If you’ve found yourself a bit confuddled about the all the outrage regarding the Trump administration’s revocation of federal protections for transgender children, which allowed them to use the bathroom of their choice in public schools (aka the bathroom that is in line with their gender identity versus their assigned biological sex), let Laverne Cox, actress, Emmy winner, 2014 Glamour Woman of the Year, 2015 People magazine Most Beautiful Woman, 2015 Time Most Influential Person and LGBT activist, explain it to you.
On February 23, Cox appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, alongside Mara Keisling, the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, to debate some dude named Travis Weber from the Family Research Council who’s apparently made it his mission to single-handedly protect little boys and girls across the nation. Weber’s defense of Trump’s withdrawal of the Obama-era protections, which interprets Title IX, a federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools, as including gender identity had nothing to do with whether such protections should be handled at the district, state or federal level. That argument is at heart of Trump’s decision to rescind the guidance, but Weber’s defense boiled down to something else entirely. “Students in high school [are harmed by this],” he said. “A 14-year-old in the locker room, someone comes in with male genitalia? Of course they’re going to be harmed.”
But Cox was not there to play, and she quickly shut down Weber’s severely sexist remarks. “I think it’s important when we have converations with and about transgender people that we do not reduce us to body parts. We are more than the sum of our parts and it’s so deeply objectifying and dehumanizing to talk about trans people and reduce us to body parts. That is really distubing.”
In those three sentences, Cox adequately sums up what the supposed “bathroom bill” is really about. Since it was issued, opponents of Obama’s guidance have used the argument of federal (and executive-branch) overreach to defend why public schools shouldn’t be forced to allow transgender children to use the bathroom of their choice. That defense is merely a cloak, as Weber clumsily points out, on some missplaced fear that transgender people are likely to “harm” others in locker rooms and bathrooms when in fact, there is no data suggesting that transgender people are more likely to be perpetrators of sexual crimes. In fact, the exact opposite is true. In 2009, for example, half of all people who died as a result of hate crimes against the LGBT community were transgender women. Half.
So thank you, Laverne Cox, and Mara Keisling and Janet Mock and Gavin Grimm and other trans activists for your continued, educated clarifications against bogus claims. As Cox so finely states, “trans people have a right to exist in society.”
Watch the exchange here: