What the Anti-Trans Bathroom Debate is Really About

After the White House rolled back protections for trans public school students (click here for link to news story) the “should trans people be able to safely use public bathrooms” debate has raised its ugly head yet again. And frankly, this debate is absurd. I cannot believe we are still debating whether or not trans folx are ‘permitted’ to take a piss in a public toilet. Like, are you fucking kidding me? Why are we discussing this? How is this even an issue? The level of bigotry required for this to be a problem for someone is truly terrifying.

prostest this shit

Image Description: An elderly white, feminine-presenting person with a walker holding a sign that reads, “I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit!”

Those promoting this specific form of transphobia claim their concern is primarily with protecting children and preventing sexual assault. It’s obvious to me, and most other queer folx, this so called “bathroom debate” is not about protecting children or preventing sexual assault at all. Nor is it really about trans people using bathrooms. However, before I explain what the “bathroom debate” is about, let’s first explore these transphobes’ claims.

First, these transphobes argue they just want to protect “The Children.” But by “The Children” they mean their children; specifically, their cis, straight, and usually white children. But setting aside the fact that these people completely ignore the existence of trans kids (something I will circle back to), let’s dig into this “but what about The Children?” argument:

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Image Description: Mr’s Banks from the TV show The Simpsons. Text reads, “Won’t somebody please think of the children?”

So, what exactly are these people trying to protect their kids from? Well, for one, they want to protect “The Children” from being “scandalized” by seeing genitalia (specifically, penises) in the women’s bathroom. My question here is, what the hell kind of bathrooms are you and your family using? While I primarily use the women’s bathroom, I have also used the men’s and gender neutral facilities. And I can honestly say I have never seen genitalia in any public bathroom – ever. My dad even used to take me in the men’s room with him when I was a toddler and there was never a problem. Okay, a little boy walked in on me once, but I think he was just as scandalized as me. So, this is really not an issue… unless these people are trying to see genitalia in public bathrooms. In which case, they’re the perverts; not trans folx who just need to take a leak. Also, if people with penises really are flinging themselves all about in men’s rooms, why are we comfortable with little boys being exposed to that? Sure, many toddlers go in the women’s room, but by 8 or 10 most kids can use public bathrooms while their guardian waits outside. So, it’s acceptable for little 10 year old boys to be flashed in the bathroom, just not little girls? That’s pretty fucked up. It’s almost as if this argument isn’t about protecting “The Children” at all… Hmm…

Another argument these transphobes make is they don’t want their children to be “confused.” Confused by what? That all humans pee and poop? Aside from the occasional mirror check, peeing and pooping is literally all that goes on in public bathrooms. Unless of course I missed the memo about all the bathroom orgies? Which would be sad, because I’m down for an orgy… although, not in a public bathroom. That’s gross.

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Image Description: A black, masculine-presenting person. Text reads, “Girl that’s nasty.”

I guarantee these same people opposing trans folx safely going to the bathroom are also brainwashing their kids with archaic, unfounded ideas about sex and gender essentialism. (Click here for more information on essentialism.) These are the people who teach their kids sex and gender are the same thing, and there are only two – “male and female” – because god says so. And anyone who doesn’t force themselves into this rigid mold is going to hell. Talk about confusing. Sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and biologists will all tell you sex and gender are not the same thing, and there are more than two of each. So, just because these people refuse to open their minds, and therefore are incapable of providing their children with accurate information on sex and gender, doesn’t mean they get to exile all trans people so their kid never questions this brainwashing. (Click here for link to more information on the differences between sex and gender)

And to circle back to trans kids (because they do actually matter) – they’re being told they have to use a bathroom that makes them uncomfortable, unsafe, and that does not match their gender. Trans girls are being told they have to use the boys’ bathroom because they are a boy – even though they’re girls – is not okay. Trans kids face enough bullying, transphobia, microaggressions, mental health challenges, and other abuse. The last thing they need is to be forced to use a bathroom that is potentially unsafe and traumatic, or at best, awkward and uncomfortable.

The last line of the what-about-The-Children? argument is usually, “I don’t feel comfortable with unsupervised men being in the bathroom with my wife and/or daughter.” Ignoring the paternalistic undertones of this statement, it sort of sounds like [cis] men are the problem. It sounds like even these overly-conservative transphobes don’t trust men to behave themselves around women. To which every woman and feminine of center person sarcastically says, “you don’t say!” Although, you certainly won’t hear these conservative, “god made men superior” -criers, binary gender roll adhere-ers admit men pose a serious threat to women. Oh no. These are the same ‘concerned’ men who blame women for their own sexual assault because of what they were wearing or how much they drank… But I’ll come back to this issue later.

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Image Description: Willy Wonka from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Text reads, “So, you don’t want to be sexually assaulted. Have you tried, like, not getting raped?”

So, if men are the problem, why are these people attacking trans women and femms for using the women’s bathroom? Oh, unless they’re misgendering trans folx, equating women with vagina/uterus owners, and are therefore referring to trans women going about their normal bathroom business as “unsupervised men.” (Hint: this is exactly what they’re doing.)

The only counter-argument to make here is that trans woman are women. This is not something that is open for discussion, as this is simply a fact. However, those who insist on being transphobic assholes and saying trans women are not “real” women, don’t get to exclude trans folxs from public facilities simply because they insist on being transphobic assholes. Not to mention, equating women with vagina/uterus owners reveals their true views on women. If she doesn’t have a vagina for them to put a dick in, or uterus to make a baby with, she is not a useful/real woman.

Now, these people might reply by saying men and women are inherently different on a biological level, and it’s not just about having a vagina/uterus. Well, that’s pseudoscience that has been disproved many times over. There are very few significant biological or genetic differences between what we have traditionally classified as “male” and “female” sexes. Given that there are only a few percentage points difference between human and chimpanzee DNA, it is ridiculous to think there are gaping biological differences between people with penises and people with vaginas. Also, studies have shown folx from different sex categories may function differently, but there are very few inherent biological or genetic differences. Much like how people from different cultures or geographical regions function differently but are still very similar on a biological and genetic level. (Click here for a summary of study on the differences between men and women’s brains.) Additionally, conceptualizing sex as a binary thing is empirically false, as more than two sexes exist. (Click here for further information on intersex.)

The second main argument these transphobes make is that women and children need to be protected from sexual assault. Yes! Finally, conservatives are acknowledging sexual assault is a pervasive problem in our society. But wait, how exactly do these transphobes think banning trans folx from public bathrooms will prevent sexual assault? First, they claim allowing trans people to pee in public toilets undisturbed will also allow cross-dressing [cis] men to easily and covertly sexually assault women and children.

Apparently, cross-dressing [cis] men will be able to sneak into the women’s bathroom unnoticed amidst a crowd of trans folx, assault a couple cis women, and disappear with all the trans folx before anyone can say shit about it. But even if that were to happen, which is highly improbable, these cross-dressing men are cis men, not trans people. So, even in this far fetched scenario trans people are not the problem, cis men are. And the many people who have been sexually assaulted by cis men are all like:

stupid

Image Description: Comedian Kevin Hart holding a microphone saying, “I gotta stop saying ‘how stupid can you be?’ I’m beginning to feel like people are taking it as a challenge”

You know who is actually likely to rape women and children? Fathers, boyfriends and husbands, teachers and coaches, the creepy neighbor, that perv-y uncle, youth-group leader, a boss, or that long-time family friend you never felt comfortable around. (Click here for more information on perpetrators sexual assaults.)

