A transgender rights group has landed a commercial spot that will ensure its message is preaching to anything but the choir.
Fox News viewers tuning into presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump's (also presumptive) acceptance speech at the party convention next week will be treated to the first-person testimony of a transgender woman talking about how proposed bathroom laws could impact her life.
The commercial, which will run next Friday during the last leg of the convention, comes amid fierce debate over so-called bathroom bills in North Carolina and several other states that would bar transgender people from using the public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Most of the support for the efforts comes from within the Republican Party.
While there is certainly a political statement to be made by advertising during that party's biggest event, the coalition behind the ad, Fairness USA, says it's also there for the same reason as the erectile dysfunction companies and fast food chains: A big audience of potential converts.
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"It's basically the Willy Sutton rule — Willy Sutton was the bank robber who was asked, 'Why do you rob banks?' And he said, 'Because that's where the money is,'" says Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Eqaulity (NCTE), which is part of the coalition. "In this case, where the people are going to be watching TV is Fox News the night of the acceptance speech."
"It's really just a great place to have a conversation with America — particularly the part of America that we've had the most challenging time reaching," she added.
The minute-long ad features Alaina Kupec, a transgender woman from North Carolina, attempting to use a restaurant bathroom in a staged scene. But she's stopped short by an employee, who motions her towards the men's room, shaking his head.
In a voiceover, she talks about how situations like this will become the norm under proposed bathroom laws and how they often lead to transgender harassment.
The ad will run only once more after its Fox News debut — on MSNBC during the Democratic Convention the following week.
The NCTE also released a study in conjunction with the ad claiming that one in ten of nearly 28,000 transgender people surveyed had been harassed, attacked or sexually assaulted in a public bathroom. Six in ten say they avoid bathrooms for that reason.
Keisling hopes viewers will come away from the ad better emphasizing with trans people as typical Americans facing everyday struggles.
"[The bathroom bill movement] was entirely ginned by anti-LGBT extremist groups that were looking for something to be relevant about and raise money over and politicians who wanted to make some political hay," Keisling says. "They need to know that if they do that, we're going to set their hay on fire."
"I hope that didn't sound threatening," she added.
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