For months Republicans have told us that ‘bathroom bans’ are for children’s safety. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has undermined that position with a joke about his state’s bathroom laws at a rally for Donald Trump. North Carolina requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their birth gender.
McCrory was speaking at a Trump rally and made remarks to the crowd about their safety. “Alright, let’s be safe now. We’ve got a big crowd,” McCrory said before adding “And if any of you need to use the restrooms…” The crowd of Trump supporters burst into laughter.
If the joke had been made by an opponent of North Carolina’s bathroom laws, it might be interpreted as an attack on the idea that transgender people are a threat to children. But coming from McCrory, it is an obvious nod to the blatantly discriminatory laws that stigmatize transgender people.
There is no evidence that transgender people are any more dangerous to children than any other group but conservative lawmakers have consistently made the argument that bathroom bills are primarily for child protection. McCrory’s remark and the conservative crowd’s reaction will strongly confirm the belief that new laws of this kind are simply a way to discriminate against transgender people.
McCrory is a strong supporter of Donald Trump. His state’s bathroom law is similar to the ‘religious freedom’ law introduced in Indiana by Trump’s running mate, Governor Mike Pence. Allying himself with Pence and McCrory will make it harder for Trump to win LGBT voters, despite pandering to them in his convention speech.