transgender people’s access to correct bathrooms.

The voices of trans people — trans women in particular — are becoming louder and louder in media and society today, and conservative Christians who don’t get it are falling behind. Trans people have skyrocketed in visibility and respect in the last few years, even with talking heads like these spewing hate in the background. If we remember who to listen to, that trend will continue.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.


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