And even when a [cis] man wants to rape a stranger, he doesn’t need to cross-dress and sneak into a public bathroom. What planet do these transphobes live on? [Cis] men don’t need a ruse to sexually assault people. Women and children are regularly sexually harassed and assaulted in public spaces. Street harassment is a daily occurrence for many women and feminine-presenting folx. Fucking Br*ck T*rner committed his rape behind a dumpster. And just to drive a nail in the coffin of this absurd argument, Oklahoma State Senator, Ralph Shortey, voted for a piece of anti-trans legislation and then was caught in a hotel room with a minor (click here for the story).

The second way these bathroom bill assholes think trans folx using public bathrooms encourages sexual assaults is that it will give sexual predators a free pass because “they can just claim they’re trans.” Um, no.

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Image Description: 3 elderly white, feminine-presenting people talking in a living room. Text reads, “that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.”

Providing legal protections to trans people when using public bathrooms doesn’t negate existing laws which make assault a criminal act. Cis men and women using the men’s and women’s rooms aren’t legally allowed to assault people in the bathroom. And if a trans person assaulted anyone I’m positive they would be arrested. However, there are no reports of trans people assaulting anyone in public bathrooms. (Click here for article linking to various Trans Rights organizations’ statics) However, white cis men get away with assaulting people all the time. So, it’s not trans people getting a free pass, it’s white cis dudes. (For examples, Google any of the following names: Donald Trump, Casey Affleck, Bill O’Reily, Woody Allen.)

Of course, to non-bigots all of these “anti-trans bathroom” arguments make zero sense. These transphobes’ claims of wanting to protect “The Children” collapse with the slightest breeze like a poorly made souffle. And preventing or reducing sexual assault and trans people’s natural bodily functions have fuck all to do with each other.

If these people were actually concerned about “The Children” they would be concerned about all children, especially the most vulnerable children. Not only would I venture these assholes don’t actually care about poor kids, Black kids, undocumented kids, and kids suffering from abuse, they obviously don’t give two shits about trans kids. Never mind the fact that 92% of trans adults in the U.S. attempted suicide before 25 (click here for data from the Trevor Project). And never mind that an estimated 20 to 40% of homeless youth are trans, LGB, or otherwise queer (click here for data on homelessness in the LGBTQIA+ community). These people still want to force trans youth into unsafe bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match their gender and where they are often bullied and assaulted. So much for protecting “The Children.”

As bad as the “but what about The Children?” argument is, I am most disgusted by the supposed sexual assault prevention claims. Dear transphobic assholes, stop weaponizing sexual assault to promote your anti-trans bathroom bills. Stop pretending to care about sexual assault victims to justify your transphobia. You don’t give a flying fuck about sexual assault victims, you hypocrites!

I’ll believe these fuckwits care about preventing sexual assault, when they stop protecting/defending their own white cis rapists (for examples Google Donald Trump, Casey Affleck, Bill O’Reily, or Woody Allen). Or when the assholes making these transphobic laws stop assaulting people in bathrooms themselves. (More Republican Lawmakers Have Been Arrested For Bathroom Misconduct Than Trans People.) I’ll believe they care about victims and survivors when they start sentencing rapists to more than a few months in jail (Google the Brock Turner or Stacey Rambold rape cases). Or when they actually start holding [cis] men accountable for sexual assault. Or when they start believing folx who say they were raped. Or when they stop normalizing rape in our pop culture. Or when they stop giving boys a pass on assaulting girls because “boys will be boys.” Or when they stop sweeping sexual assault and pedophilia under the rug in religious organizations (for example, the Duggar family). 

So, if the “bathroom debate” isn’t about protecting “The Children” or preventing sexual assaults like its proponents claim, what exactly is this shitty, dehumanizing debate about? It’s actually very simple; this “bathroom debate” is about excluding trans people from public spaces. It’s about making it even more difficult to exist while being trans. It’s about continuing the oppressive systems trans and gender nonconforming folx are living under. It’s about dehumanizing trans folx in order to maintain our current cis supremacist society to the benefit of cis people.

The last thing I want to say is three days ago on June 6, 2017, Kenne McFadden, a 27 year old Black trans woman, was murdered. McFadden is the 12th trans person of colour to be murdered in the U.S. this year alone (click here for link to the news story). So, excuse me while I don’t care about your discomfort at the thought of pissing next to a trans person.

cis tears

Image Description: A white, non-binary presenting person with short brown hair wearing a blue shirt and tie holding a much that says, “cis tears.”

If you are interested in reading more about this issue, please click here for an article by Laverne Cox titled, “It’s Not About Bathrooms: Laverne Cox on the Attack Against Trans Rights.”
Or click here for an article by a trans woman named Mari Brighe titled, “What Really Happens When a Trans Woman Uses a Public Restroom.”

Liberation through Lesbianism

Image Description: two interlinked female gender symbols, which each consist of a circle with a plus sign attached to the bottom, on a rainbow pride flag background.

First of all, a disclaimer: I’m not lesbian. I’m bisexual, meaning I am attracted to genders similar to, and different from, my own. For me personally this translates into attraction toward feminine and masculine presenting folx. Yet for the vast majority of my sexually active years, I mostly had relationships with men – mostly straight, cis men. (No, this does not mean I “used to be straight,” because sexual behavior does not determin sexual orientation.) The reason for this is because it was honestly eaiser. We live in a hetero-normative society, so hetero-normative relationships are easier to enter and sustain. They’re not better or healthier; there are just more opportunities to be in one. My current, and most serious, relationship to date, however, is with a woman. Sure, I hooked up with women in the past, but those never turned into anything serious. So, having a female significant other is a new experience for me. 

It hasn’t exactly been a Hollywood movie where I date a girl for the first time when I go off to college, she reveals the wonders of the glorious vagina (note: not all women have vaginas), and I find sexual liberation. Nor did I ever expect anything like that. In fact, it’s always felt remarkably normal. But over time I have slowly noticed some differences between being in a committed relationship with a man and being in a committed relationship with a woman.

For one, I’ve felt less pressure to make myself look “hot.” Yes, we find each other attractive, but I don’t worry about her making rude little comments about my body. Instead of, “eww! Why do you have a random long-ass hair on your back? Lol,” it’s, “hey babe, you have a random long-ass hair on your back. Do you want me to pluck it for you?” And while our behavior toward each other’s bodies might not work for everyone, there’s no denying she is less critical of my body then men typically have been. She understands women’s bodies aren’t perfect – probably because she has one – but that doesn’t disqualify our bodies from being beautiful. 

However, the two most significant differences I’ve noticed between being with a woman and being with a man are (1) a lack of gross entitlement in my partner, and (2) a far lighter demand on my emotional labor.

My girlfriend does not act entitled to my body. She doesn’t assume I will have sex with her whenever she wants. She doesn’t assume I will do all the cleaning and house work even though we both work full time, and she certainly doesn’t expect me to clean up after her. She doesn’t pressure me to be friends with her friends, or demand I take her side in a debate. She doesn’t act entitled to every minute of my time, and think my entire universe revolves around her needs. She knows I’m always there for her for the important stuff, but she’s also aware I have obligations to other people and myself.

