Former MLB Player Lance Berkman Under Fire After Anti-Trans Ad

September 27th 2015

Former Major League Baseball player Lance Berkman is under fire after he appeared in an ad attacking a proposed law that would protect transgender people from bathroom discrimination.

At issue is Houston's Proposition 1, a proposed equal rights law that would bar discrimination based on race, age, pregnancy, religion, military status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Voters will decide on the proposition on Nov. 3.

Here's Berkman's ad, which was produced by an organization that opposes the law:

"Proposition 1 would allow troubled men, who claim to be women, to enter women's bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms," Berkman says in the ad. "It's better to prevent this danger by closing women's restrooms to men rather than waiting for a crime to happen."

In a video posted to YouTube, Berkman further explains that he believes the law would compromise the privacy of his wife and daughters.

"I mean, I have four daughters and the thought of them being in a public bathroom and having a man walk in there, which, I mean, who knows?" Berkman said. "Who knows what the intent of that person might be? They truly might think they're a woman, which is a little strange to me, but they could be a child predator, they could be somebody that's in there who likes to look at women and just claims to be a woman."

There has been a blistering response to Berkman on Twitter, particularly in the sports world:

Berkman attempted to clarify his stance on Saturday in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, saying he was not talking about transgender men when he referred to "troubled men."

“That terminology didn’t apply to transgender,” Berkman told the Post-Dispatch. “I reserve the right to have my opinion. But I don’t think there is anybody in America that wouldn’t think a child molester is troubled. That language refers to that scenario or a voyeur – somebody who goes into a women’s bathroom and just likes to look at people. "

Why LGBT advocates say that Berkman is wrong.

LGBT advocates argue that statements like Berkman's perpetuate myths about the trans community and gender-neutral bathrooms. For one, they say that the debate focuses too much on the power of bathroom signs.

"Does anyone really think men looking to assault women in a bathroom don't do so now because there is a 'women-only' sign on the door?" ATTN:'s Aron Macarow wrote in March. "It's not like the blue plastic sign serves as garlic to ward off sexual predators."

There have also been multiple studies finding that gender neutral bathrooms have not led to increased sexual assault. Meanwhile, a recent study from the Williams Institute at UCLA found that 70 percent of trans people have been harassed over use of public bathrooms.

Advocates also argue that the bathroom issue is used as a distraction to limit other trans civil rights protections around employment, education, and housing.

"These anti-trans bills are part of a broader wave of anti-LGBT legislation, including the 'freedom to discriminate' bills we’ve seen in Indiana and Arkansas among other places, but make no mistake, trans people are being targeted by these too," wrote Mara Keisling at the National Center for Transgender Equality.

For more on the battle over gender neutral bathrooms, check out this video:

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