Transgender and LGBT rights issues have ignited a national debate so big that it raises the question of what’s next.
President Barack Obama set off a firestorm last week by recommending public schools allow transgender students to use the restroom of their choice. The move came shortly after North Carolina lawmakers approved HB2. The law mandates that people use whatever bathroom corresponds to their birth gender.
Reactions have been strong by people on both sides of the issue.
Some Oklahoma state lawmakers are calling for Obama’s impeachment. LGBT activists pressured a Virginia college to fire a staffer for making an off-color remark. On Thursday, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives helped defeat legislation to protect LGBT people who work for government contractors.
Supporters say allowing transgender people to use the rest room of their choice is a show of respect and kindness. Transgender people can face workplace discrimination, difficulty in obtaining identification documents, and bullying and violence.
But opponents say that opening up restrooms, locker rooms, and fitting rooms to all genders poses serious safety and privacy implications for women – and their rights matter, too. Generally, these concerns are aimed at straight men that would use the new policies to harass or assault women.
Questions are also being raised about why transgender rights are such a key focus of the White House.
It does not appear the issue will go away any time soon, as legal and civil rights issues remain outstanding on both sides.
At least one instance of a worst-case-scenario has already surfaced.
A female shopper at a Ross department store in Mesquite, Texas, reported she was a startled after hearing a man talking in a deep voice while she was in the dressing room.
Customer Lisa Sticklers told CBS DFW 11 in Dallas that she complained to a store manager. But she was told to stay out of the dressing room if she felt uncomfortable.
“She (the manager) went inside the dressing room, came right back out and called me to the side and told me… he was representing himself as a woman today,” Stickles told Channel 11.
But the man was neither effeminate, nor wearing female attire. He had a five o’clock shadow and was wearing a t-shirt and jeans.
Target stores in April adopted an “open” restroom policy to accommodate transgender people and make them feel more comfortable in stores.
Despite a boycott by conservatives, Target’s CEO, Brian Cornell, has publicly said the policy has not hurt sales nation-wide. Target’s announcement in April came shortly after North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill to eliminate ordinances that protect LGBT people from discrimination.
Angered by the move, Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma introduced a resolution Thursday that would start the process to impeach Obama.
Also this week, retired Army General William Boykin was fired then reinstated from his teaching post at a Virginia college for making an off-color joke about open restroom access.
LGBT activists complained to Hampden-Sydney college after Boykin said before a conservative group: “The first man who goes into the restroom with my daughter will not have to worry about surgery.”
Boykin, a former Delta Force commander, later clarified that he was not talking about transgender individuals, but rather men who could try to take advantage of the new rules.
Theories abound as to why the White House could be so interested in transgender rights.
Not one to mince words, Infowars talk show host Alex Jones offered his take during a recent broadcast.
“Obama is obsessing, saying he’ll sue Texas, sue North Carolina, if we don’t teach five-year-olds how to be trannies,” said Jones, referring to multiple news reports, one of which includes a five-year-old girl who wants to be a boy.
Jones went on to say he believes Michelle Obama is actually a man, and that is the reason the president is “obsessing” over the issue. He pointed to dozens of YouTube videos on the topic that have millions of views.
Earlier this month, Obama appointed Barbara Satin, a transgender person who was born as a man, to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships. According to the White House website, Satin is a member of the United Church of Christ and is active with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
E.T. Williams of the YouTube channel The Doctor Of Common Sense, said that most people are not cross-dressers, and the issue does not merit the level of attention it is receiving.
“I don’t want to hear about it,” he said.
Williams said he is shocked the public has put up with everything our elected officials have been doing for so long.
“We should have already removed Barack Obama out of office, we should have already moved the congressmen and senators out of office, with all of the crap they keep doing,” he said.
[Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images]