This substantially lessened demand on my emotional labor now that I’m with my girlfriend actually just hit me today. I was reading an article about how men expect the women in their lives to manage their emotions for them, and I was like, “that’s spot on! I used to have to do that all the fucking time! But now I don’t… Why is that?” The reason is twofold: One, I actually don’t have a ton of men in my life these days. I was never one of those people who only had female friends; I just kind of hung out with whomever I clicked. But lately, I just don’t have a lot of guy friends. Maybe it’s because I’m not in college anymore, my office is all women, and there aren’t that many dudes in my circle. Or maybe it’s because my tolerance for sexism and men’s bullshit has shrunk to miniscule ammounts, so all my male friends decided to bail rather than confront their sexist behaviors. I don’t know.

Reason number two should be pretty obvious: I’m no longer romantically or sexually involved with men. Therefore, the interactions I do still have with men are far less intimate. For the first time I am able to hold all the men I know at a distance if I so choose. And you know what? It’s been pretty great. Yes, I still experience harassment and abuse from male clients, male relatives, male acquaintances, and even male stangers. But when I go home at night I get a break.

I no longer come home to someone I have to mother, coddle, or play therapist to. I am no longer my significant other’s emotional landfill where they dump all their negative emotions and unprocessed feelings, expecting me to magically take care of them. I am no longer an emotional punching bag on which the man who claims to love me can take out his anger. I don’t have to worry about brusing my girlfriend’s fragile male ego. I can be direct with her, and that’s so refreshing. 

All this is not to say my girlfriend is faultless, but when she’s being an asshole I can tell her, “hey, you’re being an asshole,” without fear of having to deal with an angry display of male dominance. And can I be completely honest? I feel incredibly free without men. I didn’t realize how heavy the burden of performing emotional labor for the men in my life was until I wasn’t carrying it around anymore. I can’t say I particularly miss having men in my personal life. I deal with enough abuse from male clients at my job. Just today, I had a client throw a bitch fit because I was talking to my boss for a minute while I was on the phone with him. Never mind I had already given him 20 minutes of my time listening to him ramble incoherently, like always. Never mind that he wasn’t saying anything at that time. Never mind I was talking to my boss. Never mind he regularly talks over me, ignores me, and hangs up on me. He got shitty because someone didn’t prioritize his delicate man feelings and dared to refocus their attention off of him for a moment. Then he took that anger out on me and my boss. This is what men do, and I certainly don’t miss coming home to that.

When I studied feminist philosophy, I learned about something called “Political Lesbianism,” which essentially argues the solution to our patriarchal society is for women to simply abandon it and cut themselves off from men (or perhaps cut men off from women). Aside from the obviouse feasibility issue, Political Lesbianism is a branch of Radical Feminism that I have found to be particularly welcoming to Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. Often, cis women holding this ideology don’t view transwomen or transfeminine folx as “real” women. Political Lesbianism also de-emphasizes the importance of intersectionality and solidarity with other social justice movements. It’s more of a, “fuck you, I’m leaving” mentality, than my preferred, “fuck this, let’s join forces and dismantle this unequal society” mentality. 

While I don’t believe Political Lesbianism is the solution to our patriarchy problem, I am starting to think part of the idea might be applicable to my personal life and the personal lives of many queer feminine of center folx. When I’m asked if I would consider ever dating men again (for now, let’s ignore the biphobia in that question), I say no. Obviously, I don’t plan or want to end things with my girlfriend. But beyond that, I am really enjoying not dealing with men, their entitlement, and their demand for my emotional labor.

To the People Saying We’ll Survive Trump

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Image Description: Crowd of people standing and a few are holding signs. One sign reads, “this is not okay,” and the other sign reads, “fear…” and the rest of the sign is unreadable.

[TW: discussions of, and references to racism, Islamophobia, colonization, xenophobia, racialized violence, transphobia and other queerphobia, misogyny, sexual violence, ableism, and various types of hate crimes and bigotry]

This is to all the people telling members of various disadvantaged and oppressed groups to “calm down,” that we all just need to “come together,” and that if conservatives “survived Obama,” we’ll “survive Trump:”

SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.

Do not fucking tell us to calm down. We’re entitled to feel however the hell we feel. Do not tone police our reaction to President Toddler Hitler-lite. You have no idea where we’re coming from, and you clearly are not bothering to try to understand our very precarious situation. You’re blinded by your own privilege, so shut it.

And don’t you dare tell us we need to come together with Trump and his supporters. We are not obligated to unite with people who hate us, are bigoted toward us, and who terrify us. Trump and his supporters don’t get to be raging xenophobic, misogynistic, racists for a year and a half and then expect everyone they hate to be all hunky-dory and just fall in line. Fuck that!

How hell do you not understand that asking a person of color to set aside their own rights and well-being to make peace with a white supremacist is a giant slap in the face? Or how expecting Muslims, immigrants, or refugees to forget about all the hate and discrimination they faced from Trump and his supporters for the sake of your personal comfort is just plain heartless? Or how simply asking the LGBTQIA+ community to overlook the fact that Mike Pence and many Trump supporters think it’s perfectly acceptable to torture the f*ggot out of queer kids may cause actual trauma? Seriously, where the hell do get off asking these things of people?

Do not tell us we’ll live or we’re overreacting, because here is a list of people who will literally not survive the Trump-Pence administration:
1. Black folx and other PoC who will face increased racialized violence from police and white p*wer groups.
2. Native North Americans and Indigenous people whose land, water, and other resources will be polluted and stolen by the government and corporations.
3. Latinx people who will be racially profiled by ICE, many of whome will be illegally detained in inhumane facilities.
4. Undocumented immigrants who will likely be hunted down, rounded up into concentrated areas (does this sound vaguely familiar?), and deported.
5. Muslims who will be stigmatized even further, face an increased threat of violent hate crimes, be racially profiled by law enforcement, and who may have to register as Muslims (you know, like Jewish people in pre World War II Germany).
6. Refugees who will not be granted asylum in the U.S. Refugees who are running for their lives and have no where to go.
7. People with mental illnesses, disabled folx, and those who otherwise depend on state assistance for lifesaving healthcare.
8. People with pre-existing health issues and anyone else that relies on the regulations set forth in the ACA to obtain lifesaving health insurance coverage.
9. Any person who needs, or will need, access to affordable reproductive healthcare, including contraception, abortions, STI testing, reproductive-related cancer screenings, etc.
10. Trans and genderqueer folx who need accessible, legal avenues to change the gender identity on their legal documents (birth certificates, passports, state-issued photo IDs, etc.)
11. LGBTQIA+ folx who need access to safe transitional housing, to mental healthcare, to legal protections for their civil rights, and who will face increased rates of hate crimes.

If you don’t believe me, check out the links below. There are reports of trans suicides, racial violence, and violence against Muslim women.

And do not compare our terror and protests of Trump’s presidency to people’s animosity toward President Obama. Most people were angry about Obama’s presidency because they were racist. A few people may have simply been upset their candidate didn’t win, but let’s be honest, most of them were just racist assholes.

