May 17, 2016 9:33 a.m.

For a lot of readers, the freakout over transgender bathroom usage has settled into a low level background noise. But the deep and breadth of the freakout has reached whole new levels since the U.S. Department of Education sent out a letter giving guidance to local schools on how to accommodate trans students.

Now instead of a diffuse set of targets — the Charlotte City Council, the Fort Worth school superintendent, etc — the anti-LGBT forces have a familiar and comfortable villain: OBAMA!

Ground zero for the freakout has been Texas, where the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general are trying to outdo each other over who can have the most over-the-top reaction. For my money, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) has the inside track since he declared trans bathroom use “the biggest issue facing families and schools in America since prayer was taken out of public schools.”

Let’s be honest though. Folks like Patrick can barely contain their glee over this turn of events. Trans bathroom policy — or as conservatives have framed it, sexually predatory men dressed as women and free to roam in bathrooms with little girls — hits all the psycho-sexual-political buttons for their constituents in a presidential election year. Caitlin MacNeal catches you up on the all the breathlessness.

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