An American college girl raped in the toilets of her school in Virginia: this sordid crime would never have left the column of trivial facts if its author, a 14-year-old teenager, had not, according to the father of the victim, carried a skirt that day.
The assault, dating back to late May, first sparked a political mini-tornado in a local county. Then she unleashed a storm beyond the borders of this polarized state, where an election on Tuesday will serve as a national gauge of Joe Biden’s popularity.
The rape – proven, a juvenile judge who convicted the teenager this week – has indeed revived a question that has agitated the country for years: in which toilets can transgender people go?
– Entrenched camps –
In this ideological confrontation, on a subject that concerns only a tiny part of Americans, two camps are opposed: on the one hand, the Republican conservatives intend to force these people to use the toilets corresponding to their sex of birth.
On the other hand, progressive Democrats want to allow them to go to the locker rooms and toilets corresponding to the gender identity with which they identify.
The former use the sledgehammer argument of a so-called danger posed by “a man in the women’s toilet”.
The second, with supporting statistics, denounce an artificial psychosis targeting harmless and often fragile people.
This is to say the emotion aroused by the rape committed on May 28 at Stone Bridge High School in the town of Ashburn, when Scott Smith, the father of the college victim, reported that the perpetrator was wearing a skirt and identifying himself. as “gender fluid”, that is to say having an unfixed sexual identity.
At the material time, school authorities in Loudoun, a county whose Democratic majority has strengthened in recent years, were debating a law allowing transgender students to choose the pronoun or toilet that matches their gender identity. This law was only passed in August.
But Mr Smith, angered by the talks, tried to call on county education officials at a public meeting on June 22. He found himself pinned to the ground by the police. A video of the arrest has gone viral.
At that session, board chairman Scott Ziegler said he was not aware of any assault by a transgender student in the county. The concept of “the predatory (sexual) transgender student is simply a figment of the imagination,” he argued.
– “Pro-transgender radicalism” –
The reassuring words infuriated Virginia conservatives and things got tough for Ziegler when residents learned that the rapist, transferred to another high school, had committed another assault there on October 6.
The controversy shifted further when Glenn Youngkin, the Republican campaigning to rule Virginia, took to the subject, sensing a good opportunity to win back voters from the educated classes who had distanced themselves from Donald Trump.
The 54-year-old businessman targeted his attacks on “leftist” school authorities in Loudoun. It has thus met with a favorable echo among millions of conservatives in Virginia and other states, bristling with what they call “pro-transgender radicalism”.
Mr. Youngkin notably demanded the reinstatement of a teacher sacked for refusing to apply the policy of changing pronouns for transgender students.
The Democrats, and their candidate Terry McAuliffe, who fear a defeat in Virginia amounted to a national snub, have found themselves on the defensive.
Intending to keep the post of governor of this state of 8 million inhabitants, they called on Barack Obama, the most popular of the Democrats, to help.
In a meeting on Saturday, the former president denounced “a hypocritical cultural war, invented from scratch”.
Political science professor Larry Sabato finds him “very surprising that this local affair has become an important fuel for a campaign at the state level”.
“But that’s how Youngkin wanted it,” said this expert from the University of Virginia to AFP. “The question mobilizes especially the voters of the Grand Old Party and could boost their participation”.
Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.
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