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James Dobson: Be a Man, Shoot a Trans Woman in the Bathroom

James Dobson: Be a Man, Shoot a Trans Woman in the Bathroom

James Dobson
James Dobson

In a new column, the Christian right leader promotes the "bathroom predator" myth in a big way and suggests a violent reponse. 

James Dobson, a conservative Christian leader who helped found two anti-LGBT groups, has a suggestion for those who object to transgender women's presence in women's restrooms: Shoot them.

"If you are a married man with any gumption, surely you will defend your wife's privacy and security in restroom facilities," Dobson writes in a column published this week on the far-right site WND. He imagines such scenarios as "a strange-looking man, dressed like a woman ... peering over toilet cubicles to watch your wife in a private moment" and "men who walk in unannounced, unzip their pants and urinate in front of [little girls]."

"If this had happened 100 years ago, someone might have been shot," he continues. "Where is today's manhood? God help us!"

The lewd behaviors Dobson describes are certainly not associated with transgender women, and they would be a crime no matter what any law says about restroom access for trans people. And he appears to be encouraging, or at least condoning, violence against trans people -- trans women, in particular; his column says almost nothing about trans men.

"It is not clear if Dobson is aware that he is using the language of protecting a woman's honor by killing those who might violate it, but his language is reminiscent of the ways that mobs were whipped up to hang black men and boys for perceived slights to white women," Lorraine Berry writes at Raw Story. And The New Civil Rights Movement's David Badash notes, "It's really not much of a stretch to say Dobson is telegraphing a call to violent action to those who read between the lines."

The fears expressed by Dobson -- and other right-wingers who suggest taking up arms against restroom "predators" -- are wholly unfounded. In the more than 200 localities across the country that allow trans folks to use the bathroom that most closely corresponds with their gender identity, there's never been a single case of a transgender person attacking someone else. There have also been no reports of a cisgender person pretending to be trans to enter the bathroom of the opposite sex. Similarly, law enforcement officials nationwide have rejected the claim that trans-inclusive policies lead to an uptick in harassment against women.

Here's the truth: Trans people are generally at much greater risk of harassment and violence in sex-segregated spaces than their cisgender (nontrans) peers, and that risk increases markedly when trans people are forced to use restrooms that do not match their gender identity.

Dobson also decries the Obama administration's recent recommendation that public schools allow trans students to use the restrooms, locker rooms, and so forth that match their gender identity. He calls Barack Obama "a tyrant" and "one of the worst presidents in American history," adding, "He is determined to change the way males and females relate to one another."

Dobson's view of how men and women should relate to each other is a patriarchal one, with rigid gender roles -- man as protector, woman in need of protection. And the idea of being anything other than heterosexual or cisgender is anathema to him.

These views are reflected in the organizations Dobson had a hand in founding, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Both are mainstays of the Christian right, and the latter is classified as a hate group by the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center because of the damaging lies it spreads about LGBT people (Focus, while still anti-LGBT, has moderated its rhetoric somewhat, according to the SPLC). Dobson also supported the famously antigay Sen. Ted Cruz in his ultimately unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination.

In the column, Dobson urges parents to "shield [children] from gender feminism and from those who would confuse their sexuality" and closes by saying, "We must fight to protect our homes and families from politically correct politicians who would create new entitlements that take away our liberties. There is no time to lose. Our children hang in the balance."

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