Those of us freaking out about Trump aren’t doing so because we’re sore losers, or because we’re bigoted assholes who are scared of losing our privilege. We’re freaked out because we know we’re about to face a living nightmare of hate crimes, police violence, and a loss of civil rights. We’re not shitty because other people might take a few steps toward equity and social justice, thereby narrowing the gaps in our social hierarchy and reducing our own privilege. We’re shitty because we’re about to take a giant step backward.

So yeah, sit your damn ass down and shut the fuck up!
Preston, Dominic. “Reports claim ‘at least 8’ trans youth died by suicide after Trump’s win,” Pink News. Nov. 10, 2016. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/11/10/reports-claim-at-least-8-trans-youth-committed-suicide-after-trumps-win/

Boyer, Ashley. Facebook Post screenshot via Kat Blaque. Nov. 10, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/kat.blaque.5/posts/1218259301582221

@Toure. Tweet screenshot via Shaun King Facebook page. Nov. 11, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/shaunking/photos/a.799605230078397.1073741828.799539910084929/1195912750447641/?type=3&theater

An Open Letter to my Father: What I Never Bother Saying 

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Image Description: the words, “Dear Dad” written in the bisexual colors of pink, purple, and blue on a dirty piece of white lined paper.

[TW: references to emotional abuse and queerphobia]

A few months ago I finally told my father and mother I am bisexual. Not surprisingly, their responses have less than decent. I’ve known for years there is no hope for my mother. I could explain how I know this but that would take far too long, so I’ll save that for another post. Just believe that I know my mother better than you, and I know she’ll never accept any of her children, least of all her queer, bisexual child. However, I allowed myself to hope my father might one day come around. I didn’t think he would go with me to bi pride events or buy himself a bi flag t-shirt that reads, “proud parent,” but I hoped he would get used to who I am and develop a “live and let live” approach at some point. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly obvious that will never happen.

Upon first breaking the news to my father, he was clearly displeased and asked several inappropriate questions. His actions proceeded to go downhill from there. Most recently, he sent me some unsolicited opinions on what he does and does not find disappointing about me. He wanted to let me know that while he is not disappointed in me per se, he is disappointed in my “lifestyle choices.” However, he reassured me that he does love me in spite of the whole bi thing, and that I could see how much he loves me if only I stopped focusing on the negatives in our relationship and focused instead on the positives. After his other recent stunts that I don’t particularly want to get into right now, I’m done. I’m over him. He’s just not worth my time anymore. He doesn’t get it and never will, so I won’t bother explaining to him how offensive and problematic his comments were.

But if I thought he would listen to me for once, I would say: Telling your child you love them despite not liking, accepting, or even tolerating a significant part of who they are is not love. That’s called emotional abuse. And if that’s the only form of “love” you’re capable of giving, I’m really not interested. There are much better people in my life who actually love me and who are worth my time. So, excuse me, but I’m not exactly heartbroken over not having a close relationship with you. You, the father who abused my mother and sister in front of me when I was little. The father who has regularly made sexist and queerphobic comments within earshot my entire life. The father who yelled at me, blamed my mother, and refused to get me professional help when you found me trying to down a Costco-sized bottle of benadryl at 13. The father who slammed me into walls. The father who literally laughed in my face when I confronted you about your abusive behavior. The father who still continues to gaslight me. In fact, I am a much healthier person for not really having you in my life.

And please believe me when I say I’m not going to suddenly run home one day and tell you I forgive you and know that you always loved me. There’s nothing to forgive because you won’t change or apologize. Forgiveness requires some sort of reconciliation. To be honest, you seem to lack the ability to perform any sort of meaningful self-reflection that is required for mutual acts of reconciliation. Instead, I am moving on with my life and surrounding myself with decent people who love me for me; people who love all of me. (That’s how real love works, FYI.) And based on your behavior toward me, how exactly am I supposed to know that you love me? I’m sure you think you love me, but that doesn’t mean anything. Love has to be given in a way that can be received. Metaphorically throwing your self-centered version of love at people and assuming it will stick is not an effective or equitable method of conveying love. I would even believe you “love” me as much as you are capable,  but again, that doesn’t mean much to me when that “love” is twisted, selfish, abusive, and manipulative.

Your queerphobia, hatred, and inability to convey healthy love to your children are your own problems, not mine. It isn’t my job to justify your bigotry, ease your conscience, or make you feel like you’re loving me appropriately. I don’t owe you my love or understanding when you believe I, your own child, shouldn’t exist because of who I happen to be attracted to. I don’t owe you my time or affection simply because you gave me half my DNA. I don’t even owe you an explanation for why I don’t want to be around you. I don’t owe you shit. And I’m not going to sacrifice my emotional well-being to make you feel better about yourself.

If you ever decide to work through these issues, great. Professional therapy is a wonderful tool that I utilize myself. But I’m not interested in having a relationship with you. I’m not bitter; I’m simply done. If we need to conduct any sort of business together, I will be superficial, yet civil. But I will not listen to your excuses, nor your sad little pity parties about how I don’t acknowledge your shitty version of love.

8 Types of “Male Feminists” who are Actually Misogynists

In mainstream feminism (by “mainstream feminism” I mean white, western, able-body, and cisgender -centric feminism) there is substantial discourse on whether or not men can be feminists, and on the ways feminism benefits men in addition to women. It should be noted this discourse, like mainstream feminism, speaks from the gender binary. I am not promoting binary feminism, and I fully recognize one of the many problems with mainstream feminism is the exclusion of trans woman, non-binary trans folx, and other gender nonconforming people.

Another problem with mainstream feminism, and the one I’ll be focusing on here, is that it often hides, or even enables, sexism in various ways. One such way is that it allows [cis] men to proclaim themselves “male feminists” without acknowledging how they benefit from, and contribution to, patriarchal systems of oppression. There are numerous types of self-described “male feminists” who use the problematic nature of this mainstream feminism to hide and/or justify their misogyny. Below is a non-exhaustive list:

1. Captain Feminism

This guy is ready to smash all the patriarchy!

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Image Description: masculine-presenting superhero wearing a black and blue suit with red cape kicks feminine-presenting superhero wearing red and yellow suit while taking off in flight toward the sky

He swoops uninvited into the daily goings on of women and feminine of center folx in order to rescue them from the horrors of the patriarchy. Are you a sex worker? Captain Feminism will save you from your terrible life of being sexually exploited by getting you an honest job at McDonald’s that pays a whopping $8.25 an hour, where you’ll be treated like crap by customers and managers alike. Having a conversation with a man who says something sexist? Fear not! Before you have the chance to speak up for yourself, Captain Feminism will verbally bitch slap that sexist pig with his snarky feminist comeback he got from an internet meme or an episode of Inside Amy Schumer. Going on a date? Captain Feminism will stop you from shaving your legs and succumbing to the patriarchy just in the nick of time! (Phew! That was close.)

With his sexism-deflecting shield and his patriarchy-smashing hammer, Captain Feminism is ready for whatever is thrown his way… Unless, of course, he’s asked to take a step back so women and feminine of center folx can take the lead in feminist movements, to give them space to speak for themselves, or to be quiet and let women and feminine of center folx decide for themselves what’s in their best interests.

