“Any man at any time could enter a women’s bathroom simply by claiming to be a woman that day. No one is exempt, even registered sex offenders.”
As the voiceover continues to explain the danger behind allowing transgender women to use women’s bathrooms, the black-and-white video shows a disturbing scene of a young school girl entering the public restroom alone when a faceless adult man, hiding in a toilet stall, jumps out corners her.
Some might say that the most offensive part of the TV commercial is the dripping faucet — aren’t these people aware that a dripping faucet can waste 3,000 gallons of water in a year? There are people in California’s drought who would be grateful to have those drips. Gosh.
Others would say that the commercial is just a flimsy attempt at restricting the rights of LGBT individuals in Texas by likening all transgender women to dangerous, predatory sex offenders.
Still others are asking the question, “Can’t any man enter a women’s bathroom at any time by just… opening the door?”
All three responses are true, except for one small detail: the commercial seems to be the exact opposite of “flimsy.” It’s part of a larger campaign in the city of Houston which is calling for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) to be repealed in a Nov. 3 ballot referendum, according to BuzzFeed.
On Tuesday, Houstonian voters will be asked:
Are you in favor of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Ord. No. 2014-530, which prohibits discrimination in city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment, and housing based on an individual’s sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy?
As The Guardian stated, it seems obvious that a law prohibiting such discrimination would pass without a hitch — especially considering that Houston is “the nation’s fourth-largest city, and one of its most diverse, where the three-term mayor is an openly lesbian Democrat.”
And yet, HERO has gained a lot of unpopularity because of the part about “public accommodations” and “gender identity.”
The anti-HERO group Campaign for Houston has zeroed in on the classic argument that transgender women, including those who have fully transitioned and those in the process of transitioning or changing gender identity, would endanger women and girls. Too many heterosexual, creepy men would prey upon their female victims in bathrooms, the group has argued.
Its TV commercial is just one of the many video and radio ads urging Houstonians to vote against HERO. When the Houston City Council passed HERO in May of last year, Mayor Annise Parker removed the section prohibiting businesses from denying bathroom access to a person if that bathroom is inconsistent with the biological gender assigned to the person at birth. Several conservative groups were unhappy with this concession, however, and demanded that the entire ordinance be repealed next week.
Summoning the popular “protect women’s rights” call-to-action, anti-HERO groups have been gaining traction in Texas. Bob McNair, owner of the NFL team the Houston Texans, donated $10,000 to the campaign (but later withdrew the money). The portable restroom company Texas Outhouse ironically donated $5,000 to the campaign as well.