Bless Dan Savage for making time to get on TV and make sense of the world. On last week’s Real Time with Bill Maher, he got into a short scrape with Ann Coulter — yeah, that lady. She’s still around. Doing something, though it’s unclear what.
The topic turned to trans people using bathrooms, as part of a discussion of how bigots freak out whenever freedoms are expanded to a group that they don’t like. “The Kim Davises of the world are like ‘what about our rights to take away your rights’?” Bill observes.
Dan, wearing a fetching jacket that was almost definitely picked out by his husband, replies, “they couldn’t demagogue about gays and lesbians because too many of us are out and too many people know us, so they took the same old script, ‘oh they’re recruiting children, preying on children, creeping in bathrooms,’ that was what they said about gay men 40 years ago, and they’re just taking it and applying it now to trans women. And it’s bullshit, trans women and men use bathrooms all over the country and have forever. And they have no cases to point to where a trans person has exploited a civil rights protection to prey on a child.”
“It’s not that transgender people are going to go and molest children,” says Ann Coulter, trying to tear down his point. “it’s that once you say men can go into women’s bathrooms, men who are out shopping with their little daughters, it’s not that the trans are going to molest them, it’s that a child molester now has the right to go into that bathroom.”
Dan won’t let that stand: “That’s bullshit, a child molester doesn’t need to put on a dress to enter bathrooms. You can google ‘sexually assaulted in a restroom’ and you get thousands of examples of cisgender straight men.” (Actually, that’s not true anymore — if you try to search for information about sexual assaults in bathrooms, now you mostly get results about from exasperated sexual assault experts debunking the trans bathroom panic myth.)
“You know who the child molester is? It’s Dennis Hastert,” says Maher.
Dan’s right, of course, that banning trans people from bathrooms doesn’t protect anyone. Women are assaulted in bathrooms by men all the time, and it’s not because they used trans-inclusive policies as cover.
But Dan missed one loathsome point from Ann that could have stood some debunking: allowing trans people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender doesn’t mean “men can go into women’s bathrooms.” That’s because trans women are women.