Eye on the Opposition: 3 Anti-Transgender Campaign Ads Have Been Discredited in Recent Weeks

By Shane Stahl • March 29, 2018 • 12:56 pm

Over the past several weeks, campaign ads placed by anti-LGBTQ groups and coalitions have been widely discredited, and in two cases, called out for featuring establishments without their permission.

In Massachusetts and Anchorage, Alaska, nondiscrimination protections will be on the ballot in upcoming elections. Fair Anchorage and Freedom For All Massachusetts are the campaigns to protect basic dignity and protections for transgender people in these states, respectively – two campaigns that Freedom for All Americans is proud to support. However, in both cases, opposition groups have also emerged, attempting to encourage voters to repeal these protections by painting transgender people as threatening and a safety risk to women and girls, and spreading lies that have been debunked by public safety advocates, women’s safety advocates, and psychological organizations.

These scare tactics are nothing new — similar ads and messaging have been used across the country when the issue of transgender non-discrimination has come up for discussion. However, this deceptive messaging could not be farther from the truth. In the 18 states and over 200 cities where nondiscrimination protections are in effect, there has not been a single location with an uptick in public safety incidents. In fact, the opposite is true — when there are not protections in place, it is transgender people who stand at greater risk for harassment, intimidation, and violence. Opponents of LGBTQ equality, however, are working actively to make voters think otherwise. Luckily, in these most recent cases, their strategy has backfired, causing them to remove, edit, and defend their actions. Here’s a look:

National Supermarket Chain Pushes Anti-Transgender Activists in Massachusetts to Take Down Video:

In Massachusetts, an ad placed by the so-called “Keep MA Safe” organization was released, featuring a young girl using the bathroom alongside a transgender woman. The beginning of the ad featured both featured actors walking down an aisle in a Wegmans store, a major grocery store chain with locations across the East coast.

Upon its airing, Jo Natale, a spokesperson for the chain, told reporters at INTO that Keep MA Safe had never approached them asking for permission to use their business in the ad:

“It appears that the footage in the aisle and in the corridor leading to restrooms was shot in one of our stores, but it was done without our knowledge or permission. For this reason, we have sent a letter asking that they remove the video from their web site and anywhere else where it may be used.”

Last Thursday, the group released an edited version of the ad that did not feature the segment shot in Wegman’s, but damage had been done.

Anchorage Activists Use Story & Footage of Homeless Shelter Without Permission:

A similar situation occurred in Anchorage, where the group Alaska Family Action referred to an incident involving a transgender woman claiming discrimination after being denied service at the Downtown Hope Center, a shelter for the city’s homeless population.

The shelter never gave permission to be featured in the ad, and Charles Lauree, their spokesperson, released a statement:

“What Jim Minnery [president of Alaska Family Action] and Prop. 1 did, they did without talking to us.”

Kati Ward, Fair Anchorage campaign manager, said last week:

“Proponents of Prop 1 are using their new ad to take advantage of a vulnerable transgender woman seeking refuge at a homeless shelter during a difficult time. Backers of Proposition 1 claim to care about protecting women, but Anchorage’s leading safety advocates agree our nondiscrimination law has led to no rise in public safety concerns. No one was hurt in this incident, and a complaint was filed and is being processed, meaning the law is working exactly as it should. Exploiting a homeless shelter and a transgender woman without their permission in an attempt to deceive voters is cruel and not what we stand for as Alaskans. Anchorage voters value dignity and fairness for everyone, including transgender people, and won’t be fooled by these misleading tactics.”

Out-of-State Faces Pushing Anti-Transgender Discrimination in Anchorage:

The Yes on Prop 1 group ran into similar trouble a week earlier, with an ad featuring a woman named Kate, who spoke about an alleged encounter she had with a transgender woman in an Anchorage locker room. However, shortly after airing for the first time, INTO reported that the woman  was Kate Ives, an actress who resides in Minnesota and testified in favor of an anti-transgender bill there; ultimately, she has no connection to Anchorage whatsoever. In response, Jim Minnery said that he “couldn’t find anyone in Alaska to come forward.” To date, no Anchorage residents have gone on record via television ad as being in favor of Prop 1.

Conversely, Fair Anchorage has produced several ads for their No on Prop 1 campaign featuring various citizens of Anchorage; groups and individuals featured to this point include women in Anchorage, faith leaders, Native Alaskans, and the Lockards, a family in Anchorage with a transgender son named Col.

To learn more about Fair Anchorage, visit their site here; for Freedom For All Massachusetts, click here.

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