Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Unending War Against the Transgendered

After the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage I predicted in a column in VEER magazine that the likely losers were transgender Americans who would see the wrath of the Christofascists who could no longer deny civil marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.  The successful anti-transgender campaign in Houston was in part a symptom of this phenomenon.  The simple truth is that the godly folk want those who are transgender (and gays as well) to simply disappear or, if one belongs to groups like those visited by Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal, die.  We are an affront to their fairy tale religious beliefs and, just like members of ISIS, these knuckle draggers want to eliminate anyone who does not subscribe to their ignorance embracing misogyny.  Another piece in the New York Times looks at the far rightrs increased war against transgender Americans and ties their tactics to those of the Jim Crow era.  Here are highlights:

The social conservatives, local pastors and church groups who opposed HERO were not discouraged by the fact that the law never mentions bathrooms, except to guarantee that they have accommodations for people with disabilities. HERO opponents argued that by allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, the ordinance would give men license to dress as women for the purpose of committing sexual assault in women’s restrooms. That transgender women and men have never once attacked anyone in the restroom of their gender identity didn’t matter. That men do commit such attacks without dressing in drag didn’t dissuade them either.

It’s significant that now, as in the Jim Crow South, the battlefield is the public bathroom. Rules around bathroom access have long been used to enforce boundaries of race, physical ability or gender. Bathrooms are a place where discrimination becomes socially acceptable under the guise of public health.

In America, to “pass” for white has meant to move through public spaces, like bathrooms or lunch counters, with the freedoms and privileges that accompany the social markers of whiteness. In gay culture, to “pass” means to fit into the heterosexual world without “detection” of your sexual orientation, and thus to avoid homophobic harassment or abuse.

Telling people which bathroom they’re allowed to enter privileges those transgender people who can pass as cisgender. Short of a medical examination outside each restroom, how can anyone know for sure what someone’s biological sex is? Worse, the campaign against HERO reiterates that all women must match certain socially-constructed standards of appearance.

And by focusing the campaign on children, HERO opponents inculcate kids with the message that they cannot be perceived by their peers (and the broader world) the way they perceive themselves.

For children and teens struggling with gender dysphoria (a disconnect between a person’s sex at birth and their gender identity), high school can be even more hellish than it is for the general public. And the torment and stigma transgender people in America experience can be deadly. More than 40 percent of transgender adults have attempted suicide.
HERO’s opponents were so successful in their faux-feminist campaign that they’re now taking it to other cities, like Dallas. This month, the Dallas City Council unanimously approved an addition to their 2002 equal rights ordinance to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Several of the same Republican officials who led the anti-HERO campaign Houston have been quick to pounce on the amendment as a “new sneak-attack LGBT ordinance,” that was not “thoughtfully considered by the public.” A petition to repeal the entire ordinance, and a drive to move the 2016 Texas Republican Party convention out of Dallas, are underway.

As the laws of segregation reinforced the binary of black and white, the anti-HERO warriors are attempting to reinforce a particular definition of gender and sexuality, framing it in terms of women’s need for protection. Perhaps they should be working to stop men from committing rape, or addressing women’s actual health concerns, rather than deciding who is allowed to pee in the next stall.

What we all need is protection from is the bigotry and ignorance of the "godly folk."  They are free to do whatever demented bull shit they want when gathered in the churches (all of which need to lose tax-exempt status), but when they venture out in public, their beliefs and the myths they cling to in order to feel better about themselves, have no place in the public square.  Americans are focused on the danger of Islamic extremism.  They need to be equally concerned with Christian extremism here at home.  They also need to shed the myth that conservative Christians are kind and decent people - they are not.

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