This is a form of benevolent sexism (more on what benevolent sexism is here), where Captain Feminism reinforces stereotypical gender rolls by assuming women are weak and need saving, rather than understanding women and feminine of center folx have simply been held down by patriarchal systems of oppression, and just need some supportive male allies to hold other men accountable for their sexist actions. He also can’t imagine how his bulldozing methods of combating sexism might actually cause more harm that good.

2. Mr. Helpful

This guy loves giving every woman and feminine-presenting person he meets little tips on how to be good feminists or how to deal with the patriarchal nightmare that is our society. Wondering if something you said was unfeminst? No need to ask a community of well-informed feminists, Mr. Helpful will be more than happy to answer that for you. Worried about being sexually assaulted? Mr. Helpful will gladly recommend a specific brand of pepper spray or sagely advise purchasing a pair of anti-rape underwear (yes, that’s actually a thing, click here to see the commercial).

While Mr. Helpful has genuinely good intentions, he’s too wrapped up in those good intentions (or in defending those good intentions whenever confronted about his own problematic behavior) to think about underlying patriarchal systems of oppression that, for example, have created a society where anti-rape underwear are necessary. Like Captain Feminism, Mr. Helpful is also prone to benevolent sexism, always thinking women and feminine of center folx are unable to figure out how to feminism themselves, and are thus in need of his help… In other words, he’s patronizing as fuck.

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Image Description: a white feminine-presenting person in red apron standing in a kitchen looking confused. Text Reads: “how do I feminism? If only I had a man around to tell me”

3. Cookie Monster

(copyright 1969; intellectual property of Double Fine Productions, Sesame Workshop, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

This guy totally thinks women should be treated equal to men, and that women get a raw deal… from other guys. That’s why he never contributes to sexism, and he just wants to make sure everyone knows that. He also expects recognition from feminists for his marginal human decency. That is to say, he wants cookies. He wants cookies for not beating his girlfriend, raping his sister, or for abstaining from some other, albeit monstrous, but rather stereotypical form of overt sexism. And he wants cookies for being a “male feminist” – something he believes he is simply because he’s never beat his girlfriend, raped his sister, or engaged in any other stereotypical violently misogynist behavior.

He typically trolls online feminist spaces and butts into discussions that have nothing to do with him in order to reassure everyone he’s never done, said, or thought X.
Example: *someone posts a very personal story about their experience as a rape victim and survivor*
*Cookie Monster comments, “that’s so terrible, I would never do that!”*
Sorry, Cookie Monster, but no one’s giving you a cookie for that. Trust me, the rape survivor already knows rape is terrible. And kudos on the not raping anyone thing, but you don’t really get an award for “Never Sexually Assaulted a Person” anymore than you get one for “Never Killed Someone With an Ax.”

RS90s-cup-trophy

Image Description: gold hand giving thumbs up trophy with a plaque that says, “not a total shit.”

Cookie Monster might seem innocent enough, after all, he’s made it very clear he’s not a rapist or murderer. But when women and feminine of center feminists refuse to give him his cookies and suck his dick in appreciation of his “male feminism” splendor, he can become verbally abusive, and sometimes a little scary. His comments will basically devolve into “not all men,” and “I’m not a sexist, but…” He will accuse feminists of being “misandrists” and “feminazis” for “overgeneralizing” and “lumping all men into the same category” (i.e., the category of sexist). He will tell feminists they’ll never acomplish anything if they push away all the “rational” people, and what he really means is they’ll never accomplish anything without him so they better give him his damn cookie. He might even aggressively harass and cyber stalk women and feminine of center folx in order to (a) convince them he’s really a nice guy, and (b) calmly explain how they’re total bitches for not acknowledging that.

4. The Femin-izer

This guy is a little different from the rest because he doesn’t actually believe he’s a “male feminist.” The femin-izer simply pretends to be a “male feminist” in order to pick up [primarily] women. He’ll use feminist buzzwords – such as “wage gap” and “patriarchy” – as conversation starters, but will have absolutely no understanding of those concepts. Then, he’ll namedrop – Sheryl Sandberg and Beyoncé (that’s it, those are literally the only powerful women he knows) – to make himself seem more impressive. He thinks feminism is stupid, but he also feels entitled to use it as his ticket to ride.

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Image Description: a white masculine-presenting person with blond hair crying. Text Reads: “said I was a feminist but she still wouldn’t sleep with me”

Frankly, I don’t know which group has it worse – the people who call his bluff and reject him, or the people he successfully deceives. The former won’t get their hearts broken or be trapped in an unhealthy relationship with him, but they might get beat up or raped if they reject the wrong femin-izer. The latter, on the other hand, are at risk for becoming emotionally invested with a guy who isn’t what he claims to be, and is actually a raging asshole.

gob-bluth

Image Description: I white masculine-presenting person in red sweater with a look of dread. Text Reads: “I’ve made a huge mistake”

5. Ryan Gosling

(for legal purposes note I am not referring to Ryan Gosling the 35 year old actor; any resemblance to Ryan Gosling the actor is purely coincidental)

This is the guy who’s either featured in, and/or the creator of, the “Hey Girl” memes. He thinks every personal and social crisis can be solved with an inspirational quote or funny cat video. And while his thoughtfulness is genuine, being a “male feminist” is more of a hobby for him. After all, Ryan Goslings are typically white, middle to upper class, straight, cis, Christian-raised men – i.e., the epitome of privilege. He can’t imagine being a feminist because his very life depends on it. He can’t imagine working in an economy that systemically devalues his labor on the basis of his gender, facing regular threat of sexual assault, or the intersectional struggles of WoC, trans women, and women with mental or physical impairments.

Because of his immense, largely unacknowledged, privilege Ryan Gosling often thinks feminists overreact to, or even imagine, instances of discrimination and oppression. He thus trivializes the lived experiences of women and feminine of center folx, who deal with very real interpersonal and systemic patriarchal oppression on a daily basis.

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Image Description: a white masculine-presenting person with blond hair and glasses looking very sincere. Text Reads: “Hey girl, I know 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted, but here’s a cute cat video”

6. Professor Feminism (aka: The Mansplainer)

This guy goes around “educating” women and feminine of center folx on what does and does not oppress them, what is and is not sexist, and what they should and should not find offensive. If they fail to find something oppressive, sexist, and/or offensive that they should (according to Professor Feminism) he will kindly explain – or mansplain – to all the women and feminine-presenting folx within earshot why that thing is oppressive, sexist, and/or offensive. Conversely, if someone finds something oppressive, sexist, and/or offensive that isn’t (according to Professor Feminism) oppressive, sexist, and/or offensive he’ll happily mansplain that to everyone, as well.

His other favourite activities include mansplaining what feminism is, mansplaining what the best form of feminism is, mansplaining how women and feminine of center folx can be better feminists, and mansplaining why any problematic behavior of his is not an instance of sexism, but rather a shining example of feminist excellence.

190sdls4g3zuejpg

Image Description: a white masculine-presenting person with long dark hair and a mustache. Text Reads: “Let me mansplain. No, there is too much. Let me mansumup.”

