Bathroom bills — a term for legislation that prevents trans individuals from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity — have been making their way across the nation, with seven states considering these discriminatory laws. North Carolina and Tennessee have both passed laws which restrict people from using the bathroom based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Beyond being discrimination in its plainest form, these laws prevent trans people from living their public lives.
If you can’t use a public restroom, how are you supposed to live your life? One study demonstrated that when trans people can’t use public restrooms, there are serious and far-reaching consequences. Some people quit their jobs and missed school, forcing them out of critical socio-economic opportunities. Right-wing bigots who support these laws say they protect public safety from sexual predators. The very concept that trans people are inherently predatory is blatantly transphobic and oppressive.
Project Veritas is an organization helmed by James O’Keefe, a right-wing activist notorious for making falsified “sting videos” of his targets. In the past, he has worked with Lila Rose of the anti-abortion organization Live Action and trained her to make sting videos in abortion clinics. He refers to himself as an “investigative journalist”, but do not be fooled — heavily-edited videos where subjects’ comments are taken out of context are not journalism.
In this vein, O’Keefe has released a video claiming that anti-transgender bathroom bills are necessary because he and another “journalist” posed as sexual predators and told Title IX officers at various universities that they preferred to use an “opposite-sex” bathroom to film and record the “opposite-sex” people in there for sexual reasons. The reactions — for the most part, stunned and uncomfortable, from the officers are being used as proof that sexual predators can use these policies as a loophole to prey on people.
Let us be very clear — there are no recorded instances of actual transgender people harming anyone in restrooms. These baseless claims are nothing more than fear-mongering that ultimately leads to violence against trans people. Furthermore, as evidenced by O’Keefe’s video, the main predators that people should fear in restrooms are anti-LGBT activists who pose a threat to everyone, especially transgender people.
In fact, there have been numerous recorded instances violence being inflicted on queer — trans and gender nonconforming — folks in public restrooms. Many queer people have experiences with discomfort in restrooms, ranging from faux-concerned and bigoted comments to physical violence. It is also notable that O’Keefe has not called for harsher penalties for actual child predators, even in light of the sentencing of former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.
We condemn, in no uncertain terms, James O’Keefe’s inflammatory, and likely heavily-edited video. The lie that trans people are violent predators is based in nothing but violent bigotry and hatred. Trans people, like everyone else, just want to use the bathroom in peace.
“Sting videos” like this and the ones filmed in Planned Parenthood clinics and other abortion providers violate people’s privacy and personhood. Targeting Planned Parenthood, ACORN, and now trans people is not an accident — these attacks and hatred are intersectional, and they fulfill the systematic right-wing campaign to keep women, queer, trans, and gender non-conforming folks, people of color, and low-income people oppressed.