Friday, May 13, 2016

Oh My God, Tear This Guy Apart

So, you might have heard -- yesterday Obama issued a directive ordering US public schools to allow students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.

The Far-Right Conservatives promptly lost their nut.

On my FB page, students I respect, who are intelligent and well-read, good-hearted, but who are conservative Christians, are likewise losing it over this.  Apparently respecting the rights of trans children, well, it's just a step too far.

The arguments being made by these students are the same arguments being made on these far-right blogs, so it's clear the talking points are disseminating through the religious/conservative community.

(1) There aren't very many trans people, so their rights aren't that important.

(2) Letting trans kids use the bathrooms that match their gender identity puts heteronormative kids at risk.

(3) Government overreach.

(4) Violation of the rights of Christians.

None of these arguments holds water, obviously:

(1) Let us grant that the number of trans children / people is relatively small in relation to the number of non-trans (or cisgendered) people. How does this matter? We are all American citizens. Everyone's rights are protected equally under the law. The fact that there are only a few trans kids in a school, or even one, doesn't mean those kids don't have rights, and don't deserve to have their rights protected. 

(Note, by the way, that this is *exactly* the same argument that was made about disabled people. There aren't very many of them, why should we build all those ramps? Why re-arrange our entire society, build special doors, and parking lots, just for less than, what is it 2% of the population? This is the same argument being made about trans people -- why should we normal people have to change our perfectly functioning society just for you dysfunctional people, who apparently don't deserve rights because there aren't very many of you? It's a hateful, shameful argument, and the people who are making it should be ashamed of themselves.)

(2) No, recognizing and respecting the rights of trans people does not put the rights of cispeople at risk. Absolutely no evidence supports this, and there are no incidences of trans people assaulting cisgendered kids. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is a scare tactic, and also a shameful one.

(3) This is not government overreach. Protecting the rights of citizens is the job of the government. It's right there in the Constitution. If so many local and state governments weren't doing their best to abrogate the rights of these citizens, Federal intervention would not be necessary.

(4) These are public schools. They're receiving state and federal dollars. A religious argument does not apply. We are a civil society, not a religious society. If you want to to run your school by religious laws, start a religious school, and don't take any state or federal funding.

A moment of thought is all it takes to rebut these arguments -- believe me, all I spent was a moment on any of them -- so you have to know that these arguments aren't serious: aren't at the root of the objections being made to Obama's directive.

So what is at the root of the objections?

Two things, I believe:

(1) The hatred and fear of (some) people toward trans people.  Transphobia is still very strong in this country.  Hell, homophobia is still strong, though it's on the wane.  Have a look at Rod Dreher's site lately.  The man has seriously gone over the edge.  That's not a rational reaction to LGBT people gaining equal rights. That's a phobia.  

(2) The real belief, instilled by 40 years of Conservative talk radio/hate radio, that government is evil, and that the Federal government especially is evil.  Therefore, anything the Federal government does must be evil. That Obama is doing it makes it especially evil, given that he's both black and a Democrat. (Here in the South, it's taught as a given that Democrats are dirty inside.)

And finally, obviously, ignorance. Many of my students, as I noted at the start, are intelligent; they're the good sort of Christian -- by which I mean they practice the Jesus sort, the sort where you help your neighbor, not hate your neighbor; they're well-read in general. But they've also been raised and steeped in Southern culture, which, well, it has problems with sex and with the Other in general.

I have faith, though.  The South, ten years ago, felt the same way about gay people that they now feel about trans people.  We can learn.  I've seen it happen.

ETA: See here for a Progressive post on Trans people and bathrooms, from Historian. Ah, what a contrast! It's a delight.


Unknown said...

Agreed! Also, on #1, if there aren't that many trans people, what's the problem? A friend pointed out that locker rooms, not bathrooms, in public schools could cause more of an issue. Maybe it's time to change locker rooms for everyone. No one likes exposing themselves to others' view and judgment during puberty. How about we redesign locker rooms to meet ALL students developmental need for privacy and dignity. Problem solved.

delagar said...

That sounds like an acceptable solution to me. I hated the giant showers / locker rooms when I was 14; I hated having to shower around other people. Didn't matter to me one bit that they were all girls like me.

Also, all this hoo-raw -- some of the students are going to be L and G in those boys and girls locker rooms and bathrooms. How come that's not driving these conservative/religious parents into hysteria? Why aren't they worried about Gay Brian hitting on their little Bobby in the locker room? (I exclude Rod Dreher, because he *is* freaking out over just that point. Poor Rod.)

CharleyCarp said...

The objection that Dreher likes to articulate, and I suppose others as well, is that it's not really about these people at all, but about the nature of reality. If we decide that things that are, in his worldview, firmly fixed are actually mutable, there where does it end.

This was the objection he clung to with gay marriage: if we use the word marriage to describe this thing, then who knows what marriage means. We can't just go around changing the meanings of words. (That and that the worst consequence of legalizing gay marriage is that people who cling to the old meanings of words will be called bigots.)

delagar said...

OMG, the bigot thing.

If I hear ONE MORE religious conservative say, "But when we speak out as Christians we get called bigots!" I'ma hurt someone.

Because yeah, what a terrible fate. You got called a bigot. Try having your rights abrogated. Try having your life threatened. Try getting beat up for being in the "wrong" bathroom. Try getting fired (which is still legal in a majority of our states) for performing your gender wrong. Try being called names non-stop from the time you're, like, *three*.

Try having your entire existence be fair game for everyone to mock, judge, and attack.

delagar said...

Oh, and Rod Dreher and his "reality is real" schtick. From a guy who believes in ghosts and bleeding statues, that's adorable.