A new commercial ad depicting the challenges faced by transgender people in accessing public restrooms—and highlighting the lack of state and federal nondiscrimination protections for transgender people—will have its national television debut on FOX News Channel next Thursday, July 21, during the final night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The ad will air nationwide again on MSNBC during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia one week later.
The ad features a transgender woman from North Carolina, where HB2 passed earlier this year. HB2 makes it illegal for transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings that match the gender they live every day, making them susceptible to even higher levels of harassment and violence.
“Transgender people desperately need laws that protect us from being unfairly fired from our jobs, kicked out of our homes, and denied access to public bathrooms, just because of who we are,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Our newly released survey data shows that 59 percent of transgender people avoided bathrooms in the last year out of fear of harassment. A shocking one in ten (12%) transgender people reported being harassed, attacked, or sexually assaulted in a bathroom, and one third avoided drinking or eating so that they did not need to use the restroom.”
The growing national conversation about transgender people comes at a watershed moment. More than 200 bills targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people were introduced in dozens of states during the 2016 legislative session. Many of these bills were intended specifically to harm transgender people.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has offered varying opinions on the issue of transgender rights, but stated that HB2 has caused “a lot of problems” and that transgender people should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate,” adding that this policy has worked well for years. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ran glaringly anti-transgender campaign ads, only to see his presidential campaign plummet shortly afterwards.
“As Americans get to know transgender people as their neighbors, coworkers and friends, they come to understand that all of us, including transgender people, should have a fair opportunity, free from the fear of discrimination, to provide for ourselves and our families. This groundbreaking ad will help build much-needed empathy at a time when transgender people face very serious violence and discrimination,” said Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director of Equality Federation.
Watch the ad below.