Sorry, folks, but it’s soapbox time again, as I’m incensed by a worrying trend in bigotry in today’s world (well, principally America, but when they sneeze we catch a cold) — and it’s reached the point that one of my oldest friends seems to agree with it!
No, it’s not Donald Trump’s Islamophobia, since he’s reneging on that anyway and claiming it was “just a suggestion” (presumably in the same way that Tony Blair’s government once dismissed an election pledge they’d failed to fulfil as “just an aspiration”). However, it involves the same level of prejudice, or possibly brutal dismissal of “collateral damage”, and could end up punishing innocent people while completely ignoring the actual problem that it was trying to resolve… oh, you already guessed from the title that I was talking about the new wave of transphobia in America’s public restrooms? Well, let’s get on with it then…
Trump’s putative plan to prevent Muslims from coming into the United States “at least until we know what’s going on” is fundamentally stupid, but leaving aside the abhorrent notion that all Muslims are terrorists (or that the ones who aren’t are “no great loss” anyway), the question that needs to be asked is: how do you know who’s a Muslim? If you judge by people’s declared religion, you’ll only weed out the honest Muslims (because al-Qaeda and Daesh wouldn’t balk at covering up their religion if they’re on their way to martyrdom, would they?), and the only alternative is to ban “anyone who looks a bit Muslim-y”, which would likely include Hindus, Sikhs, and anyone else from the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent (possibly even the guy who plays Raj in The Big Bang Theory), even if they’re Christian or aetheist.
(This is, after all, the country that once banned The Artist Formerly Known As Cat Stevens because they apparently couldn’t tell the difference between one Yusuf Islam and another…)
Similarly, all the thugs who say they want to stand outside the female toilets and knock the teeth out of any “trans” people trying to go in: how do you know? Do you include anyone you even remotely suspect of being male, such as “butch lezzers” (perhaps thinking that they’re ugly and of no value to society anyway), or do you pull down people’s underwear to check their equipment? And if the latter, who are you to assume bad faith and say that anyone with a penis who tries to go into the ladies’ is clearly up to no good? Do you automatically assume anyone biologically male is a rapist of women and girls? Are you? If you’re not, why is “he”?
This is the side of the debate that prompts one of my old school friends to keep posting offensive images and “tooth fairy” jokes on Facebook (yes, I know, serious business, whatever). He’s a decent guy, a family man who served in the armed forces, and so I’m almost afraid to ask him whether he just wants to protect his daughters and doesn’t care if innocent people suffer, or if he thinks trans people are “freaks” anyway, so even if they weren’t going to do anything wrong, they still “deserve” to get beaten up… hey, maybe it’ll make ’em choose to be normal, right?
Anyway, why focus on trans people with male genitalia? What about people who are physically female going into the men’s room (which, after all, actually has naughty bits on show at the urinals instead of hidden in the stalls)? Are little boys not worth protecting… or, indeed, would they actually be lucky to get molested by women (as long as they’re hot)? And if you are worried about them, are you also looking at beating up gay men who have the temerity to walk into the gents’… or have you at least moved on from assuming “all gays are paedos”?
(Frankly, anyone who uses “think of the children!” as an argument in favour of oppression or mob rule has already lost the debate!)
Obviously this issue doesn’t affect me directly because I’m (full disclosure) a heterosexual cisgender male, but it still gets to me that the bigots seem to think all trans people are either straight men wearing drag so they can sneak into the ladies’ and commit rape, or else “wimps making a fuss about nothing” — i.e. that even the genuine trans people should just shut up and live with whatever gender they were born with, like their nonconformity is too much trouble for society to deal with. As you know, I’ve gone through depression and anxiety; the experience has left me truly sick of the way society tells guys like me to “stop moaning” and “man up”, and I hate to see the same thing, and the threat of even worse, happen to people who have done nothing more than “be different”.
Of course, all this could be resolved by doing away with the dreadful shared toilets most places have, and instead having unisex single rooms with doors that actually go all the way down to the floor — they have these in the Castle, and some restaurants I’ve been in. There is nothing remotely good or pleasant about most gents’ toilets I’ve been in (I loathe urinals and troughs due to the proximity of other blokes, and so use a stall even for “number one”), and the entire rooms are often filthy and smelly, especially in places that serve alcohol; I’m reliably informed that the ladies’ are also frequently disgusting (so much for the “fairer sex”). Maybe we should be threatening to beat people up for making a mess, rather than going into the “wrong” room?
It seems the bigots just want someone new to have a go at, now that they’re forbidden to discriminate against women, gays and black people (at least overtly). I can’t help but wonder if there’s any significance in the recent untimely deaths of both David Bowie and Prince, two excellent musicians whose gender and sexual identities were somewhat fluid: would they have spoken out in favour of tolerance for trans people, and did they thus need to be “put out of the way” lest they ruin the fun…?
(Ooh, have I created a new conspiracy theory?)