The Republican National Convention is coming up, and it's already causing social patter: While some notable names have opted not to attend—including the two former Presidents Bush and ex-hopefuls like McCain and Romney—others are planning on crashing the party.
On the night Donald Trump is expected to accept the Republican nomination, a coalition of equal rights groups will run a commercial critiquing laws that limit which public restrooms transgender people can use. It will air on Fox News—surprise!—during Trump's speech.
The ad features a transgender woman named Alaina Kupec (aptly from North Carolina, which in March became the first state to implement a bathroom law). She's depicted in what's likely a typical scene for many transgender folks living in states that think a lot about your genitals. It opens with her heading to a restaurant, chatting with friends, as a voiceover explains her reasons for transitioning.
"It can be hard to understand what it means to be transgender, especially if you've never met a transgender person," the narration says, as she gets up to use the restroom under the watchful gaze of a shifty employee with a pen over his ear.
Watch what happens next.
Kupec visibly mouths "I can't go in there" to the man, who insists she use the men's room—which, when briefly opened, reveals two leering ne'er-do-wells clearly bent on acts of psychological terror. Then two women appear to chide the employee and take her safely to the women's room.
"It's already illegal to enter a restroom to harm someone, and anyone who does that can and should be arrested. Updating the law to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination won't change that, but it would help to ensure people like me aren't mistreated when we need to do something as basic as using the restroom," Kupec says.
The ad—produced by the Movement Advancement Project, the Freedom for All Americans Education Fund and the Equality Ohio Education Fund—has the studied, scripted feeling of a public service message for schools, or a workplace sexual harrassment video. But it does get the point across: Executive director Ineke Mushovic of the Movement Advancement Project observes that the scenario Kupec faces is legal in 32 states.
"We are concerned that this is happening without most people really understanding who transgender people are," Mushovic says."Most people have never met someone who's transgender, so their heads are filled with all sorts of stereotypes."
When North Carolina passed its controversial law in March, the Obama Administration sued, warning other states that they would lose federal funding for passing similar laws. The White House historically also began providing gender-neutral restrooms in areas like the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
The ad industry has also taken a vocal position on the ruling: McKinney printed North Carolina's law on toilet paper, and Absolut Vodka released an ad where a cisgender man runs into an old friend who's transitioned ... and gets to know her all over again.
For his part, Trump's been as vague about the North Carolina law as about anything else, though he ultimately claims to support it. He has, however, made an exception for Caitlyn Jenner, whom he says can use whatever restroom she likes at his properties. (Jenner openly supports the candidate.)