Aside from, you know, being a decent human being.
I have a pair of sandals I rather like. They’re beaded, the colours all in the turquoise range. The rest of the sandal is a very light beige. They’re lovely. And massively comfortable.
What does this have to do with NC? Well, you see, I’m very hesitant to wear my sandals in public. I don’t know what the reaction will be. It’s the same reason I don’t express in an overly feminine manner when I go out on the town—I don’t know what the reactions will be and I fear for my safety.
Caveat: I grew up in Chicago, so fearing for my safety is kind of a standard life mode.
I’m non-binary, not transgender, so I have the luxury of being able to be a gender chameleon. But as much as I really don’t want attention drawn to myself, I also want to be able to express the way I want. To wear that top I think is really pretty. And not have to worry about what is said or done to me.
Which is why these bathroom bills are so tragic, especially when we take a look at the full scope of the bill.
Trans people I know don’t really want attention. In fact, they shun it. They don’t want to make a scene, which is what makes gendered public toilets such a difficult thing. Odds are most of us have been in a bathroom with a trans person and didn’t know it. Which is kind of the point. I don’t know about you, but I do not—and I know no one who does—seek out the genitals of others in public restrooms. Or really anywhere in public. That’s a consensual thing to be done once you’re not in public. Oh, and it’s fun at that point.
So now an issue where people generally didn’t have any problems by doing the right thing has become a hot-button issue… and just in time for an election year. Would you look at that!
Trans people don’t want your attention. They want to be themselves, to be left alone, and to not have to fear for their safety. Total number of trans people who have committed sexual misconduct in a public restroom? You know this by now: 0. Number of Republican politicians? 3. Even ones with wide stances.
This bill in North Carolina is allegedly in response to Charlotte’s move to make bathroom access not a big deal, and it codifies transgender rights on this issue. That has the right-wing
morons lawmakers pointing fingers and saying Charlotte started it.
But that’s not true.
Charlotte had passed a bathroom bill that was discriminatory decades ago, something no other city in the state had done. What they did with the more recent bill was to eliminate that discrimination. Along the way they codified trans rights. And that’s a good thing, if the video floating around the internet of a woman being kicked out of a bathroom by police because she looked “too manly” is anything to go by. It needs to be codified so we don’t have idiotic and embarrassing situations like this.
The bill that the North Carolina legislature passed was done in an emergency session—their first in 35 years—and lawmakers allegedly had all of 5 minutes to review the bill before a vote. The Democrats walked out in protest. It passed unanimously.
That’s why, bluntly put, the NC governor is full of shit when he says he didn’t want this and neither do the people of the state. You started this fight, you called an historic session, so now you deal with the mess. Asshole.
I do also hear the occasional self-identifying feminist pointing out how this is a legitimate concern because of assaults. Assaults are a big deal—they just aren’t being committed by trans people. In every case it’s a man dressing as a woman to assault or record or photograph or something. Nothing in this bill protects from that. These acts are already illegal.
Ah, but you see, this bill doesn’t just deal with bathroom issues. It also essentially bars any protection from discrimination for the LGBT community. Oh, and it prohibits any minimum wage that’s higher than the state’s. In other words, the bathroom element is the one bogeyman they have left—and you can tell that by the conflation with pedophiles, which used to be reserved for gay rights issues—to rile up the social conservative base.
This matters. This is important to me. And it’s because we’re actually winning on a lot of equality fronts. That means we should expect some blowback. That’s what this is. What decent people need to do is call them on their rhetorical bullshit and logical fallacy parade.
I want to wear my sandals out and about. I’m actually concerned about being attacked. I’m also untenured faculty, and even though I work at a place and in a state that protects gender identity and expression, I know to pick my fights. I get only a small glimpse into what trans people deal with every day.
If you think discrimination against them isn’t a big deal, if you think that someone who outwardly looks completely female should go into the mens room because of a line on a birth certificate and not be in constant fear, then you’re either clueless or have no empathy.
Or you listen to the right-wing echo chamber. And you think this is somehow about the children. For that, I would reserve the same term I offered the governor of NC: asshole.