Metro Weekly

Ted Cruz uses trans bathroom panic to garner votes

Cruz campaign using transgender issue to attack Donald Trump as "one of the PC police"

Ted Cruz - Gage Skidmore/flickr
Ted Cruz – Gage Skidmore/flickr

Socially conservative warrior Ted Cruz is back. After trying to position himself as the “true conservative” in comparison to Donald Trump, the Texas senator’s rigid ideology has reappeared on the campaign trail, this time armed with an issue he believes will gain traction: transgender bathroom use.

Cruz, trailing in the polls, and, even more significantly, in the delegate count, cracked an anti-transgender joke at the expense of his chief rivals, Trump and Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, during a campaign stop in Lebanon, Indiana, the New York Daily News reports.

“Let me make this real, real simple for our folks in the media who find this conversation very confusing,” Cruz said. “If Donald Trump dresses up like Hillary Clinton, he still can’t go to the girl’s bathroom.”

The comments come after Trump expressed his opposition to North Carolina’s new HB 2 law, part of which mandates that transgender and gender-nonconforming people be forced to use only the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. 

“North Carolina, what they’re going through with all the business that’s leaving, and all the strife — that’s on both sides, leave it the way it is,” Trump said during a Today town hall. “There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go. They use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble.”

In response, Cruz’s campaign released an attack ad talking about the issue of transgender people being able to use the restroom, using well-worn tropes that have been regurgitated by the Right over the years, such as the idea that transgender people pose a risk to women and young girls in intimate settings, such as in public restrooms.

The ad, titled “Appropriate,” features still black-and-white photos spliced together with a clip of Trump’s answer from the town hall. The text from the video reads as follows:

“Should a grown man, pretending to be a woman, be allowed to use the women’s restroom? The same restroom used by your daughter? Your wife? Donald Trump thinks so.

It’s not appropriate. It’s not safe. It’s PC nonsense that’s destroying America. Donald Trump won’t take on the PC police. He’s one of them.”

In tying Trump to the transgender community, Cruz is hoping to stoke fears of the transgender community utilizing the decades-old stereotype of LGBT people as sexual predators, in the hope of energizing social conservatives and prompting them to cast their votes for him.

Cruz’s ramping up of anti-transgender rhetoric also coincides with an incident at a campaign rally in Frederick, Md., where transgender teenager James Van Kuilenburg and his mother were asked to leave and escorted out of the event at the request of Cruz campaign staffers. Van Kuilenburg said he had appeared at the event, draped in a transgender pride flag, in order to show Cruz supporters that anti-LGBT rhetoric has consequences for people like him.

Trans United Fund, a recently formed national transgender organization, blasted Cruz’s ad, its misleading assumptions, and the fears it seeks to exploit.

“Last week, a collection of over 250 anti-sexual assault and domestic violence groups, led by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, came out against North Carolina’s House Bill 2, affirming that it does absolutely nothing to reduce assault. In fact, it puts transgender people at even greater risk of violence than they already are,” said Alison Gill, one of the founders of Trans United Fund. 

“…Candidate Cruz has a lot to learn, not only about this kind of legislation, but about transgender people in general and who this legislation really puts at risk,” Gill continued. “If he wants to be considered seriously as he must stop pandering to the extreme. Like all transgender people, I simply want to use the restroom appropriate for me and be able to live my life with safety and dignity.

“This ad by the Cruz campaign is a direct assault on transgender people and is not just untrue but dangerous and irresponsible,” she added. “As the public learns more about transgender people and the many challenges and discrimination we face, we are confident that this national conversation will result in a better understanding of the transgender community and lead to more equal treatment and respect for all, regardless of gender identity and expression.”

Wayne Maines, a Maine resident and the father of an 18-year-old transgender daughter who has since become a pro-transgender advocate, also criticized Cruz’s stance.

“I will be honest. It was not long ago I had a hard time saying the word ‘transgender,’ but watching my child suffer, watching grown men and women lose their perspective because they feared my child, forced me to dig deep into my core and address my fears, educate myself, and get to know more about the transgender community,” Maines said.

“Mr. Cruz,  I would be happy to sit down with you and have a ‘non-politically correct’ conversation. Man to man, father to father and if you have the courage to do so, I may help you conquer this fear,” he continued. “I have witnessed young people and adults demonstrate more courage than you and I can fathom, courage that inflicted scars that can be avoided if we have the courage to change. … I have learned more about freedom watching people attack a community of Americans that just want live their lives in peace, work, and be with their loved ones.  They are not attempting to break down the American family; they are not trying to pretend to be someone they are not; they are not ‘confused.’ They know who they are and what they stand for. I hope everyone running for President has the courage to dig deep and realize that our family values must continue to adapt to an ever-changing world.”

See Ted Cruz’s attack ad below:

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