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Not In My Name

Yesterday, with an efficiency that would have been impressive were it not so horrific, the North Carolina GOP called a special session of the General Assembly, introduced and passed a bill gutting local anti-discrimination protections, and got the Republican governor Pat McCrory to promptly sign it into law.

The new legislation strips the private right of action from the the state’s existing anti-discrimination statutes (gutting remedies for victims of race, gender, and other forms of discrimination). It precludes municipalities from passing local anti-discrimination ordinances that are more protective than the state’s existing laws. (So much for the GOP’s supposed concern for local autonomy!) And it bans trans students from using school restrooms in accordance with their gender identities (in violation of federal law).

The whole package is worse than anything we’ve seen yet — a personal best for conservatives — but is of a piece with other transmisogynist efforts across the country that share one common justification underlying them all: a supposed concern for the “safety” and “privacy” of women and girls. Which, given the Republican Party’s bad habit of victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and gutting anti-harassment protections, would be laughable if it weren’t so damn violent.

This is hate pure and simple — hate that perpetuates rape myths and denies trans students the protections they desperately need. It’s absurd that I even need to say this but: there is no evidence suggesting that policies allowing trans students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identities harm cis women and girls in any way. No evidence at all. The facts have long been clear: Cis men are the vast majority of perpetrators of sexual violence, rapists don’t typically attack in public spaces like bathrooms, and the students disproportionately likely to be victimized aren’t cis women: they’re trans women.

Anti-trans legislation is just the latest in the GOP’s efforts to co-opt feminist anti-violence activism to advance its own discriminatory, dangerous agenda, all under the guise of paternalist protection. It’s an effort that some so-called “feminists” have directly pushed for decades. It’s one in which we’re all complicit if we don’t speak out against it.

So if you’re an anti-sexual violence organizer, speak up and reject the GOP’s blatant co-optation of your activism. (Your activist group can sign onto Know Your IX’s letter here.)

If you’re a feminist, denounce TERFs’ continuing complicity in state-sanctioned discrimination.

If you’re a survivor of violence, condemn the GOP’s violent perpetuation of transmisogynistic rape myths.

And if you’re a cis woman like me — on whose behalf so many politicians have claimed to act — refuse to be their justification for discrimination, their excuse to enact violence on trans students, any longer.

Header image via.

New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a senior editor at Feministing.com and the co-founder (and former ED) of Know Your IX, a national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, USA Today, and The Nation. She's a 1L at Yale Law School.

Dana Bolger is the co-founder of Know Your IX and a senior editor at Feministing.

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