On Thursday night, Donald Trump will accept the Republican Party’s nomination for President. The millions who watch this happen on Fox News will also see this ad:
The woman in the ad, Alaina Kupec, is not an actress, but an actual transgender woman who lives in North Carolina, where HB2 prohibits her from using the women’s restroom in public buildings.
Kupec hopes the ad will help people conceptualize who trans women actually are. “The fictional ‘man in the dress’ is just that,” she told BuzzFeed. “It’s a political boogie man used to further a political agenda at the expense of a very fragile community.”
A coalition of LGBT organizations known as FairnessUSA made the ad buy, hoping to capitalize on the opportunity to educate millions of Americans about transgender people and what kind of discrimination they experience. In 2016, dozens of laws and policies targeting transgender people were introduced, and some, like HB2, actually passed. Meanwhile, nearly half of the states are suing the Obama administration for permission to discriminate against transgender students. As Janice Dodero wrote in the Washington Post this week, these ongoing attacks on bathrooms have increased harassment against transgender people like her.
- 59 percent have avoided bathrooms in the last year because they feared confrontations in public restrooms at work, at school, or in other places.
- 12 percent report that they have been harassed, attacked, or sexually assaulted in a bathroom in the last year.
- 31 percent have avoided drinking or eating so that they did not need to use the restroom in the last year.
- 24 percent report that someone told them they were using the wrong restroom or questioned their presence in the restroom in the last year.
- 9 percent report being denied access to the appropriate restroom in the last year.
- 8 percent report having a kidney or urinary tract infection, or another kidney-related medical issue, from avoiding restrooms in the last year.
Just this week, a Wisconsin high school student filed suit against his school district for restricting his bathroom access. Because the single-occupancy restroom he was forced to use was both logistically difficult to access and stigmatizing to be seen using, he often avoided going to the bathroom, which caused medical complications. Moreover, the school actually required him to wear a green wristband to identify him as transgender so that his bathroom access could be carefully monitored.
Ending this kind of treatment means actually introducing the public to transgender people. Previous campaign ads related to LGBT protections have largely avoided even mentioning transgender people, let alone including them in the ad.
And Fox News during the final night of the Republican Convention is the perfect place and time to make sure that the revolutionary ad is seen by the people who most need to see it. The 2016 Republican Platform specifically endorsed efforts to continue discriminating against transgender people, describing protections for that community as illegal, dangerous, and ignoring privacy issues.