Ted Cruz Loves To Protect Kids, Unless They're Transgender Kids
Each day I find myself stumbling upon another tone-deaf potent quotable from Sen. Ted Cruz. This time, I saw Cruz made ignorant, fear-mongering statements about transgender people — and more specifically trans children. In an interview with Glenn Beck on April 21, Cruz said that the Obama administration was "try[ing] to force junior highs to let teenage boys shower with teenage girls" while referring to Title IX cases of young transgender teens who are just trying to use the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identities.
To add insult to injury, or ignorance, Cruz went on to talk about the so-called "bathroom bills," like the one in North Carolina, saying "when you deal with people who are repulsive perverts and criminals, you need to —there are some bad people in the world, and we shouldn’t be facilitating putting little girls alone in a bathroom with grown adult men."
Cruz took on the issue with the antagonistic and dismissive "can you believe these insane liberals now?" tone that we've come to expect from the Texas senator — and totally missed the importance of this issue. Granted, Cruz has made just as bad, if not worse, transphobic remarks since the Beck interview. On Saturday, he made the completely unfunny "joke" that, "Even if Donald Trump dresses up as Hillary Clinton, he shouldn’t be using the girls’ restroom."
But his remarks from this interview with Beck rankles me more than his usual garbage because it both targets minors and willfully ignores the realities of these trans kids by promoting some incredibly harmful myths. Namely, I view Cruz as playing to myths that claim that trans people are likely to commit crimes or violence if they're allowed to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity or that predators will take advantage of laws protecting trans people to go into bathrooms and commit crimes.
This response of "trans panic" is a huge problem for a myriad of reasons — but, first and foremost, it contributes to a widespread false narrative of trans people as deviants or likely to commit sexual violence. It contributes to a narrative that cis people (particularly women) need to be "protected" (from a non-existent danger) at the cost of trans individuals' liberties and safety. Perhaps most unfortunately, it contributes to the demeaning treatment of young trans people who deserve to feel safe in their schools (and everywhere) when they need to use the restroom.
The reality is: There have been no cases of a sexual predators posing as trans individuals to commit crimes. None. As Carlos Maza and Luke Brinker at MediaMatters.org report:
Experts in 12 states — including law enforcement officials, government employees, and advocates for victims of sexual assault — have debunked the right-wing myth that sexual predators will exploit transgender non-discrimination laws to sneak into women's restrooms, calling the myth baseless and "beyond specious."
In addition to the complete lack of validity or evidence to these kinds of claims made by people like Cruz, they willfully ignore the reality that trans individuals are significantly more likely to be victims of violence or abuse while trying to use a public bathroom facility. One study from the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute found that 70 percent of transgender people interviewed said they were "denied entrance, were harassed or assaulted when attempting to use a public restroom of their identifying gender."
The Transgender Law Center's "Peeing In Peace" guide further examined the difficulties and larger complications faced by trans people who are just trying to do their thing:
For many transgender people, finding a safe place to use the bathroom is a daily struggle. Even in cities or towns that are generally considered good places to be transgender (like San Francisco or Los Angeles), many transgender people are harassed, beaten and questioned by authorities in both women’s and men’s rooms ... Because of this, many transgender people avoid public bathrooms altogether and can develop health problems as a result. This not only affects people who think of themselves as transgender, but also many others who express their gender in a non-stereotypical way but who may not identify as transgender (for instance, a masculine woman or an effeminate man).
Essentially, it's a baseless myth that Cruz is perpetuating — and it's not only denying trans people everyday liberties, but also putting them at a greater risk overall by fanning fires of fear and ignorance.