Fox News’ Shannon Bream -- part of the network’s so-called “news” side -- gave a platform to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) to misinform about the Equality Act, a bill extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans. Bream allowed Cotton to lie that the bill would allow Harvey Weinstein -- who was convicted of rape and sexual assault -- to “transition to being a woman tomorrow” and be put “in a women’s prison” without correcting him or providing accurate context.
The Equality Act, considered in a March 17 Senate hearing, would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity “in both the public and private sectors, offering civil rights protections in businesses, hospitals and welfare services,” among other areas. In the absence of the Equality Act, LGBTQ Americans currently have a patchwork of protections across the country, with 27 states lacking explicit protections in their nondiscrimination measures.
During the March 17 segment, Cotton pushed a popular right-wing trope that trans women threaten other women’s safety, claiming, “If you run a battered women's shelter, and a man shows up and said he wants to be admitted in there — to a place where women are hiding from abusive, violent boyfriends and husbands — you might be sued. You might lose your government contracts.” Bream did not respond to these falsehoods.
The right has spent years peddling the debunked myth that sexual predators will exploit nondiscrimination laws to pretend to be transgender in order to sneak into women's restrooms and harm them. Bream and her guest failed to mention that women’s rights groups and advocates agree that the Equality Act would safeguard a variety of nondiscrimination protections for women and does not pose a threat to them. As Time has noted, “Sexual assault remains a crime no matter why someone claims they entered a women’s space.”
Furthermore, Bream failed to comment on Cotton’s absurd claim that Weinstein “could transition to being a woman tomorrow, and the Equality Act would require the government to put him in a women's prison.”