In early March, a Seattle woman named Kelly Herron was allegedly attacked in a restroom by a registered sex offender named Gary Steiner. Steiner was hiding in a stall and Herron says she fought him off, then locked him inside until the police arrived. Her story went viral—and was also picked up by an anti-trans group called Just Want Privacy.
According to local NBC News affiliate K5, Just Want Privacy used Herron’s photo and story in a post on their Facebook page, writing, “We cannot be naïve and normalized the presence of males in females’ vulnerable spaces #YesOn1552.” I-1552 is a ballot initiative that would roll back a Washington law that protects the rights of transgender people to use the bathrooms of their choosing.
In Herron’s original post about her battle with Steiner, she wrote that she screamed, “Not today, M**F**er!” as she defended herself. The Stranger reports that Herron, in a statement, is now directing those words at Just Want Privacy:
I’m more upset now than I have been all week after seeing that a political group is using my face, my name and my story to fundraise for I-1552, a ballot initiative that deliberately targets and harms transgender people - including friends whom I respect.
To the people behind I-1552, I say “not today, mutherf*ckers.” I refuse to allow anyone to use me and my horrific sexual assault to cause harm and discrimination to others.
All of us, including transgender people, are concerned about safety in restrooms or any place where we’re isolated and alone. But the fact is I-1552 would not have done one thing to prevent the attack on me. It’s already illegal to enter a restroom or locker room to harm someone, period.
Herron demanded that the group return any money it raised for their initiative using Herron’s story and image. Just My Privacy has deleted the post and offered an apology on Facebook:
Last week a Seattle woman was attacked in a bathroom at Golden Gardens by a level III sex offender.
Because our campaign exists to help create safe spaces, we referenced her story—as we have many others before her—to highlight the need for common sense public policy to minimize danger to women and children from those who seek to harm others.
We have recently learned through several media outlets that the woman objected to our reference to her story in our communications.
Since many of the volunteers that comprise this campaign are themselves survivors of sexual assault, the last thing we want to do is make anyone feel exploited.
If our actions have inadvertently failed in this effort, we are sincerely sorry.
Our campaign would welcome the opportunity to apologize to her in person if she would like to reach out to us or provide a way for us to reach her.
Herron’s story is terrifying, but completely irrelevant to the many discriminatory bathroom bills being used to attack transgender people across the U.S. Steiner is a cis man, and stopping a transgender woman from using the bathroom obviously wouldn’t have done a thing to prevent his alleged attack.
I-1552, in particular, would be completely ineffective as it largely targets schools and would open the way for parents to sue if a transgender child is allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. It also suggests fining schools $5,000 for every “incident” of bathroom use. Though Just My Privacy alleges that they’re interested in the safety of women and children, Herron writes that the wording of the bill does exactly the opposite, because “under this law men could demand to see a woman’s ID with her name and home address, or otherwise force her to prove her gender before allowing her to enter a public restroom.” Sounds like something a predator would do.