Maya Dillard Smith, the director of the ACLU in Georgia, resigned her position late last month, citing inconsistencies in the organization’s position on transgender bathroom rights. While the ACLU has largely ignored her resignation and conservative media have painted it as a principled stand, the truth is that it indicates that Smith is as inconsistent as the organization she left. It also indicates why the wheels always come off the progressive liberal cart. A house divided cannot stand.
Smith, who had headed up the Georgia chapter of the ACLU for the last year, told Atlanta’s NPR station that her growing philosophical disagreement with the ACLU over transgender bathroom rights became a bigger concern for her after the Obama administration sent a letter of guidance to all public schools in the nation requiring that they allow students to choose the restrooms, locker rooms, and showers corresponding to their “gender identity.”
The foundation for Smith’s disagreement with the ACLU is her feminism. She said she is concerned about the ACLU’s failure to “delicately balance” what she calls “competing rights.” The tipping point for Smith was when she took her “elementary school age daughters into a women’s restroom [and] three transgender young adults over six feet with deep voices entered,” she said in her statement, adding, “My children were visibly frightened, concerned about their safety and left asking lots of questions.” She said that she, “like many parents, was ill-prepared to answer” those questions. It appears the progressive liberal talking points are inadequate for consoling one’s own frightened children.
She attempted to share her concerns, but found her ACLU associates unsympathetic. She said the ACLU, rather than allowing open dialogue on the issue, is “a special interest organization that promotes not all, but certain progressive rights.” She added, “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.” As to those “competing rights,” she said the ACLU should work 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.”
But there is the rub. When tried and true values are jettisoned for the sake of novel interpretations of rights, there will always be “unintended consequences” as one new-found right competes with other new-found rights for a place in the hierarchy. There is simply no way to avoid this happening.
It’s a little like the story of the man who was hitchhiking and was picked up by a driver who proceeded to race through red lights, narrowly avoiding one accident after another. When his passenger complained, he explained, “I have seven brothers, and we’ve always done this. We’ve never been in an accident. This is real freedom. We refuse to have our driving defined by red lights.” At the next green light, the driver slammed on the brakes and was almost hit from behind. The passenger, finally at his wits' end, demanded to know why the driver did that. “Oh,” the driver answered, “you never know when one of my brothers is coming down a side street.”
One can attempt to create some “new” freedom but he will inevitably limit some other freedom in the process. As Father Paul McDonald told The New American in a previous article about the transgender “hate-speech” legislation moving through Canada’s Parliament:
It’s funny how this transgender stuff seems to be trumping “good old-fashioned feminism.” For instance, men are not allowed to have a “men’s only” gym. However, women are allowed to have a “women’s only” gym and I don’t begrudge them. But then the transgendered fellow — that is XY chromosome — he gets to go into the women’s changing room in the women’s gym? Why don’t the feminists trump the transgenders? Because surely some of these women would be saying, "No way, we fought for this, and no, you can’t come in here.”
Smith appears to be the answer to Fr. McDonald’s question. But this answer introduces a slew of other questions.
What Smith fails to see is that is not a matter of competing rights. It is a matter of competing values. The conflict is created by the manufacturing of “rights” that then bump into other manufactured “rights.”
As she seeks to create a “safe space” to discuss the transgender issue, Smith has launched a website, Finding Middle Ground, where she hopes to move the conversation forward without the conflict. A video on the site asks, “How can we ask these kinds of questions without being called a homophobe?” But — as honest as her questions may be — she still misses the mark. The video features a young girl on a swing set who asks, “Boys in the girl’s bathroom?” with a quizzical look. She then says, “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.” Since it is a perversion of the natural order for boys to “feel like they’re girls on the inside,” her statement is a little like saying, “There are people who eat human flesh, and then there are others who are just cannibals.”
No matter how honest a person is, asking the wrong questions will never help one arrive at the right answer.
Even with her apparent honesty and the delicate way she has addressed the issue, Smith may soon learn that there is no “safe place” for questioning the dogma of progressive liberalism. She has already been attacked by the LGBTQ crowd. “Cheryl” Courtney-Evans, executive director of Trans Individuals Living Their Truth (TILTT) — a transgender activist organization in Atlanta — wrote a scathing, vulgarity-laden blog post calling Smith a “lazy,” “ill-educated” “b***h” and “TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist). He (Courtney-Evans is a biological male attempting to live “his truth” that he is a woman) went on to write that, by “advocating for ‘alternative facilities’ for trans*folks,” Smith is “creating even more numerous opportunities for trans*aggressions and bashing because you're marking those individuals who use them every bit as effectively as the Star Of David marked Jewish people in Nazi Germany.”
Setting aside the obviously incendiary nature of comparing anything experienced by transgenders to the systematic extermination of Jews in Nazi concentration camps, this is a shining example of those “competing rights.” Courtney-Evans seems to believe that “his truth” trumps all others. In reality, “his truth” is a well documented mental disorder known as Gender Identity Disorder.
Courtney-Evans told Atlanta’s NPR station that Smith “did the right thing leaving the organization,” adding, “If she couldn’t defend our rights any better than that, she deserves to leave — she doesn’t need to be in that position.” Ignoring a plethora of news reports to the contrary, he went on to say that the idea of men using the transgender issue to enter women’s restrooms and changing rooms is baseless. “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,” he said. In a sharp turn that betrays the lack of logic in his argument, he also attempted to turn that same argument to the favor of transgenders. “I never went in a men’s room since I’ve been living my truth," he said, adding, “What am I doing in a men’s room looking as luscious as I am, putting myself in danger?”
As Smith continues to ask questions in an effort to understand this issue, she will either come face-to-face with the truth that — for the LGBTQ crowd — this issue is not about facts and reality, or she will continue to labor under the burden of trying to make two plus two come out to five while being attacked by her fellow progressive liberals because some of them want it to be six. As progressive liberals continue to divide not only America and the world, but also their own interests, they will fight amongst themselves. Wisdom itself once said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus was of course referring to truths that are absolute and eternal and cannot contradict each other; He obviously did not mean that each individual is free to create his own "truth" — the results of which are division and confusion — and falsehoods masquerading as truth. That latter notion and its consequences come from someone else.
Photo of Maya Dillard Smith: AP Images