Today on MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked right-wing activist Travis Weber if fellow guests Laverne Cox and Mara Keisling, both transgender women, should use men's restrooms--and Weber was speechless.
"Should Laverne use the men's room? ... Should Mara use the men's room?" Matthews asked Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council. Weber seemed taken aback, and he made no intelligible response--so Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, stepped in.
"Travis knows that if Laverne and I came into the men's room with him, he would be entirely freaked out," she said. "Laverne and I cannot use the men's room, should not use the men's room, and by the way, if we want to go back to how it's been for decades, we will leave this stuff alone and allow people to just be adults about it."
The exchange came in a discussion of the Trump administration's revocation of Obama-era guidelines that recommended schools recognize trans students' preferred names and pronouns, and allow them access to the restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-sex facilities aligned with their gender identity.
Keisling and Cox, the actress known for her roles in Orange Is the New Black and Doubt, pointed out that for many years transgender people have been using the facilities of their choice without incident. Weber contended that harm is done by allowing trans people such access. But when Matthews pressed him, he couldn't come up with a specific example of such harm.
"A 14-year-old girl in the locker room, someone comes in with male genitalia to their locker room, of course they're going to be harmed," Weber said--ignoring, among other things, the fact that schools generally make privacy arrangements.
Cox had a comeback for him. "I think it's important when we have conversations with and about transgender people that we do not reduce us to body parts," she said. "We are more than the sum of our parts, and it's so deeply objectifying and dehumanizing to talk about trans people and reduce us to body parts."
In another segment of the show, Cox noted that any controversy around restroom and locker room access is really about transgender people's very right to exist. She and Keisling also talked about the case coming before the Supreme Court involving trans student Gavin Grimm and the question of whether federal law against sex discrimination covers gender identity discrimination.