Transsexuals Not Covered In Hate Crimes Bill
April 6, 2009
More Brain Droppings From Jenni
April 15, 2009

My Dead Feminist Heart

Reading Nexy’s blog, I found out about a post over at Feministing and the boycott that’s being called by some in the transgender community. The title of the post is “Men in Women’s Bathrooms, Is Your State Next?

I don’t believe the post itself was bad. The original post author, Miriam, asked in the last paragraph:

“Here’s the thing that always gets me about the bathroom debate: The idea that laws governing a space which by nature is unpoliced, unregulated and fundamentally just an unlocked door with a sign on it gets so much airtime. Why is it that people feel a picture of a stick figure in a dress on a door keeps them safe? What does that say about our larger beliefs about gender?”

This is a very good question to ask. Unfortunately the question asked devolved into transphobic fear and loathing. For example, Gopher said:

“For the record I’m not against transpeople using whichever bathroom. But I dont know how long that awkward stage last until they pass as the opposite gender but its not worth it to change and affect everyones lives and make it available for men to enter womens spaces. Its vulnerable and opens up the door to misogynistic treatment. However if this specifies exclusively transgender people I’m not against it. I just don’t want people who identify as men using womens restrooms.”

Hell, I’m not so sure how long that awkward stage lasts. I don’t know if I’m personally still in it. What I do know is that I still have a bladder. What I do know is that I’ve already been cornered and physically harassed in a mens restroom. I know I’ve been fondled by a man who asked me if “those tits are real”. But the fear mongering continues:

“It sucks for transgender people who would just honestly feel more comfortable. Honestly though, even beyond that, it would be downright uncomfortable to know that a guy could be in there just to listen to the girls pee and get off from it. That would happen too, and probably much more frequently.”

The sad thing is that for someone that is so afraid of being assaulted or raped can’t see (or doesn’t think about) transgender people’s safety. These kind of laws have passed in 13 states and many towns with no rise in crime. But Zyfrom explains it plainly:

“One thing I have to say is noticeably absent from this discussion so far is any contribution from anyone who has identified themselves as a transsexual. well, let’s change that right now : *I* am a trans-woman. Many of the comments here have been very cis-privileged, and I just want to caution and remind everyone about that – cisgendered people trying to talk about how transgendered people should behave or what we want – it’s not necessarily inherently bigoted or wrong, I don’t think the topic should be taboo – but ultimately its about the same as men talking about women, or any other privileged group talking about any other non-privileged group, and it should at LEAST be kept in mind throughout the conversation.

My biggest complaint about the whole bathroom conversation is that I see it primarily (and almost exclusively) as not only a scare tactic but a distraction. There are no non-discrimination laws for transsexuals at the national level, and very few at any other level. In many places, attacking or even killing someone for being trans does not qualify as a hate crime. Failing to “pass” is all to often fatal. THESE are the issues that I want addressed, an I think most of the trans- community would agree with me.

People, particularly bigots and the FotF types, like to center this conversation around some idea that transsexuals are perverts who get off by peeing in the wrong bathroom, to which opponents often respond that it is not sexual and it can be uncomfortable for a trans person to be in the bathroom reserved for the opposite gender. well, even that, to me, seems secondary. My fear is if I go into a men’s bathroom wearing a dress (which I wouldn’t do anyway, regardless of the law) isn’t that I will feel ‘uncomfortable’ around a bunch of men (though I would), my primary fear is that some bigot will see me go in and think ‘hey, let’s round up the guys and some baseball bats and go beat up that tranny later’ and that nobody would care if it happened.

Yes. It is uncomfortable to be in the wrong bathroom, but of all the societal ills that plague the trans community right now, it is very low on my list of priorities. It is all to often used to take a conversation about hate crimes and discrimination and turn it into a freak-show about people who have to pee.

