On Saturday, the Minnesota Child Protection League distributed an anti-transgender flier at the Minnesota Republican State Central Committee Meeting, a gathering of GOP activists voting on the party’s business and leadership.
That flier purported to depict a transgender person with a quote saying, “I want to use your daughter’s bathroom,” and urged Republican Party officials to back the group’s bill, HF 1546. That bill would repeal transgender inclusive policies in place around that state. In December, the Minnesota State High School League adopted an appeals process intended to make high school athletics more inclusive for transgender students. Minneapolis Public Schools and St. Paul Public Schools have adopted transgender inclusive policies over the last year. HF1546 would repeal those policies and block all other public school districts from adopting transgender inclusive policies.
— Rob D. (@MNSquatch) April 11, 2015
MNCPL’s flier is part of tactics being used around the country by groups opposed to equal access for transgender people, and plays into the erroneous — and for transgender people — dangerous assertion that using facilities that match a transgender person’s gender will put cisgender (non-transgender) people at a privacy and safety risk.
That was the basic premise behind the flier, and its a premise that falls apart when the image used for the flier is scrutinized. The image, a shirtless man with beauty makeup and long hair, purports to be a transgender person, and MNCPL appeared to defend the image as a transgender person on Twitter.
But according to the photographer, the image is a cisgender man. Polina Zadirako of St. Petersburg, Russia, took the image and it’s for sale on Shutterstock for anyone to use. Zadirako runs Queer Studio T, which does artistic photos depicting androgynous, transgender, and gender non-conforming people. The studio also does style, fashion, and makeup for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
The Column reached out to Zadirako to learn more about the photo. “This model is my friend. He is gay. He is not transgender.” In fact, the image is clearly labeled as “androgynous man” on Shutterstock where MNCPL likely purchased the image.
“It’s sad that the photo if being used by an anti-transgender group,” Zadirako said. “This photo was taken by me, and anyone can buy it, but I think that I can’t do anything” about MNCPL’s use of it.
Since the image is that of a cisgender man, the flier’s premise is questionable. None of the transgender-inclusive school policies passed in Minnesota allow cisgender men to use facilities designated for women.
A previous image used by MNCPL in an anti-transgender ad missed the mark as well. In December, when the group took out ads in opposition to the Minnesota State High School League’s transgender-inclusive policy, the group used an image of a woman in a softball uniform with a quote that asked, “your 14-year old daughter just lost her position on an all-girl team to a male….and now she may have to shower with him.”
Twitter users also found that image gracing the cover of a lesbian romance novel.