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Believing in – and lying about – monsters

This Chron editorial about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and the frenzied, fanatical opposition to it gets right to the heart of the matter.

On its face, there is nothing controversial in the NDO. One could even claim that it is rather conservative, in the sense that this policy has been tested elsewhere time and again. The ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of categories already covered by federal law. It also extends protections to gay and transgender residents, following nondiscrimination laws that other cities and states have had on the books for years. Religious organizations and small businesses are exempted, and the maximum fine is $5,000.

But the rather staid nature of the nondiscrimination ordinance has not stopped opponents (mostly a few limited political and religious groups) from labeling it the “Sexual Predator Protection Act” and pursuing a ballot referendum to eliminate the new law.

The crux of this ad hominem invective is that opening the doors of civil society to transgender people – including restroom doors – will somehow also benefit criminals. This is an accusation based more in fear than fact.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. More than 160 cities and counties have passed their own individual laws, including Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans. Dallas has had similar protections for a decade. Minnesota first prohibited discrimination against transgender folks in public accommodations more than 20 years ago. Even the Houston Independent School District added a transgender category to its nondiscrimination policy in 2011.

Houstonians have patiently studied these others’ experiences, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. A city of sex criminals run amok only exists in the perverse fantasies of those prone to moral panics, desperately yearning for evidence that their fears were rightly founded. That evidence simply does not exist beyond the anecdotal urban legend.

Emphasis mine. I don’t know if anyone on the Chron editorial board reads The Slacktivist, but the subject of people – in particular, evangelical Christians – inventing monsters to be afraid of and stand in opposition to is one he has examined on multiple occasions. They are lying, and they have no excuse for it. What’s more, they know they’re lying, which is even more evidence of their wrongness. I’m clearly not as cynical as I sometimes think I am, because the lying – the brazenness of it, the ease with which they do it, the utter lack of compunction or conscience about it – still shocks me. But the facts speak for themselves.

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One Comment

  1. Katy Anders says:

    Yes!

    During the debate over the ordinance – and during the hours and hours of public comment before the Council – no one pointed to a single example of similar ordinances in other cities launching an army of men into women’s restrooms to grab up 6-year old girls.

    No one explained why it is even theoretically possible – why it isn’t happening now (these people would be criminals, who don’t usually wait around for an ordinance, after all).

    It just didn’t make much sense unless you thought of it as simply an example of the general public’s lack of understanding of transgender issues.

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