And as for the conversation about how well a person ‘passes’ : THAT is discriminatory on many levels that I think even much of the trans community doesn’t realize. The feminist discussion around a woman’s appearance tells us that if a woman has broad shoulders and hairy legs, and doesn’t feel like conforming to societies standards of beauty, well, you know, good for her. But add in a penis to that equation, and suddenly you are expected to always wear makeup and dresses and hide your cheekbones if you expect anyone to take you seriously. It’s so ingrained that many transwomen buy into it without thinking about it that much – but even if she isn’t ‘passing’, even if she isn’t in a dress or hasn’t shaved her legs (or any other part of her body) a trans woman is STILL a woman. There are very practical safety concerns around passing (which, I assure you, we do NOT need to be reminded of) but ‘passing’ or ‘not passing’ does NOT change someone’s identity.”

What bothers me most is that these are the same kinds of arguments that were going on three years ago. I stopped frequenting these blogs, but it wasn’t a boycott. I just don’t really dig going into places that I don’t feel valued, listened to, or accepted. I don’t even know that I’d call myself a feminist anymore. I do believe in equality, but these kind of posts make me feel like online feminism isn’t about equality but another hierarchy of power. I don’t see things changing by engaging in online discussions, so I won’t boycott. A boycott suggests that I’ll go back at some point. I doubt I ever will.

  • Victoria (thatfemmegrrl)

    This Feministing article is exactly why I identify as a transfeminist.

    http://eminism.org/faq/politics.html

    http://eminism.org/readings/pdf-rdg/tfmanifesto.pdf
    (there were some footer notes in a later, printed version of the manifesto, but I was unable to find it on-line.)

  • Victoria (thatfemmegrrl)

    This Feministing article is exactly why I identify as a transfeminist.

    http://eminism.org/faq/politics.html

    http://eminism.org/readings/pdf-rdg/tfmanifesto.pdf
    (there were some footer notes in a later, printed version of the manifesto, but I was unable to find it on-line.)

  • I propose we institute “National Piss In the Lobby Day.”

    For one full day, in states where you are not allowed to use a bathroom because of your gender history, and you are afraid to use the bathroom they allow you to use, I say we forget the bathrooms, and piss in the lobby.

    Sure we might be arrested – but we might be arrested for using the proper bathroom anyway, so what do we have to lose?

    I’ll bet this whole thing goes away after a few trans people relieve themselves in the Capitol Rotunda because no safe restroom facilities are provided for them.

    Oh, and one more thing to those that automatically think all transexuals are pedophiles:

    In my freshman year of college I took a course in logic – which should be taught in primary school” since it is lacking in so many adults.

    In that course, I learned that although the “transgendered” group and the “pedophile” group may both be included in the “deviant” group, that does not mean that “all transexuals are pedophiles” any more than it could be said that “all pedophiles are transexual.” In fact, there is only a microscopic overlap of the two.

    But from a myopic, cis-gendered, hetero-normative perspective, I can see how they could lump all deviants in together – along with women who want to vote, express an opinion, wear trousers, or want to control their reproductive choices.

    And you want Traditional Marriage? Would that be an arranged marriage at 13 with a dowry, legal status as your husbands property, and the requirement that you commit suicide promptly upon your husbands death?

    Are you sure that’s what you really want?

    All I really want is to live my life in peace and a safe place to pee.

  • I propose we institute “National Piss In the Lobby Day.”

    For one full day, in states where you are not allowed to use a bathroom because of your gender history, and you are afraid to use the bathroom they allow you to use, I say we forget the bathrooms, and piss in the lobby.

    Sure we might be arrested – but we might be arrested for using the proper bathroom anyway, so what do we have to lose?

    I’ll bet this whole thing goes away after a few trans people relieve themselves in the Capitol Rotunda because no safe restroom facilities are provided for them.

    Oh, and one more thing to those that automatically think all transexuals are pedophiles:

    In my freshman year of college I took a course in logic – which should be taught in primary school” since it is lacking in so many adults.

