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OUR VIEW: Mango’s anti-trans commercial rooted in fear mongering and false understanding

Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Candidate Paul Mango’s recent transphobic television ad looks to warn us that anti-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania “will give anyone the right to decide which gender restroom they can use.”  But the idea that transgender men and women are somehow frivolous in deciding which public restroom they’ll use is based on a complete misunderstanding, and on a denial of the validity of transgender identities. The tone and wording of Mr. Mango’s ad implies that being transgender is “a choice,” and that the lived experiences of transgender people aren’t legitimate, or for that matter even real.

>> RELATED NEWS: Equality PA Endorses Tom Wolf for Governor

It’s important for people to understand that this is not a traditional “Attack Ad.” The people it attacks are not an opposition candidate or even supporters of an opposing candidate. This Ad attacks and makes less safe an already marginalized population who are not a part of the race for office at all.

>> TAKE ACTION: Click Here to #StandWithTransPA

We must reject this uninformed way of thinking, because to deny the existence of transgender identities would be to deny trans persons the same right to equal protection under the law that all Americans are entitled to.

Mango’s political ad makes members of the transgender and gender non-confirming community seem amoral and threatening. But the truth is that transgender people and their identities are real indeed; we exist, and we always have, and today we seek only the same rights to not be discriminated against that the rest of society enjoys – whether it be in our employment, our housing, or in our public accommodations – so that we may simply go about our daily routine as productive members of society.

Let’s be candid: the so called “bathroom bill” issue is in truth not properly about transgender people at all, because we are by nature gentle and courteous folk who are well aware of privacy expectations – for others as well as for ourselves. These attacks are purely a cynical fear-mongering exercise against a non-existent threat, as there are no cases of any transgender people accosting anyone in a public restroom in the U.S.

Pennsylvanians must not embrace the divisive and dishonest demonizing of transgender persons by politicians like Paul Mango in our political dialogue about the future of our magnificent Commonwealth.

>> TAKE ACTION: Click Here to #StandWithTransPA

Paul Mango seems to seek only to exploit people’s fear of differences that are in point of fact benign, and to promote judgement and scapegoating where none need exist. Pennsylvania needs to move forward as the modern society it deserves to be – respectful of its many traditions, proud of its rich history, flexible and progressive in its freedoms, open and innovative in its culture. Let’s find ways to come together, in building bridges rather than burning them.

By Kira Kinsman

Kira Kinsman is an award winning architect and founder of the architectural firm KKArchitect, PC in Philadelphia.  She is a transgender woman who proudly serves as treasurer of the Equality Pennsylvania Board of Directors and as a member of the organization’s executive committee.

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