Douglas Whaley. Law professor, gay rights advocate, atheist, heart transplant recipient, actor, director, novelist, playwright, bridge player, husband, father, cat owner, storyteller. Much humor and, since the writer is a teacher, advice on many topics.
Today is Trans Day of Remembrance, reflecting on discrimination, including death, of trans individuals.
law has long banned discrimination on sex and gender, a move originally made to
protect the civil rights of African Americans with (a quirk of political history)
women thrown in as an afterthought.When
the question about the scope of the Civil Rights Act was addressed the courts originally
ruled that “sex” did not include “sexual orientation.” But in the last few years a number of federal courts
changed their minds about this and held that “sex” does extend protection to
gays.Other federal courts disagreed and
the matter is likely headed to the Supreme Court.The Obama administration sided with a broad
reading, protecting sexual orientation, and also issued regulations that “gender”
should be interpreted to protect transgender individuals who believe they were
born as the wrong gender and work to change that as they get older.
Barack Obama is no longer our president and the Trump administration, having
already decided that trans soldiers should be tossed out of the military, has
recently circulated a proposed change in federal regulations that would state “Sex
means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits
identifiable by or before birth,” adding that “the sex listed on a person’s
birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a
person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”For the New York Times article on all this
adopted this change would encourage the states to enact so-called “bathroom”
bills that would require transgendered folks to use restrooms of the gender
they were born with, even if they have so dramatically changed themselves that
they no longer conform in any way to that gender.
at this, George Godwyn, who is not himself transgendered, went on Facebook with
I posted a picture of Buck Angel, a transgender adult
film actor, in a few of large, sometimes huge, Trump groups. The picture showed
a very buff, ripped Mr. Angel from the waist up, shirtless, with a shaved head
and sporting a Fu Manchu mustache. He is an extremely masculine looking guy.
With the picture I included the question “This person has a vagina. Which
bathroom should they use?”
is a picture of Buck Angel:
I thought at least some of these
people will realize how silly it would be to want this man to use the ladies
room. How socially awkward and alarming that would be, in so many situations.
Putting aside how dangerous it would be for the man, simply on the basis of the
immediate, practical effect on the other diners in the given Applebee’s or
wherever it was happening.
The post got hundreds of comments,
finally thousands. Immediately. The Trump supporters had a very clear answer
and they were adamant about it. Almost no one answered with “the men’s room”. A few
said things like “if they’ve got a vagina, they use a woman’s room, if they
have a penis, they use the men’s room.” But the majority of the of the
commenters had an answer I hadn’t considered at all. These people had worked
out a very simple solution to the problem of transgender people and the norms
revolving public restrooms.
They wanted transgender people to
They were quite explicit about it,
very blunt. “They should die.” That simple. That concise. “They should die.”
Let me be entirely clear about this
– they knew what they were saying, they knew exactly what they wanted. They
didn't want a trans man in the men's room and they didn't want a trans man in
the woman's room. They wanted the trans man to be dead.
are in fact murdered with horrifying frequency, particularly male to females,
and these crimes often go unsolved or result in ridiculously small punishments meted
out by judges or juries who have little regard for the deceased victims.Consider that current statistics indicate
that 1.4 million people in the United States are transgender.Should their lives be lesser?
have quite a history with the gay rights movement in Ohio, being one of the founders
of Stonewall Columbus, the leading gay group in Columbus (established in
1981).See the Related Posts below for
many of my discussions about the battles to allow to have gays have the same rights as
everyone else—no more, no less.
the gay rights movement was finally getting major traction in the 1970s and 80s
one of the first questions was whether to include bisexuals in the categories of people to be protected.Believe it or not, some controversy
existed as to this.Many studies showed that
there were actually very few true gay male bisexuals. Most men claiming that title ultimately
turned out to be on a path to coming out as a gay man.But the evidence was strong that a goodly
number of women really were bisexual in orientation.And, as someone pointed out to me at the
time, if these folks will join our cause if we let them , why not swell the gathering chorus demanding fair treatment for sexual
it makes sense to say that straight people’s misunderstanding of what is going
on is not grounds for treating sexual minorities—all of them—as subject to
different rules in a civilized world.Sexual
minorities are discriminated against because of an inborn characteristic having
to do with sex that is different than problems encountered by the large majority of people. Plus transexuals have the same acceptance problem as homosexuals.All the LGBT lettered babies are born into a straight-dominated
world that doesn’t understand them, a world that thinks what they want to do
sexually is a choice (and a bad, even evil one at that), and condemns them for
making that choice.The answer to this
mess is the same too:educate the
populace to understand that LGBT individuals should be judged on merits having
to do with matters other than sexual orientation or gender identification.Let's use Martin Luther King Jr.'s standard: the content of their character.
the scientific and sociological evidence supports the biological assertions in
the above paragraph.Gays can’t choose
who to be sexually attracted to; trans people are born knowing what sex they
are even when it does not match the body they inhabit.No one is making this up, and the social
problems caused by misunderstanding these issues must be solved in favor of
treating all people equally.Give
everybody a chance to make the most out of the life they have been handed.
you doubt homosexuality is a natural biological phenomenon, look at the scientific
evidence.Even in the animal kingdom it’s
routine.In the 1999 book “”Biological
Exuberance” Dr. Bruce Bademihl, in incredible detail, explores the more than
450 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects worldwide who engage in
are largely winning the public acceptance battle, but---damn it---the trans
community is in trouble.The chief
reason is that the nature of transgender problems sounds too bizarre and foreign for most people.But if you are a mother
whose three year old son tells you that “I’m really a girl, Mama,” you’ll have
to confront a very different future than you had planned.How parents (and society) react to this
statement makes all the difference.Forcing the child to behave and adopt the trappings of the birth sex—the
usual choice—does not work, any more than forcing gay people to marry the
opposite sex does.As soon as the trans
child figures out what is really going on and how to escape, he or she sets out to
do what can be done to become the person he or she knows is the true center of
struggles are huge, scary, and very hard for people who are born into the
“right” sex (“cisgender” people: those happy with the sex assigned at birth,
i.e., most of us) to understand.Or, even
understanding, then empathizing with.Want to see what it would be like?Test your empathy for the dilemma?Hmm.Try this: Watch at least one
episode of the FX show entitled “Pose,” which tells the incredible story of the
trans community in 1980s NYC (eight
terrific episodes so far), acted mostly by trans actors themselves.Season One is available on cable’s FX
or on Amazon Prime.If you watch the
first episode you will watch them all.
Godwyn’s Reddit post on how astounded he was at the hatred he encountered by
supporting transgendered people only emboldened him further.Here is his conclusion:
I don’t care who you are, I don’t care where you are
in the political spectrum, I don’t care how fucking liberal or leftist you are,
I don’t care how feminist you are, if you don’t support trans-rights, you are
not on my fucking side. I don’t give a fuck about your bio–essentialist
arguments, I don’t give a fuck about your history with men, I don't care about
your pissing eight year old or your bigot grandmother. Frankly, I don’t give a
fuck about your traumatic sexual assault if it means you’re going to take it
out on some fucking teenage girl who doesn’t want to have to use a bathroom
with a bunch of frat boys and have the same fucking thing happen to her.
my own final thought.We are in a world
in which decisions are being made about who is worth protecting.Me?I choose