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Was a Trans Woman Caught Taking Photos of Underage Girls?

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A trans woman was caught taking pictures of underage girls in the bathroom of a Target department store.

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A piece of low-hanging “satire” from 2016 still lingers online, as the hysteria it was allegedly mocking became open right-wing policy.

The post was published on “KRBC News,” one of several blogs that dupes readers into reading and sharing its content thinking it is an otherwise unremarkable website for a local television affiliate.

According to the blog, a transgender woman was “caught snapping photos of underage girls” while using the restroom inside a Target store in Dallas. It is unclear what the joke of the piece is, other than to give KRBC an excuse to deal in transphobic language and mockery of actual LGBTQ activists by attaching itself to the actual story of the Target retail chain having a policy on restroom use that is gender inclusive.

To cover its tracks, the blog has a disclaimer:

This should go without saying, but everything on this website is purely for entertainment purposes. We are in no way affiliated, or trying to look like we are affiliated with any local news station.

The blog published its “entertainment” post years into the renewed push by right-wing operatives and lawmakers against LGBTQ+ and transgender communities in particular; one recent flashpoint was the attack to undermine an anti-discrimination statute in Houston, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO).

As Vox reported, conservatives ginned up fears of transgender “intruders” after HERO was passed in 2014:

They argued that HERO would let trans people use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Once that happens, they said, men will disguise themselves as trans women to sneak into women’s bathrooms and sexually assault women.

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As a result, a referendum rejecting HERO passed in a November 2015 election, galvanizing the use of fearmongering against transgender people as a political tactic, despite no evidence that they were “preying” on children — or on anyone — in public restrooms.

A 2018 study published by researchers at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law compared police reports between localities that had trans-inclusive statutes and localities that did not, saying:

This study finds that the passage of such laws is not related to the number or frequency of criminal incidents in these spaces. Additionally, the study finds that reports of privacy and safety violations in public restrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms are exceedingly rare. This study provides evidence that fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws are not empirically grounded.

“Research has shown that transgender people are frequently denied access, verbally harassed or physically assaulted while trying to use public restrooms,” one of the study’s authors, Jody L. Herman, told NBC News at the time. “This study should provide some assurance that these types of public accommodations laws provide necessary protections for transgender people and maintain safety and privacy for everyone.”

As the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have noted, transphobic legislation has continued to be pushed forward at the state level by right-wing lawmakers.

In one public manifestation of the effects of these types of laws, a transgender teen in Tennessee was arrested for truancy while streaming online and has said she is being forced to enter foster care.

“The police forced me to turn around in my chair and then acted very angry with me, with an officer even saying that he ‘didn’t see any tears’ and got mad at me for crying as I had tears running down my face,” the teen, Wynn, later told Vice. “They made me leave my room and had an officer search it. After that, they told me I shouldn’t have put the chair against my door and then took my door off of its hinges. They asked if I was suicidal, I said no, and then they left.”

Update 5/10/2022, 4:21 p.m. PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. –ag