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Ben Carson Calls Transgender Americans “Absurd” in Advance of Historic TV Ad Airing

Washington, D.C., July 19, 2016 — Ben Carson attacked transgender Americans at the Republican National Convention in Ohio today, referring to them as an “absurdity” and likening being transgender to changing one’s ethnicity. Carson’s comments come just hours ahead of his prime time speaking slot during tonight’s RNC program, and just two days before a historic national television ad featuring a transgender woman is set to air on FOX News. The ad – which has garnered more than five million views in the last week – is available online at

The offensive comments aren’t surprising from Carson, who has a long history of speaking against LGBT people and supporting discriminatory measures. In the past, Carson has likened being gay to bestiality and pedophilia, and has said being gay is a choice and an “abomination.”

Carson's dangerous comments come one day after Republicans adopted a national platform that includes archaic language that singles out the transgender community for discrimination. Republicans are divided on the issue of LGBT rights. Donald Trump has offered varying opinions on the issue of transgender rights, but stated that HB2 has caused “a lot of problems” and that transgender people should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate,” adding that this policy has worked well for years.

The Fairness USA ad aims to cut through much of the heated rhetoric and introduce Americans to real transgender people and the very real challenges discriminatory laws like HB 2 present. The ad features a transgender woman from North Carolina, where HB 2 passed earlier this year. HB 2 makes it illegal for transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings that match the gender they live every day, making them susceptible to even higher levels of harassment and violence.

The ad was created by the Movement Advancement Project and funded by Fairness USA, a partnership led by Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, the Movement Advancement Project, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the Equality Ohio Education Fund, with support from the Equality Federation Institute, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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