Using just the facts, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo today knocked down the oft-advanced but false claim that allowing transgender people to use the restrooms that comport with their gender identity will somehow enable male predators to attack women and children.
On New Day, Cuomo was interviewing Peter Sprigg, a spokesman for the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, about the new North Carolina law that bars any city from enacting or enforcing LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination protections and prohibits trans people from using the sex-segregated public facilities that match their gender identity.
The law is reflective of culture, Cuomo said: "This is about what people in a state like and don't like."
"Well, I agree that it's about culture and it has always been a part, not only of our culture but of every culture that has ever existed, that we separate biological males and biological females for the purpose of certain intimate activities the like bathing, dressing, and going to the bathroom. And that's all that this bill provides, is retaining the status quo with respect to that long-standing tradition."
"But times change," Cuomo countered. "And that's what this is really about. Are you ready to change in North Carolina? Are you ready to respect transgender people for what they say they are? Because you can't point to any potential danger here. I know that's what you are doing and others are doing, saying there is a risk to women. But we don't see that play out in any statistic that you can cite."
He added that there is a risk to transgender people when they are forced to use the wrong restroom for their gender identity.
Sprigg couldn't come up with any concrete evidence to contradict Cuomo -- the "restroom predator" myth has been widely debunked -- but he said women and girls will feel their privacy has been violated if they see someone in their restroom "who is obviously a man." "It is a privacy issue," he said. "Even if their safety is never violated in practice."
Cuomo then pointed out that laws like this would force transgender men into women's restrooms, saying, "You're creating the problem. You're not solving it."
Sprigg responded, "No, No. The transgender people are creating the problem by pretending to be the opposite of their actual biological sex even when people can see that they are their biological sex."
Cuomo jumped on the "pretending" comment: "You're saying they're pretending. They're saying they're not pretending. And this is part of cultural evolution. You seem unwilling to embrace that."
Sprigg answered definitively: "I am unwilling to embrace that."
Watchdog group Media Matters for America has criticized CNN for featuring Sprigg, as his organization is designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization. Sprigg was also interviewed by Don Lemon on CNN Friday. Media Matters did, however, praise Cuomo's debunking of the faulty rationale behind laws like North Carolina's.
Cuomo, by the way, is the brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who last year used his executive power to ban discrimination based on gender identity in the state.
Watch his exchange with Sprigg below, courtesy of Media Matters.