The furor over Houston’s nondiscrimination law, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, has been intensifying since July, when the Texas Supreme Court ordered that it be repealed or put to a popular vote this November. But things got downright nasty in recent days with the release of one of the most blatantly transphobic pieces of propaganda I have ever seen. Despite the fact that HERO forbids discrimination based on 15 different traits, opponents of the measure have made Houston’s transgender citizens their scapegoats. The anti-HERO ad in question—produced by Campaign for Houston—follows the now-familiar strategy of suggesting that protecting the right of transgender women to use the correct public restroom will endanger “real women” by opening the door for male sexual predators to sneak in under the disguise of trans. This myth, we should repeat ad nauseum, has been proved false—there are no known cases of a man going through the elaborate process of pretending to be trans in order to assault women in the restroom. But unfortunately, facts had no place in the creation of this misleading and offensive ad:
As trans folks have pointed out time and again over the course of these exhausting bathroom wars, they are just trying to pee in the facility both appropriate and safe for their gender identity. To suggest, as this ad does, that they are trying to corner little girls in bathroom stalls is, to echo Jonathan Capehart, horribly perverse. HERO opponents may think they are trying to “protect women” with this sort of hurtful rhetoric, but they’re really just revealing the depths of their prejudice.