We wouldn't expect Bill O'Reilly to applaud American Eagle Outfitters's new trans-friendly policies — but did he have to compare transpeople to Ewoks?
American Eagle had previously required employees to wear gender specific clothing, but, responding to pressure from workers' rights group Make the Road and the New York State Attorney General's office, it has reversed this stance. Employees in New York can now dress as they choose, and the company will institute training on transgender issues, such as appropriate pronouns to use. Vanessa of Feministing points out that while this is "an important win," we still need to pass the transgender-inclusive Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which is predictably opposed by the Family Research Council. They say, "ENDA, what might be more appropriately called 'The Cross-Dresser Protection Act,' takes the bedroom into the workplace and unfairly burdens employers to know about their employee's sexual lives." Bullshit, but well-behaved bullshit. O'Reilly, not so much.
According to Queers United, O'Reilly complained that American Eagle's new policy would mean "men can now dress like Dolly Parton and be protected." This plays into a lot of stereotypes about what transwomen look like, and ignores the fact that many people who would choose to dress in women's clothing at American Eagle don't identify as "men." And of course, dressing like Dolly Parton would be preferable to wearing some of the clothing once sold by AE.
But O'Reilly didn't stop with Dolly — he went on to ask whether "people should be allowed to dress like Ewoks." Because apparently having a gender identity different from your birth gender is the same as wanting to dress as a Star Wars character, just like allowing gay marriage means you also have to let a man marry a dog or a child or a lightsaber. The subtext here, as usual, is that LGBT people are weird and crazy, and if we let them do what they want, pretty soon there will be no rules at all. O'Reilly is confusing equal rights with anarchy, and privileging his version of an ordered universe — in which people dress the way that makes him comfortable — over allowing others to express their identities. O'Reilly seems to think the latter is some kind of special privilege, when actually he's the one who's privileged with a gender identity that already conforms to mainstream social expectations. In reality, all the trans employees of American Eagle wanted — and all they've gotten — is the right to do what O'Reilly already does, which is dress in accordance with the gender they feel they are. If this makes them Ewoks, then frankly, we're all Ewoks.
O'Reilly Compares Transgender People To Ewok's [Queers United]
American Eagle Outfitters Anti-Trans Policy Changed [Feministing]
American Eagle's Trans Employees Now Free To Wear Whatever They Want to Work [Queerty]