An anti-trans group has acknowledged the failure of bathroom predator scare-mongering tactics in the Massachusetts referendum on transgender rights protections.
The realisation came as part of an analysis of the failure of the anti-trans campaign published on the website of MassResistance, an organisation claiming to advocate for family rights. The hate crime watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center classifies MassResistance as a anti-LGBT hate group.
The question of repealing a non-discrimination law protecting transgender rights was posed on the ballot during November’s midterm elections.
Voters in Massachusetts overwhelmingly opted to keep Senate Bill 2407, the 2016 measure that enforces protections against “discrimination in places of public accommodation, resort, or amusement.”
MassResistance described arguments based on bathroom predator scenarios as “concocted”
The MassResistance analysis on the anti-trans campaign’s defeat criticised the focus on the so-called “bathroom safety” argument—the baseless claim that non-discrimination laws expose women-only spaces to sexual predators.
During the referendum campaign, anti-trans groups produced a visual interpretation of the argument, creating a video ad that trans campaigners criticised as “fear-mongering” and relying on “lies.”
The video featured a scene in which a man hides in a toilet cubicle as a teenage girl walks in and begins to undress as the man peers out of the cubicle.
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The MassResistance post, which does not have an author—but presumably reflects the viewpoint of the group’s founder and president, Brian Camenker—described the “bathroom safety” argument as “technically true, but was largely contrived.”
“Our side concocted the ‘bathroom safety’ male predator argument as a way to avoid an uncomfortable battle over LGBT ideology, and still fire up people’s emotions.”
It also advised future anti-trans activists to propose “more inflammatory alternative arguments” such as rejecting “the LGBT movement’s ‘civil rights’ argument” and describe being trans as “a mental disorder and a destructive ideology.”
MassResistance argued that the “bathroom safety” argument is no longer effective, claiming that the “LGBT+ lobby” has understood how to defeat it—without elaborating on how or why this may be the case.
“Our side concocted the ‘bathroom safety’ male predator argument as a way to avoid an uncomfortable battle over LGBT ideology, and still fire up people’s emotions,” the post read.
“But the LGBT lobby has now figured out how to beat it. Their lopsided victory in Massachusetts will likely be repeated everywhere else unless the establishment pro-family groups (and their wealthy donors) are willing to change their tactics.”
Empirical research shows bathroom predator claims are baseless
The post glides over other explanations why voters may be supporting non-discrimination bills protecting transgender rights.
The California-based Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy studied the impact of Senate Bill 2407.
Researchers analysed data for a period before and after the 2016 bill passed, comparing criminal incident reports related to assault, sex crimes and voyeurism in public restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms between locations in Massachusetts that enforced trans-inclusive policies versus those that did not.
Findings indicated that reports decreased after the bill was passed. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Sexuality Research and Social Policy in July and concluded that “fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws are not empirically grounded.”