Back in February, Mike Huckabee was among the speakers at the International Christian Media Convention, sponsored by the National Religious Broadcasters. This week, the conservative site WorldNetDaily published a video of Huckbee’s remarks, which included a particularly notable rejection of transgender young people as part of a critique of gender identity nondiscrimination protections.
Referencing threats to religious liberty, Huckabee cited the following example: “The fact that we are now in city after city watching ordinances that say that your seven-year-old daughter, if she goes into the restroom, cannot be offended — and you can’t be offended — if she’s greeted there by a 42-year-old man who feels more like a woman than he does a man.”
“Now I wish somebody had told me when I was in high school, ” he continued, “that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in P.E. I’m pretty sure I would’ve found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.'”
Huckabee, a 2016 Republican presidential hopeful who recently defended Josh Duggar’s teenage molestation of his younger sisters as “not unforgivable,” would not have been able to abuse transgender nondiscrimination protections to humor his voyeuristic or exhibitionist tendencies as he suggested. A person’s gender identity does not change hour-to-hour nor day-to-day, and schools with inclusive policies work with families to arrange for students to begin identifying full-time with their authentic gender — consistent with the Department of Education’s recent guidance regarding the transgender protections inherent in Title IX. Some of California’s biggest school districts have had transgender protections for years and never had a single incident of bathroom misbehavior like Huckabee described. Not even statewide gender identity protections have resulted in any such problems.
Moreover, when it comes to safety and privacy concerns in the restroom, it is transgender people who are at risk, not those who might be in there with them. Studies have shown that transgender people face significantly high levels of discrimination and harassment when trying to use the restroom or similar facilities. Stories that express concern about transgender people in the restroom rarely speak to any forms of harassment, just discomfort about the person’s presence, even when they only see the person fully dressed.
Huckabee’s “joke” about finding an excuse to ogle teenage girls garnered laughs, but he was insistent about the gravity of his point: “You’re laughing because it sounds so ridiculous, doesn’t it? And yet today we’re the ones who are ridiculed and scorned because we point out the obvious: that there’s something inherently wrong with forcing little children to be a part of this social experiment. I’m not against anybody; I’d just like for somebody to bring their work someday and not leave it on the bed stand when they show up to govern.”
Michelle Duggar, as it happens, made the same claims about children’s safety when advocating against transgender nondiscrimination protections in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Thanks to scare-mongering like hers, the LGBT ordinance was repealed.