Thursday, April 23, 2009

Women As A Tool To Justify Transphobia

I have been closely following the conversation about bathroom politics, as in state after state the trans community fights for the right to use the bathroom that most closely reflects the gender identity to which they publicly express. The right wing fundies have fought hard to create a panic about this issue often citing that it would increase incidents of sexual abuse in the bathrooms. 

New England is currently working on House Bill 1728 which bans discrimination based on gender identity or expression in the areas of employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and public education. In order to defeat this bill opponents have chosen once again to raise the supposed dreaded spectre of “men in womens bathrooms”.

For instance, at an April 8 lobby day sponsored by the anti-gay Massachusetts Family Institute at the State House, former Fall River school superintendent Joseph Martins addressed attendees and painted a nightmarish scenario in which school officials would be powerless to stop hordes of teenage boys from charging into the girls’ locker rooms to get a peek at their female classmates.
"It is difficult enough to control student behaviour, prevent discrimination of all students, and ensure the safety of all students without having to distinguish between truth and a lie of some student claiming, at will, a gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behaviour other than that assigned sex at birth, simply to gain access to the opposite-at-birth-sex locker-rooms, showers, or lavatory facilities," Martins told the crowd.

Shall we look at this little piece of nonsense.  It is absolutely ridiculous to deny transpeople the right to use the correct bathroom because cisgendered people in the above quote have been constructed as deviant.  They’re  afraid that some hopped on hormones teenage boy would use that as an excuse to violate the rights of women.  How nice and convenient.  Why is it that  people only seem to be concerned about stemming the violence against women when it involves curtailing the rights of another?  In this case womanhood is nothing more than a tool.

They need not worry, as with the amount of transphobia in this society the likely hood of a teenage boy owning a trans identity falsely is very slim.  A simple look at the ways in which those who are gender variant are treated socially is more than enough to discourage such behaviour. According to  the Bay window, in the twelve states in which this has become law falsely posing as a trans person has yet to happen.

"Due to this wording, any man can legally gain access to facilities reserved for women and girls simply by indicating, verbally or non-verbally, that he inwardly feels female at the moment. There is no way to distinguish between someone suffering from ’Gender Identity Disorder’ and a sexual predator looking to exploit this law. This is the dangerous reality of this bill," wrote MFI.

In almost every single rejection that I have seen, never have I witnessed a discussion of trans men in the men or womens bathrooms.  Where is their concern that if the trans community is not allowed to use the bathroom of the gender to which they identify and express, that this allows men in the womens bathroom and or change rooms?  Stop and think about this for a moment, by their thinking it is acceptable to have someone who not only identifies as male but in some cases but presents as male (beard and all), using the same facilities as women.  OOOH I think I get it, this is not about protecting women, this is about denying rights.

Women are constantly used as a tool to justify social wrongs.  The US government did not care about the brutality that women lived under when the Taliban ran Afghanistan but suddenly after the invasion it was about “protecting women”.   The presence of real men (read trans men) are ignored to protect us against trans women.  Can we just deal with the fact that people need to pee period.  A trans person in the bathroom of their gender identity is not a threat to anyone and this framing of women in need of protection is not only highly transphobic but sexist.  How long are we going to be subject to this wilting flower ideology? 

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