The director of the Georgia American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday that she resigned from her position because her skepticism about transgender bathroom access was rejected by the ACLU.
Maya Dillard Smith said she was seeking common ground between respecting transgender rights while protecting women and children. She said the ACLU was hostile to her efforts.
“If our goal is to advance the rights of equality of transgender folk, how do we do that, and advance the rights of all people?” Smith said. “If we have all-gender restrooms which will accommodate trans folks, what do we do about women who are the survivors of rape for whom it would be traumatic to share a public restroom where you take down your underwear, and there’d be men in the bathroom.”
Among other recent efforts, the ACLU of North Carolina has legally challenged HB2 in North Carolina, the law that keeps transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. In a statement to Atlanta Progressive News, Smith called the ACLU a “special interest organization that promotes not all, but certain progressive rights.”
Smith said that she has talked about an experience she had with her daughters in a public restroom.
“I have shared my personal experience of having taken my elementary school age daughters into a women’s restroom when shortly after three transgender young adults over six feet with deep voices entered,” she said in the statement. “My children were visibly frightened, concerned about their safety and left asking lots of questions for which I, like many parents, was ill-prepared to answer.”
“Despite additional learning I still have to do, I believe there are solutions that provide can provide accommodations for transgender people and balance the need to ensure women and girls are safe from those who might have malicious intent,” she added.
But she said that when she shared her views, her colleagues at the ACLU responded with hostility.
“I certainly felt like there is not an opportunity to have robust discourse on the competing civil rights that are implicated,” Smith told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly Thursday night.
Smith told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that there are “real concerns about the safety of women and girls in regards to this bathroom debate.”
“It seems to me that instead of stifling the dialogue, we want to encourage a robust debate to come up with an effective solution,” she said.
In a statement to Atlanta television station WXIA, she said that sharing a bathroom with “trans folks” could be traumatic for victims of sexual assault.