The counting is not yet done, but early indications suggest that opponents of California’s new law protecting transgender students (AB 1266)will not have succeeded at collecting enough signatures to challenge its passage with a referendum. But the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), one of the groups working to overturn the law, has a plan for continuing to demonize transgender kids whether the referendum advances or not.
On a radio broadcast on November 16, PJI’s Brad Dacus explained that the group will continue to seek out “victims” — any student who has been made uncomfortable by a transgender classmate — to pursue a court case:
DACUS: If we for some strange reason they declare we did not have enough valid signatures, then we at Pacific Justice Institute are preparing to challenge this in federal court.
We don’t want to wait till after — to January first when we have the victims. And, the only way we can preemptively do this is if there’s parents out there — perhaps you’re listening to us — and your son or daughter knows that there’s at least one child in their school that claims to be a transgender [sic]. They claim that inside they have these feelings that they are the opposite sex. If that child can validate that this transgender [sic] has expressed their intention to use the opposite sex’s bathroom or locker room or showers, and they’re willing to come along side to be a plaintiff at our action, and if their child — and we’ll give anonymity, we’ll protect their identity — if they can do that, then they should contact us because that gives us standing to be able to have a preemptive action and to get this matter — to get injunction against this enforcement as a violation of the U.S. constitution’s right to privacy that it guarantees to all of us, including to young adolescents and other children. So, contact us at Pacific Justice Institute if you know anything about this, if you have any information like that.
Listen to it (via TransAdvocate):
It’s unclear what such a complaint would actually say, except that transgender students are using the bathroom. PJI has attempted to target one Colorado transgender student (“Jane Doe”) in just this way, but the campaign has not produced the results they seemed to be hoping for.
PJI originally claimed that Jane Doe was harassing other girls in the restroom at Florence High School, but the school’s superintendent explained that Jane Doe did no harassing of her own, but was being targeted by a few parents who did not like her presence in the girls’ facilities. The lawyers at PJI then changed their tune, suggesting that it is “inherently intimidating or harassing” just for a trans student to be in the bathroom, even — as was the case at Florence — if all the student does is actually use the bathroom. They demanded that the school still follow-through on an investigation of this “harassment,” but when it did, PJI’s own plaintiffs refused to speak with the detective. The Florence School Board voted unanimously last month to uphold the superintendent’s report denying that anything problematic had transpired and continue respecting Jane Doe’s identity.
PJI did try to highlight the girls’ concerns in its own video. Scary music aside, all that the girls could say was that it was “weird” and “uncomfortable” when Jane Doe was in the bathroom. They didn’t have any explanation as to why, and their decision not to speak with the detective suggests there was nothing more to say. The only result of PJI’s case at Florence is that Jane Doe, whose name was outed in the press, was stressed to the point that she was put on suicide watch. PJI’s Matthew McReynolds explained his concern for her: “You don’t lead to healthier outcomes by enabling potentially unhealthy behavior.”
Indeed, as TransAdvocate’s Autumn Sandeen points out, PJI’s lawyers explicitly believe that transgender people need to be fixed with therapy. On that same November 16 radio broadcast, Dacus explained that it’s a “myth” that being transgender is a permanent identity, and that “this boy” (Jane Doe) simply needs “Christ to come into his life and to help him get his life in order.” McReynolds later added that trans people “need to be helped to realize…what their true biological and anatomical sex is” because “this notion of a fluid gender identity is just not consistent with reality.”
On the November 30 episode of Dacus’ show, he actually interviewed “former transgender Walt Heyer,” who operates a website called “Sex Change Regret.” On his website, Heyer describes transgender people as having “underlying delusional psychological problems,” suggesting that they contemplate suicide at high rates and have other problems because of their identities — particularly because they regret undergoing sex reassignment surgery — not because of the rampant discrimination they experience throughout society. Heyer’s story is reminiscent of many ex-gay narratives, blaming childhood abuse for his transgender identity and conflating his problems with alcoholism with his embrace of his trans identity. Dacus ends the interview by claiming that Heyer was “totally healed” by “the Holy Spirit and God.” Incidentally, the other half of the show was dedicated to discussing ex-gay therapy.
Whether the AB 1266 referendum advances or not, opponents of the law are going to ramp up efforts to demonize and erase transgender children and their perfectly valid identities.