Now, one might think because he is a man, it isn’t really Professor Feminism’s place to be “educating” women and feminine of center feminists on what sexism and feminism are. After all, we all have a pretty good first hand understanding of both. But surprisingly being a man makes him uniquely qualified to “educate” women and feminine of center feminists on feminist issues because he’s “been on the other side.” He may not have experienced sexism, but he’s dished it out so he knows how it is.

Since leaving the dark side and joining the Feminist Force, he’s in the perfect position to become Professor Feminism, because he understands “both sides of the issue.” He’s the one who can be “objective,” “rational,” and “unbiased.” He won’t say as much, but this means he thinks women and feminine of center folx are incapable of being objective thinkers who fully comprehend the complex dynamics of gender power relations and patriarchal systems of oppression. We’re “too close to the issue…” We’re irrational… We’re hysterical?

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Image Description: black and white photo of a white feminine-presenting person talking on an old phone. Text Reads: “The 1950s are calling they want their outdated opinions back”

7. Free Pass Frank

Free Pass Frank is a lot like The Femin-izer, except he really believes himself to be a “male feminist.” However, he uses his self-perceived status as a “male feminist” to excuse his blatant sexism and misogyny like a get out of jail free card.

Get-out-of-jail-free

Image Description: a masculine-presenting person in a striped prison suite being kicked in the butt by a boot. Text Reads: “Chance: This card may be kept until needed or sold. Get out of jail free”

Free Pass Frank will make sexist comments, laugh at rape jokes made by his dudebros, objectify women and feminine-presenting folx, and treat women and feminine of center folx with covert, misogynistic disdain. Yet he’ll express his acceptance of abortion and maybe donate to women’s organizations to ease his conscience and prove his “male feminism.”

Other men – since they have the good fortune of never actually experiencing sexism and misogyny, and therefore can’t recognize sexist and misogynistic behavior unless it’s glaringly obvious – will think Free Pass Frank is a good guy. These other men, especially Professor Feminism, will be quick to mansplain away any concerns women and feminine of center feminists have about Free Pass Frank’s behavior. After all, he’s totally fine with women having careers (so long as they aren’t his boss). It doesn’t bother him if some women aren’t sexually interested in him (because those women are obviously all lesbians). He’s not even bigoted toward trans women or otherwise queer feminine of center folx (he’s just understandably terrified of accidentally having sex with a “man” because he’s not a “f*ggot”), and those people need to take all the support they can get.

Because men’s opinions are the only ones that matter, Free Pass Frank is secure in the knowledge he’s not sexist or misogynistic. How could he be? He’s a “male feminist,” which is, by definition, the opposite of being a sexist/misogynist.

8. White Cis Gay Men
why-are-some-gay-guys-so-misogynist-1447196106

Image Description: a white masculine-presenting person with blond hair, wearing a pink shirt with a yellow equal sign on it, and holding a sign that says, “vaginas are disgusting.”

It’s not clever, but the name is pretty self-explanatory. There are a large number of white cis gay men who are extremely misogynistic, transphobic, and racist. They regularly comment on and invade women’s and feminine-presenting folx’s bodies, make transmisogynist “ewww! vaginas!” jokes, appropriate queer culture and history, exclude queer men of colour from their community, and actively reinforce the gender binary and patriarchal gender rolls. For a more in-depth discussion of gay men’s misogyny click here.

Cis gay men can be some of the harshest judges of feminine bodies. Their male entitlement affords them the freedom to make rude and disgusting comments about women and feminine-presenting folx, and their sexuality excuses them because they’re not doing it in a sexual way. They’ll shame bodies that have “female” traits and think it’s acceptable just because they don’t personally find those traits sexually appealing. Some cis gay men will even go so far as to grope women and feminine-presenting folx, but “it’s okay because I’m gay.” While the assault my not be sexual, it’s still a display of dominance. These men are saying, “even though I’d never fuck you because female bodies are sexually repulsive, I can still do whatever I want to you because I’m a man. But it’s fine because I’d never actually rape you… because you’re gross.”

[I’d like to quickly point out not only is this disgust with “female” bodies misogynistic, it’s also incredibly transphobic. Many trans men have so-called “female” body parts (to be clear, trans men are men, so their bodies are really men’s bodies), plenty of whom are gay themselves.]

White cis gay men also have a bad track record of appropriating queer culture and history. The best recent example is the movie, Stonewall, where white cis gay men are painted as the heroes of the 1969 Stonewall riots and the early LGBTQ+ rights movement. In reality, it was two trans women of colour, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, who lead the Stonewall riots and many of the early LGBTQ+ liberation movements.

White cis gay men think because they’re not heterosexual they don’t reek of privilege. They think the one marginalized aspect of their identity negates the need to check their cis, white, or male privilege. They will appeal to their sexuality as justification for actively contributing to and reaping the rewards of patriarchal systems of oppression. They also have this weird conception of diversity where they think they are diversity. In other words, that one marginalized part of their identity makes them, as an individual, diverse. Therefore, white cis gay men can check off the “diversity box” all by themselves; no need to include women, trans folx, people with mental or physical impairments, or Black guys.

real diversity

Two photos: On Left: four light skinned, masculine-presenting people standing behind rainbow coloured balloons. Text Reads: “What gay men think diversity looks like.” On Right: a group of feminine-presenting folx standing on a stage in front of a microphone, some are PoC, some are people of size, some are trans women. Text Reads: “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity. -Laura Prepon” 

 

In Conclusion…

One thing all these “male feminists” have in common (with perhaps the exception of The Femin-izer) is the perception that sexism is something men, specifically other men, do, instead of a system of gender-based disadvantage and oppression which functions on an institutional level, and from which these “male feminists” are always benefiting. In other words, they all recognize sexism is bad, but believe it’s only something other guys, bad guys, participate in. He’s not a bad guy, in fact, he wants to help end sexism, so he can’t possibly be sexist. This rationalization – along with his half-assed allyship – enables the “male feminist” to distance himself from the complex social problem that is Sexism. He can thus remain blissfully ignorant about his own male privilege, and reassure himself he isn’t part of the problem while still benefiting from, and even participating in, patriarchal oppression (i.e., he still is part of the problem).

So, he lashes out when women and feminine of center folx point out his own male privilege and his own sexist behaviors and attitudes. Suddenly someone’s challenging his overly rosy view of himself and suggesting that he might actually benefit from institutional sexism. That for all his good intentions he might be part of the problem, and that he – *gasp* – might even be a SEXIST!

The Privilege of Post-Terrorism Support & Sympathy

Paris overshaddowing beirut

Image Description: A photo of street in Beirut after most recent terrorist attack. There is a crowd of people, rubble, blown up cars, signs and banners, and Lebanese flags. There is a photo of an eye with the pupil the colours of the French flag with the Eiffel tower in the middle overlaid on the photo of the street in Beirut.

My Thoughts on the Paris Attacks and on Terrorism in General:

First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest sympathies with everyone impacted by the recent Paris attacks. The pain and fear Paris residents are experiencing is very real, and I by no means wish to invalidate or minimize that. I believe violence (except in the case of self-defense) is always intolerable, and there is absolutely no justification for terrorism.

