LISTEN: 19 Kids and Counting Star Records Transphobic Robocall
Michelle Duggar — best known for birthing 19 children and going on to star on TLC's 19 Kids and Counting — recently recorded a robocall that recycles transphobic myths in an attempt to drum up opposition to a nondiscrimination ordinance being considered in Fayetteville, Ark.
If passed, the ordinance in question would protect Fayetteville residents from being discriminated against in housing, employment, and public accommodations on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In her opposition to the bill, Duggar employs a number of thoroughly debunked conservative talking points about transgender people.
"Hello, this is Michelle Duggar," the robocall begins. "I’m calling to inform you of some shocking news that would affect the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children. The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that would allow men — yes, I said men — to use women's and girls' restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only.
"I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child. Parents, who do you want undressing next to your daughter at the public swimming pool’s private changing area?"
The recording was issued with support from Arkansas' Family Council, a conservative organization that claims that the bill would "infringe on the rights of churches as well as religious business people."
Jeremy Hooper, an out father, founder of Good As You, and LGBT activist who is among The Advocate's 40 under 40 honorees this year, tracked down a recording of the Duggar robocall. Listen to it below.
Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams issued a letter debunking many of the more outlandish claims being made by the bill's opponents, including those presented in Duggar's recording.
"The claim that this ordinance would provide predators with access to women's restrooms in order to assault or leer at girls or women is nothing more than fear-mongering," Williams wrote. "This ordinance does allow transgender people to use the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable and physically safe. Transgender people — who are far more likely to be the victims of harassment and violence if forced to use a bathroom that is inconsistent with their gender identity or expression — deserve to have the ability to use the bathroom in peace and safety."
Duggar and her family are devout Baptists, and their faith is a central feature of the popular reality show. The family frequently weighs in on political matters, having campaigned for Rick Santorum, headlined the right-wing Values Voters Summit, and even called for a boycott of the Girl Scouts after news broke that a Colorado troop allowed a 7-year-old transgender girl to join.
The ordinance will be voted on by the eight-member Fayetteville Council later today, and while supporters believe they have secured the necessary votes to pass the bill, they also expect conservative groups like the Family Council will launch an effort to overturn the ordinance through public referendum.