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Georgia ACLU director quits over group’s support for trans rights

Georgia ACLU director quits over group’s support for trans rights
The interim director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has announced she’s leaving the organization because she cannot stomach its stance in support of transgender civil rights, claiming they come at the expense of women’s rights.

The ACLU of North Carolina is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, Carcano v. McCrory, challenging House Bill 2, the controversial law that restricts public bathroom usage to those facilities matching the gender on a person’s birth certificate as well as limiting LGBT non-discrimination ordinances.

But as the ACLU makes transgender issues a national priority, Maya Dillard Smith says she found herself at odds with the organization and efforts by the Obama Administration to defend the rights of trans students in schools across the country.

Dillard Smith says she is siding with the state of Georgia and ten other states in objecting to guidance by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice that transgender students should use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Those states and three governors are suing the federal government over that directive.

In a statement, Dillard Smith declared “I found myself principally and philosophically unaligned with the organization,” and accused the ACLU of being as bad as right wing conservative groups:

“…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.”

She also shared a story about what she described as a disturbing encounter with trans women in a ladies room, that scared her school-age children.

“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. 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.”

Dillard Smith repeated the myth that the rights of trans people to use the bathrooms matching their gender identity might create a criminal opportunity for predators, which has not once proven true.

“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.”

One transgender advocate in Georgia applauded Dillard Smith’s decision to leave, according to Atlanta Progressive News, saying she clearly was more of a hindrance than a help. “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 Tilting The World Toward Change, 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?” said Courtney-Evans.

Dillard Smith has also launched a new website, Finding Middle Ground, that features a YouTube video in which a young girl has this to say:

“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.”

Watch Finding Middle Ground’s video below.

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