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Kamala Harris just flipped the ‘bathroom predator’ myth on its head – and it’s perfect

Reiss Smith October 11, 2019
Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris spoke about trans rights at an LGBT+ town hall event. (Getty)

Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris deftly subverted the trope of trans women as “bathroom predators” during an LGBT+ town hall event.

Harris and eight other Democratic candidates – including frontrunners Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren – assembled on Thursday night, October 10, to discuss their LGBT+ rights plans.

Topics ranged from healthcare to homelessness, to the crisis of LGBT+ youth suicide.

But it was on the lives of trans women – particularly trans women of colour – that Harris made the biggest impact.

The Californian senator was asked how she would work to ensure that all trans people are protected and treated equally across the US.

“The safety of our transgender community is still very much at risk,” she began, explaining that she would seek to help people “see the commonality in the issue”.

“There’s not a woman in her 20s who is not afraid of being raped,” she said, adding that the same is true for the trans community.

Journalist Mary Emily O’Hara said that the analogy “flipped the whole ‘bathroom predator’ myth on its head”. referring to the common (and false) anti-trans refrain that trans women pose a threat to cis women when allowed to access single sex spaces such as public restrooms.

During her speech, Harris put “racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-semitism, [and] Islamophobia” on a level pegging.

“There is not a mother of a black son, the day that baby is born, that is not concerned about his safety,” she said.

“The same is probably true for the Jewish mother, or the Muslim mother, or the mother of anyone who is LGBTQ.

“What we have to understand is that we have whole populations of people who, often from they day they were born, know that their body is capable of being harmed physically.”

We have whole populations of people who, often from they day they were born, know that their body is capable of being harmed.

Referring back to her own experiences working with the trans community, she touched on the issue of intersectionality.

“When you compound race with being transgender you are doubly exposed, and if you are Latina or Latino and you are an undocumented immigrant, or you are in the system in any way.”

When asked to spell out explicitly how she would stem the onslaught of violence against black trans women, Harris said that there must be “serious consequence and accountability,” and spoke about her efforts to quash the trans panic defence while serving as San Francisco’s district attorney.

“There needs to be a safe place for members of our transgender community to go when they have been exposed to that kind of harm,” she added.

Earlier in the night, Harris made the groundbreaking move of introducing herself along with her preferred pronouns – an act which was swiftly mocked by CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

More: Democratic presidential nomination, kamala harris, trans bathroom rights, US Election 2020

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