The director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has stepped down reportedly due to a disagreement over the organization’s support for transgender individuals to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
Atlanta Progressive News was first to report that Maya Dillard Smith left because she believed the organization was supporting transgender rights at the expense of women’s rights. The ACLU and the ACLU of North Carolina (along with Lambda Legal) are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2, which requires transgender people to use the bathroom that matches the gender marker on their birth certificate.
In a statement she accused the ACLU of being “a special interest organization that promotes not all, but certain progressive rights. In that way, it is a special interest organization not unlike the conservative right, which creates a hierarchy of rights based on who is funding the organization’s lobbying activities.”
Dillard Smith argues that transgender rights have “intersectionality with other competing rights, particularly the implications for women’s rights.”
“I have shared my personal experience of having taken my elementary school age daughters into a women’s restroom when shortly after three transgender young adults over six feet with deep voices entered,” she writes.
“My children were visibly frightened, concerned about their safety and left asking lots of questions for which I, like many parents, was ill-prepared to answer,” she said.
“Despite additional learning I still have to do, I believe there are solutions that provide can provide accommodations for transgender people and balance the need to ensure women and girls are safe from those who might have malicious intent,” she said.
“I understood it to be the ACLU’s goal to delicately balance competing rights to ensure that any infringements are narrowly tailored, that they do not create a hierarchy of rights, and that we are mindful of unintended consequences,” she said.
“Thus, I found myself principally and philosophically unaligned with the organization,” she wrote.
Dillard Smith also created a website called Finding Middle Ground that features a video about having an open dialogue about the topic. In it, a young girl on a swing set parrots a controversial talking point on the issue.
“Boys in the girl’s bathroom? I don’t know about that. There’s some boys who feel like they’re girls on the inside, and there’s some boys who are just perverts,” the girl says, laughing.
Not surprisingly, transgender activists are not amused by Dillard Smith’s position.
“She did the right thing leaving the organization If she couldn’t defend our rights any better than that, she deserves to leave – she doesn’t need to be in that position,” Cheryl Courtney-Evans, of TILTT, told APN.
“The ACLU is supposed to stand up for everybody’s rights – if we’ve got a President and an Attorney General that recognizes our right to be, what to do we need with her then?” Courtney-Evans asked.
“She’s supposed to be heading an organization that’s supposed to stand up for everybody’s rights,” she said.
As for Dillard Smith’s stated concern regarding the safety of cisgender women and girls in public restrooms: “There is absolutely no documented incident of anyone of transgender experience attacking, molesting, or interacting in any way [that is inappropriate with]… any woman.”
“They refuse to respect our femaleness,” Courtney-Evans said.
“They’re still talking that crap about men dressing as women going into a lady’s room. The marriage issue has been resolved, now they need a new whipping post. So now, the transgender is the weakest link,” she said.
“I never went in a men’s room since I’ve been living my truth. What am I doing in a men’s room looking as luscious as I am, putting myself in danger?” she said.
“They don’t even know what they’re demanding,” she added, noting that some transgender men look more masculine than cisgender men. In other words, HB 2 would require cisgendered women to use the restroom along with transgender men, some of whom have full beards.
The ACLU of Georgia is staying quiet on Dillard Smith’s resignation, however they posted a job announcement to replace her last week.
Meanwhile in the wake of Dillard Smith’s resignation, some on social media are using the hashtag #TERF for trans-exclusionary radical feminism. Here’s a primer on the term for those unfamiliar with it.