Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, probably wasn't expecting a tough interview when he got a call from Fox News. Yet only a few minutes passed before it was clear that Fox News host Megyn Kelly was not going to be friendly to Patrick's claims about transgender people and bathrooms.
The lieutenant governor was on Kelly's show to discuss his opposition to the Obama administration's guidelines for public schools, which told schools to let trans students use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. What followed was a very testy exchange — at one point, Patrick told Kelly she was missing the point, and she replied, "I don't think I'm missing anything."
Patrick insisted that letting trans people use the bathroom or locker room that corresponds with their gender identities would somehow allow men to sneak into women's bathrooms or locker rooms to sexually assault or harass women. And he talked on and on, making it difficult for Kelly to get many questions in.
Despite his attempts to filibuster the conversation, Kelly got in several prods about his position. Kelly pointed out that he was obfuscating trans women with men: "Allow men in the ladies' rooms, or allow trans women in ladies' rooms?"
Her question gets to a big issue in conversations about trans people in bathrooms and locker rooms: Often, opponents of trans-friendly policies ignore trans people's identities to make their points. Patrick, for one, said that "the transgender population is supposedly around three-tenths of 1 percent" and that any man who "feels like a woman" can take advantage of the policies — both remarks that seem to characterize trans people's identity as irrelevant or misleading.
But trans people and their identities are real, supported by science and their own experiences. The Obama administration's policies, along with other nondiscrimination measures that protect trans people, are not about non-trans men or sexual predators. They are about trans people who just want to be able to go to the bathroom in peace, and the government taking steps to make sure they can.
The lieutenant governor's talking points were built on a myth
What's more, Patrick's entire premise is false. He argued, "We will have problems in our schools if we have boys and girls showering together." (Again, he's using "boys" to refer to trans girls.) But several states and school districts have let trans people use the bathroom or locker room for their gender identity for years, and they have never reported major problems.
In two investigations, Media Matters confirmed with experts and officials in 12 states and 17 school districts with protections for LGBTQ people that they had no increases in sex crimes after they enacted LGBTQ protections.
Conservatives usually counter that there are examples of men sneaking into women's bathrooms to attack women. But as PolitiFact reported, none of the examples cited in the US happened after a city or state passed a nondiscrimination law or otherwise let trans people use the bathroom or locker room for their gender identity. Instead, these seem to be examples of men doing awful things regardless of the law — which has, unfortunately, happened since the beginning of civilization.
One example is a case in Toronto, Canada, which now has a nondiscrimination law, in which a man disguised himself as a woman and attacked women in shelters. But the attacks happened months before Ontario (Toronto's province) protected trans people in a nondiscrimination law. So the law couldn't have been the cause.
Yet the myth remains prominent. And even though there's no truth to it, it's frequently repeated on national television.