OPED: Ted Cruz's cowardly anti-transgender stance
Ted Cruz is a coward.
He's other things — a GOP presidential candidate, a senator from Texas — but most of all, and most unquestionably, he's a coward.
A coward mocks what he doesn't understand. A coward seeks political gain by maligning others. A coward talks about North Carolina's controversial bathroom law, which requires transgender people to use the restroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate, by saying this at a Sunday campaign event: "If Donald Trump dresses up as Hillary Clinton, he still can't go to the girl's bathroom."
Hah! The crowd laughed and thought it was a stitch because, naturally, all transgender women look like Trump in a pantsuit, right?
Not just wrong, but offensive. And not just offensive to transgender people, offensive to any American who thinks denigrating transgender people is repellent.
Remarkably, Cruz's anti-trans addition to his stump speech was only the second most offensive thing his campaign did in the past week. The No. 1 spot belonged to an ad released shortly after Cruz opponent Donald Trump said he disagrees with the North Carolina law.
In the ad, the following text rolls over black-and-white shots of women's restrooms and a little girl holding her mother's hand: "Should a grown man pretending to be a woman be allowed to use the women's restroom? The same restroom used by your daughter? Your wife? Donald Trump thinks so. It's not appropriate. It's not safe. It's PC nonsense that's destroying America. Donald Trump won't take on the PC police. He's one of them."
The implication here is that these quiet, black-and-white bathrooms are about to be overrun by marauding, faux-transgender people hell-bent on attacking your wife and daughter and ruining America.
That, of course, is nonsense. Insulting, fearmongering nonsense devoid of any inkling of a clue as to what it actually means to be transgender.
A transgender woman is not "a grown man pretending to be a woman." If you say that, as Cruz did, you clearly have no interest in understanding gender identity and would rather take the dullard's approach of writing off those different from you with no concern for their humanity.
That doesn't seem too Christian, but hey, I'm just a Catholic. What do I know?
The idea that a bill like the one in North Carolina will open the door for male predators to don women's clothing and start trolling restrooms is absurd on its face, and not backed by any historical evidence of such behavior. PolitiFact North Carolina did an exhaustive review of this topic and reported: "We haven't found any instances of criminals convicted of using transgender protections as cover in the United States. Neither have any left-wing groups or right-wing groups."
It's a solution in search of a problem.
Trump said he doesn't see a need for laws like the one in North Carolina: "People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble."
Compared to most things Trump says, that's remarkably mundane. But to Cruz it's "PC nonsense that's destroying America."
First off, Trump is to political correctness what Cruz is to likability. And does anyone actually think America's path to destruction runs through a public restroom? To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a flush."
Cruz is fighting to keep Trump from locking up the GOP nomination for president, and his sudden burst of transphobic angling is a sad attempt to stir up fear.
He seems to assume that those uncomfortable with transgender people vastly outnumber those uncomfortable with people who behave like insensitive boobs. I suspect he's quite wrong.
And right or wrong, it's a despicable calculus.
Transgender people are small in number, but that doesn't make their feelings and need for understanding and acceptance any less than mine or yours.
Cruz wants to win an election, and if he has to demonize people who are already too often ostracized, he'll cue up the attack ad and roll. Then he'll tell you what a nice, god-fearing Christian he is and ask you to vote for him so he can take on the PC police and keep those darn men pretending to be women away from your loved ones.
This is a con, one that harms people as a means to an end. To borrow a couple lines from the ad, "It's not appropriate. It's not safe."
Just like Ted Cruz.
— Rex Huppke is a Chicago Tribune columnist. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.