The right's ludicrous anti-trans crusade just got even dumber: Why the plot to ransack Target's bathrooms makes literally no sense

Activists have announced plans to protest trans-friendly bathrooms by... sending men into women's bathrooms?

Published May 5, 2016 3:55PM (EDT)

 (AP/Steven Senne)
(AP/Steven Senne)

Adding to the conservative movement's list of bizarre fetishes that include firearms, Leviticus and human embryos, they seem to be unnaturally obsessed with bathrooms these days. The latest episode of ridiculousness from the ongoing death-rattle of social conservatism comes to us from bathrooms in Target stores. Much to the chagrin of conservatives who apparently still think the solution to everything is to let the free market decide, the popular retail giant recently exercised its free market rights by deciding to allow customers to use the bathroom appropriate to their gender identity.

Of course, small government conservatives are refusing to allow Target to decide its bathroom policy for itself. Case in point: the radical far-right group the American Family Association is directly challenging Target's decision by deliberately sending men into the women's bathrooms in multiple stores.

According to Breitbart (via), AFA Director of Governmental Affairs Sandy Rios said the following:

"I think there’s no question that when you say that there are no barriers in the bathroom, and that if men or women feel like they are men or women, the opposite of however they are equipped, and you have no restrictions, the net effect will be, people will not be stopped."

Rios added:

"We’ve already had people testing this, going into Targets and men trying to go into bathrooms. There is absolutely no barrier."

It's a vast understatement to observe that the AFA's entire experiment is badly flawed. What they're suggesting here is that a rule designed to allow transgender customers to use the gender-appropriate bathroom is the same as random men entering the women's restroom. The stupendous disconnect here is obvious to anyone who understands what it means to be transgender as opposed to simply being a guy in the wrong restroom.

But the AFA and the broader toity-patrol believes that such a rule will allow men to randomly use whatever bathroom they choose, even though those men clearly don't identify as women. What's further puzzling about this display of defiance by the AFA is the fact that they're protesting men entering women's bathrooms... by sending men into women's bathrooms. This is not unlike protesting same-sex marriage laws by having two conservative straight men get married.

Regardless, Target's policy does not allow men to use the women's bathroom, or vice-versa. Likewise, there are well-known stacks of laws that expressly forbid men from going into women's bathrooms -- public or private -- and molesting unsuspecting girls or women. The AFA doesn't seem to understand the concept that, non-discrimination laws aside, molesting anyone in any bathroom is punishable with prison sentences.

In other words, if conservatives are truly concerned about molestation or rape in bathrooms, perhaps they should spend more time defending rape and molestation victims and less time demonizing them by either assuming they're lying, or by forcing rape victims to birth the offspring of their rapists. Instead, they're mounting their last stand in the culture wars at the door to Target bathrooms where it's possible that 0.3 percent of the population might pee in the bathroom they feel most comfortable with.

Making matters worse for the AFA and their GOP cohorts is the fact that in the 17 states and 225 cities with non-discrimination laws on the books, there hasn't been a single instance of rapists or molesters exploiting those laws to assault women or girls. Not one case. But now that conservatives have crapped their cages over these laws, while, concurrently, the AFA sends random dudes into the wrong bathrooms in order to protest random dudes going into the wrong bathrooms, they've officially injected the idea of exploiting the law for those nefarious ends into the bloodstream of the nation, likely influencing would-be criminals. They've invented a crisis to match their paleo-solution, not unlike their crusade against (statistically non-existent) voter fraud.

Meanwhile, conservatives have resoundingly rejected legislation that would've prevented suspects on the terrorist watch-list from buying firearms. They're also wandering into Target stores with loaded military-style assault rifles. So, according to Republicans, terrorists can buy guns to carry out mass shootings on American soil, and radical gun owners can parade loaded weapons in Target stores, but transgender people can't relieve themselves in Target bathrooms. The terrorist thing, they say, is unconstitutional and not enough of a crisis to demand the loophole be closed. And yet this non-existent bathroom threat is worthy of boycotts, outrage and legislation like North Carolina's HB2. Within in the far-right bubble, it all makes sense. But for the rest of us, it's nothing more than dangerous gibberish.

By Bob Cesca

Bob Cesca is a regular contributor to Salon. He's also the host of "The Bob Cesca Show" podcast, and a weekly guest on both the "Stephanie Miller Show" and "Tell Me Everything with John Fugelsang." Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Contribute through LaterPay to support Bob's Salon articles -- all money donated goes directly to the writer.


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Anti-trans Discrimination Target