I say all this because I know some people will be angered by what I’m going to say next. They might claim I don’t care about the Parisian victims. They might get defensive, claim they care about all victims of terrorism, but say Paris is just the most recent site of grief. They might argue that because the Paris attacks are such a fresh wound, this isn’t an appropriate time to focus on other cases of terror-based violence. So, I want to be clear that I do grieve for the loss of life and devastation in Paris, and I’m not excusing or minimizing terrorism or any other form of violence. And that is all I’m going to say in defense of my grief for Paris; anyone who doesn’t believe me can sod off.

The international support for France, and Paris specifically, after the terrorists attacks by ISIS was quick to appear and far-reaching in the western world. People rushed to tweet about their solidarity, change their Facebook profile picture to a a photo of the Eiffel Tower or French flag, or post an artsy “Pray For Paris” banner on whatever social media sight they favour (or use Google Translate to say “Prier Pour Paris,” which may or may not be correct, if they want people to know they really care about Paris). People all over the west are holding candlelight vigils in the name of France, Paris, and those who died. France’s neighbors and allies are supporting them politically as they drop 24 bombs on Syria in one night (Brumfield et al. 2015). Western media erupted with outpourings of sympathy for France, condemnation of terrorism, and demands for their own leaders to take action against ISIS. The New York Times, BBC, The Guardian, all the major news publications, and some local ones are talking nonstop about Paris, reporting on every detail, expressing their shock and grief. Even a certain well-known hacker group has declared cyber-war on ISIS because of the Paris attacks. (I could make a lot of jokes about this cyber threat on ISIS, but I don’t really want to get hacked by an angsty member of that group who randomly stumbles across this 9 months from now at 2 am.)

At first glance, this international support and sympathy might seem admirable to some folx. After all, isn’t it a good thing to have compassion for other people who are suffering? We might not be be French or live in Paris, but we care about the victims and their loved ones because they’re people too and we care what happens to them as global citizens, right? Yes, of course compassion is a good thing. But where was the mass international post-terrorist attack support for the people of Beirut last Thursday (the day before the Paris attacks) when 43 people were killed and 239 were wounded by an ISIS terrorist attack? (Wellman 2015) Or last April when at least 147 people were shot and killed in an assault by al-Shabab militants on a university in north-eastern Kenya (BBC 2015)? Or every day in Syria where a civil war has been raging for four years in addition to the “helpful” airstrikes from western “allies” that, at best, only destroy the country’s infrastructure. A total of 210,060 people have died in Syria over the past four years of war; that works out to be approximately 144 people a day – many of them civilians (Ahmed 2015). In fact, France is launching airstrikes over Syria now in response to the Paris attacks. Where are the candle light vigils for the Syrians who will likely be killed in those attacks?

None of those places received anywhere close to the same level of media coverage and international support as Paris did after terrorist attacks. And this is the norm; the western world largely ignores terrorism – which happens daily – until it happens to them. The global hierarchy places western life, specifically white, christian western life above the lives of Black and Brown folx living in countries we [westerns] don’t views as significant, autonomous players in international politics.

This double standard of support, sympathy, and even the recognition of incidents of violence as terrorism is problematic in several ways. First, it allows the west to ignore terrorism – the terrorism that we often fund, politically back, or are otherwise complicate in – in “insignificant” regions that harms “unimportant” Black and Brown people. The U.S. (and other western countries) like to think of ourselves as the world’s protector. We claim to have zero tolerance for global injustice and talk about our supposed duty to protect any week kids getting bullied by bad guys on the world’s metaphorical playground. (In reality, the U.S. is more like an abusive big brother who barges into their younger siblings’ bedrooms, uninvited, to fix problems which we often created in the first place.) Yet we ignore the daily violence and terror faced in places like Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Palestine, Somalia, and Nigeria because they’re unimportant to us. But when places like France are attacked, we’re deeply saddened and outraged. This allows us to oppose terrorism when it’s convenient and beneficial to our own interests, and turn a blind eye to – or even promote or engage in – terrorism at other times.

Second, this double standard prioritizes the life of white westerners over the lives of Black and Brown non-westerners. Beirut was attacked the day before Paris was attacked, but how many people did you see posting “Pray for Beirut,” or a Lebanese flag? In fact, Facebook didn’t even offer a Lebanese flag filter until a few people started pointing out how offensive that was.  Much of the west remained unaware Beirut had been devastated by a terrorist attack for days because they were only focused on Paris. Even when folx found out about other attacks, their reactions were… muted?… at best. To put it more bluntly, reactions to terrorism in non-westerns places were/are callus. We [westerners] either expect terrorism to regularly occur in places like Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Palestine, etc., and view it as an inevitable fact of life, or don’t care about those cases of terrorism because they’re so far removed from our own lives. And whenever someone mentioned Paris shouldn’t be given more media attention or international support than Beirut (or any other non-western country affected by terrorism), many westerns grew defensive about their one-sided sympathy for Parisians. “We supposed care about Paris?! We can care about more than one thing at a time!” For one, of course we’re supposed to care about Paris, so long as we also care about other cities devastated by terrorism. Two, that’s the whole point: we don’t actually care about multiple things at one time, but we should. We should care just as much about everyone affected by terrorism. And we should prioritize those who suffer the most from terrorism, which happens to be Muslim, Middle Eastern, North African, and some Southeast Asian folx – not white people.

Third, this double standard excuses western nations from taking responsibility for their contributing rolls in the rise of international terrorist organizations. The U.S. is not the only western nation who has contributed financially, politically, and militarily to international terrorism. However, I’m going to use the U.S. as an example. The U.S. funded the mujahideen (who were groups of religious extremist guerrilla fighters) in Afghanistan to fight our proxy war with Soviet Russia in the 1970s, because OMG! Communism! The war devastated Afghanistan’s infrastructure and political system, leaving the country unstable and vulnerable to violent authoritarianism. Infighting broke out between the different factions of the mujahideen. No longer financially backed by the United States, some of them sought refuge in religious fundamentalist schools in Saudi Arabia. The Taliban was born from these fundamentalist. The Taliban proceeded to destroy Afghanistan’s social and political structures, terrorize the Afghan people, and rule the country with an iron fist. By the late 1990s, the brutality of the Taliban had reached nearly all of Afghanistan. Afghan folx were certainly experiencing terrorism (and still do), but the west called this terrorism a civil war. There responsibility for Afghanistan’s perilous situation was thus removed from the shoulders of the west and places squarely on Afghanistan as a country (and their people), even though the State of Afghanistan didn’t start the proxy war with the Soviets. But because we don’t call it terrorism, but a “civil war,” we [the west] can remove ourselves from our role in this terrorism.

Finally, this double standard paints certain forms of terrorism, especially state-sanctioned domestic terrorism, as another form of  violence or mere tragedy. When we only acknowledge acts of terrorism as terrorism if they are committed in a western country by non-western groups, we erase the experiences of those victimized by less stereotypical terrorism. For instance: given that so many Black Americans (and other people of colour, espcially Native Americans) are killed by police under suspicious or outright brutal circumstances, what do you think people of colour in the U.S. feel every time they must interact with law enforcement? Terror? This is definitely a type of terrorism; it’s state-sanctioned terrorization of a particular group of people. Or what about trans and gender non-conforming folx? Over 20 trans women alone were murdered in the U.S. so far in 2015 (Kellaway and Brydum 2015). According to Trans Murder Monitoring Project reports, a trans person is murdered approximately every 3 days worldwide (Balzer 2009). Additionally, trans and gender non-conforming people face threats of abuse and harassment daily. Too many socially and politically marginalized folx have to live in fear of harm or death. If that’s not terrorism, I don’t know what is.

