Michelle Duggar, an American reality TV star famous for a show about her very large family called 19 Kids and Counting, has recorded a transphobic voice message (or ‘robocall’) in opposition to an anti-discrimination bill currently under consideration in Arkansas.
‘I’m calling to inform you of some shocking news that would affect the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children,’ the message begins. She goes on to describe the ordinance as ‘an ordinance… that would allow men—yes, I said men—to use women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only.’
She adds, ‘I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space.’
City Attorney Kit Williams released a statement saying that these arguments are ‘nothing more than fear-mongering.’‘This ordinance does allow transgender people to use the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable and physically safe. Transgender people…are far more likely to be the victims of harassment and violence if forced to use a bathroom that is inconsistent with their gender identity… [They] deserve to have the ability to use the bathroom in peace and safety.’
The idea that transgender individuals will use anti-discrimination or equal rights bills to harass women in bathrooms has been widely used over the past forty years as an attempt to stall such bills from passing. In the 1970s, the Equal Rights Amendment was infamously shot down because conservative activists said that it would lead to widespread sexual assault by transgender individuals.
Last month, the Human Rights Campaign released a survey about LGBT discrimination in Arkansas which found that 45% of respondents suffered harassment at school, 37% experienced harassment at work, 25% experienced employment discrimination.