    In that course, I learned that although the “transgendered” group and the “pedophile” group may both be included in the “deviant” group, that does not mean that “all transexuals are pedophiles” any more than it could be said that “all pedophiles are transexual.” In fact, there is only a microscopic overlap of the two.

    But from a myopic, cis-gendered, hetero-normative perspective, I can see how they could lump all deviants in together – along with women who want to vote, express an opinion, wear trousers, or want to control their reproductive choices.

    And you want Traditional Marriage? Would that be an arranged marriage at 13 with a dowry, legal status as your husbands property, and the requirement that you commit suicide promptly upon your husbands death?

    Are you sure that’s what you really want?

    All I really want is to live my life in peace and a safe place to pee.

  • My problem is, I’m a Libra, and often end up partially agreeing / disagreeing with both sides. I get tired of the same old discussions, but I am also glad that it is in the media and there is an opening for change. It’s hard to see the big picture sometimes when you’re squeezing your legs together in a truckstop restaurant somewhere. I think the privileged are being challenged in North America and globally, in a way that has never happened before. They are fighting back, but the box is open, and we will prevail, period. I’m glad Zoe posted her comment. Thx for pointing this out.

  • My problem is, I’m a Libra, and often end up partially agreeing / disagreeing with both sides. I get tired of the same old discussions, but I am also glad that it is in the media and there is an opening for change. It’s hard to see the big picture sometimes when you’re squeezing your legs together in a truckstop restaurant somewhere. I think the privileged are being challenged in North America and globally, in a way that has never happened before. They are fighting back, but the box is open, and we will prevail, period. I’m glad Zoe posted her comment. Thx for pointing this out.

  • Grace

    I never read Feministing anymore either. It’s such a hodgepodge of contradictory and muddled, I’d even say hypocritical, thinking. That the blog’s owner, who wears micro miniskirts while insisting on the “right” of Muslim women to have the “choice” to wear burquas. When I read that, I couldn’t take her seriously anymore.

  • Grace

    I never read Feministing anymore either. It’s such a hodgepodge of contradictory and muddled, I’d even say hypocritical, thinking. That the blog’s owner, who wears micro miniskirts while insisting on the “right” of Muslim women to have the “choice” to wear burquas. When I read that, I couldn’t take her seriously anymore.

  • Lawrence

    I agree with a lot of what you’ve said here. I also find it interesting that I never EVER hear anyone bring up FTMs when they are talking about this issue. If MTFs have to use men’s bathrooms, then does that FTMs would have to use women’s? Then there really would be Men in the women’s bathroom. What’s stopping a bio man from telling the women in the bathroom he’s in that he’s really FTM so there’s nothing they can do to kick him out? Are they going to make him pull down his pants and show them? I doubt it. I’m also aware that this is a fairly far fetched situation, but then again so is a ‘transwoman’ that’s really a man that wants to hang out in women’s bathrooms. Plus, if a man really wants to sit in there and hear women pee… he just will. I feel like these posts are just a reminder that feminists are just as ignorant about the realities of transgendered people as the rest of the world…

  • Lawrence

    I agree with a lot of what you’ve said here. I also find it interesting that I never EVER hear anyone bring up FTMs when they are talking about this issue. If MTFs have to use men’s bathrooms, then does that FTMs would have to use women’s? Then there really would be Men in the women’s bathroom. What’s stopping a bio man from telling the women in the bathroom he’s in that he’s really FTM so there’s nothing they can do to kick him out? Are they going to make him pull down his pants and show them? I doubt it. I’m also aware that this is a fairly far fetched situation, but then again so is a ‘transwoman’ that’s really a man that wants to hang out in women’s bathrooms. Plus, if a man really wants to sit in there and hear women pee… he just will. I feel like these posts are just a reminder that feminists are just as ignorant about the realities of transgendered people as the rest of the world…