These one-sided reactions to terrorism and double standards in the way we [westerners] conceptualize terrorism have real world consequences. Namely, those most regularly and severely affected by terrorism go largely unnoticed by the powerful west, which allows the terrorism committed against them to continue. Terrorism and violence are always horrible no matter who it happens to, but westerns do have the privilege of sympathy, international support, and the recognition of being ‘real’ victims of terrorism.

Sources:

Ahmed, Beenish, “Syrian Refugee Puts Paris Attacks Into Perspective In One Simple Sentence,” ThinkProgress, 2015, http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/11/15/3722379/paris-refugees/

Balzer, Carson, 2009, http://www.liminalis.de/2009_03/TMM/tmm-englisch/Liminalis-2009-TMM-report2008-2009-en.pdf.

Brumfield, Ben, Tim Lister and Nick Paton Walsh, “French jets bomb ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria; few may have been killed,” CNN, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/16/middleeast/france-raqqa-airstrikes-on-isis/.

Kellaway, Mitch and Sunnivie Brydum, “These Are the U.S. Trans Women Killed in 2015,”  Advocate, 2015, http://www.advocate.com/transgender/2015/07/27/these-are-trans-women-killed-so-far-us-2015.

“Kenya attack: 147 dead in Garissa University assault,” BBC, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32169080.

Wellman, Nathan, “One Day Before Paris, There Was a Massive Terrorist Attack the Media Ignored,” US Uncut, 2015, http://usuncut.com/world/beirut-this-terrorist-attack-didnt-get-any-media/.

The Dark Side of Repealing the “Bathroom Bill”

Image Description: A person with short black hair, wearing a red hoodie, and standing in front of two public bathroom doors - one with a female symbol (left) and one with a male symbol (right). Text Reads: Under the female symbol it says,

Image Description: A person with short black hair, wearing a red hoodie, and standing in front of two public bathroom doors – one with a female symbol (left) and one with a male symbol (right).
Text Reads: Under the female symbol it says, “get yelled at.” Under the male symbol it says, “get beat up.”

In the wake of the death of Houston’s Human Rights Ordinance (HERO) – for a little background on HERO and it’s demise click here – lots of people have been talking about trans folx and public bathrooms. Essentially what happened is a bunch of religious bigots successfully advocated the repeal of HERO because they don’t think trans or genderqueer folx should be able to pee in whatever public bathroom they feel most comfortable. They seem to think that, because they base their transphobia on their religion, they get to impose their transphobic beliefs on other people in public spaces. Yes, this is ridiculous as it sounds. And yes, it’s incredibly sad these people were successful in killing an ordinance that extended protections in housing, employment, and public facilities to people of all sexual and gender identities just because they wanted to control where trans and genderqueer folx pee, take a shit, fix their hair, or make an offering to the porcelain god after pounding one too many jager bombs (drinks may vary, end result does not).

People have since found various ways to ridicule this mentality. Some trans folx are posting selfies on social media of them using the [legally] “correct” bathroom to document the awkwardness of having to use a bathroom they don’t really belong in. Example: Michael Hughes, a trans man, has been posting his uncomfortable-for-everyone-involved visits to the women’s bathroom.

Image Description: Michael Hughes, a white trans man, wearing a baseball cap and an orange t-shirt taking a selfie in the mirror of a public women's bathroom. There are two feminine-presenting people in the background looking awkwardly at Michael.

Image Description: Michael Hughes, a white trans man, wearing a baseball cap and an orange t-shirt taking a selfie in the mirror of a public women’s bathroom. There are two feminine-presenting people in the background looking awkwardly at Michael.

Along the same lines, Kelly Lauren, a trans women, posted a picture of herself dressed to the nine in a men’s bathroom with the caption, “Houston, do you REALLY want me in the same restroom as your husband or boyfriend?”

Image Description: A photo of Kelly Lauren, a white blond trans woman, in a red dress standing between several masculine-presenting individuals using urinals in a men's public bathroom.

Image Description: A photo of Kelly Lauren, a white blond trans woman, in a red dress standing between several masculine-presenting individuals using urinals in a men’s public bathroom.

While such mockery does highlight the lack of logic behind movements to prevent trans and genderqueer folx from using the bathroom they want, it also makes light of the situation. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good mocking of bigoted ideology, and comedy is a great method of social critique. However, only focusing on the absurdity of these transphobic views about bathroom usage ignores the very real threat trans and genderqueer folx face when they are forced into unsafe places, like the wrong – excuse me, “correct,” – bathroom.

Trans women and feminine-presenting genderqueer folx are especially at risk for harassment and abuse in all situations, even public ones. According to a 2012 NCAVP report, 53% of anti LGBTQIA+ homicides were of trans women (Giovanniello, 2013). While homicide may be the most extreme form of violence, trans women and feminine-presenting genderqueer folx experience disproportionately high rates of violence and abuse in general, including sexual assault. (Please note: I understand other groups, like disabled folx and people of colour, also experience high rates of violence; I’m just talking about trans and genderqueer folx right now.) If you don’t believe the threat of violence to trans women and feminine-presenting genderqueer folx is extremely high, please read this Mother Jones article here, titled “It’s Incredibly Scary to Be a Transgender Woman of Color Right Now,” or check out Google here, and do a little research of your own.

And who are the most likely perpetrators of this violence? (If you don’t know the answer, you should probably stop reading and go educate yourself.) Those in power. And what large group of people holds the majority of power in our society? Cis men. (Not all cis men! I’m a cis man and I’ve never killed a trans woman! There, I’ve said it for you, now shut up with the #notallmen-style comments.) Tans women and feminine-presenting genderqueer folx in Houston are being forced into confined spaces full of cis male strangers. Spaces which, despite the name, are not very public. Spaces people typically enter alone. Spaces that are often at the back of the bar or store – away from witnesses. Spaces that are unavoidable. Spaces that everyone should be able to use safely and comfortably.

So, yes, it is laughably absurd that some people think those with particular gender identities should not be able to pee where they feel comfortable. And yes, it is disheartening to see hate extend to even the damn toilet. But the more pressing issue here is safety. Forcing trans women and feminine-presenting genderqueer folx into a rather secluded space with people who, statistically, may very well pose a serious threat makes the otherwise routine act of taking a piss a risky endeavor. Repealing HERO is dangerous for the trans and genderqueer people of Houston. And those who repealed it are callous toward that danger.

If you would like to do something to make a difference for trans and genderqueer folx being forced into potentially dangerous situations every time they need to pee, take part in the #I’llGoWithYou project. For more information on it, click here.

Sources Cited:

  1. Giovanniello, Sarah, “NCAVP report: 2012 hate violence disproportionately targets transgender women of colour,” GLAAD.org, 2013, http://www.glaad.org/blog/ncavp-report-2012-hate-violence-disproportionately-target-transgender-women-color