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.

Per APN:

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.

7 Responses

  1. HawkAtreides

    Meanwhile, we have cisgender women who are being assaulted for daring to look even the slightest bit “mannish” – be it dress, hairstyle, or factors out of their control like body shape – by anti-trans crusaders thinking they’re “protecting” women against “perverts”.

    The history of this country has long been entangled with a patriarchal intent of “protecting” certain classes of women (white, young, cisgender) from the dreaded depraved and degenerate “Other”, largely without ever acknowledging the fact that the majority of sexual assault throughout history is perpetrated by those closest to the victim – friend, family, teacher, coach, or spouse. In every case where the “Other” is blamed, not only do we oppress that group for more years than should be counted, but we reinforce a negative view of women in general: You are weak and stupid, and you must be protected by those who know what is best for you.

    No more, and good riddance to people like Maya Dillard Smith who claim to care about civil rights until they might have to give up the slightest bit of their own comfort.

    • Pondering

      Maya Dillard Smith: 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.”

      Hmmm. The conclusion of the head of the state chapter is triggered by a personal experience. Where will she go to promote rights that she wants to protect?
      My conclusion here is that sizable money for Democratic Party causes has increasingly come from Gay rights groups and not African-American and Women’s Groups. These funds have been used for decades to support causes for African-Americans and Women’s groups and not Gay causes until recently. The success of Gay Marriage has Gay rights groups now pushing for all the issues that can possibly be accepted and even some that lack support and no longer want their money to support African-American and Women’s issues unless they have an LGBTQ flavoring. It’s our time.
      Maya Dillard Smith just named something very undemocratic . Competing rights? Then, we really should follow the money.
      Next, should we expect the age of consent to be lowered?

  2. Man-of-Reason

    This whole discussion is very confusing, even for, or maybe especially for those of us who think of ourselves as socially liberal. It’s really all about our levels of discomfort with various actions of the genders and how we protect ourselves and others from fear and anxiety. We all need to respect the way others feel about these issues and support policies that promote secure individuality. Female transgender lesbians with penises showering in the high school locker room with the girls gym class shatters that security for the girls (and their parents) as did the deep voices in the women’s restroom for Dillard Smith and her young daughters. That’s reality and must be faced.

  3. Cheryl Courtney-Evans

    Lest we forget…there are already laws on the books addressing misconduct in public ‘accomodations’ [restrooms]. The transgender community recognizes our being targeted through these legislations via the language (i.e., “birth certificate” specificity)….these laws are no more necessary than the “freedom of religion” bills, calculated to disenfranchise the LGBTQ community.

    Maya Dillard Smith allowed ONE INCIDENT [IF it actually happened) make her step down, rather than “upping her game” and informing herself in a manner that would give her something to “tell her children”, not to mention carrying on with the conduction of her ACLU business. To me that spells transphobia, REGARDLESS of her “middle of the road” initiative (that might possibly put the trans community at risk from folks who see them enter a “trans” facility set aside for them) [I must admit that this might not be her ‘solution’, but I suspect this “separate but equal approach”.] I think it’s un conscionable for them to use children, putting words in their mouths (I highly doubt the young girl wrote her own script) to engender fear in the public; children take their lead from their parents, guardians or other “nurturers” bigotry is a learned experience, so they are missing a teaching moment. Of course, they should be warned against ANY predator, but don’t be brushing an entire community with the same “predator brush”. And really, abdicdation from her post due to ONE incident? Yes, I think she did the right thing….


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