Calling Out Transphobia in the Queer Community
Right now, our trans brothers and sisters are in crisis. They’ve long been in economic, social, and political crisis, but as news of North Carolina’s HB2 bill spreads, it has brought trans issues to the forefront of our media crazed mindsets. Presumably, the gay community would fire back with as much ammunition as it launched toward gay marriage, but as it stands for now, I’m disheartened to see that overall, efforts have been perfunctory at best.
As a white cis-femme, I’ve written extensively about exploring my femme privilege, the idea that feminine presenting women have a certain privilege at the workplace, in public space, and especially the restroom. As I continue to explore this privilege and encourage others to do so, I’ve become even more aware of the struggle that trans women, transmen, and masculine of center women face during their most private of moments, while performing one of the most basic functions of their humanity: using the restroom.
So you can imagine my surprise when just recently, I found myself in an impassioned Facebook debate with another white femme lesbian on a post regarding a trans person’s rights to use the bathroom of their identity, rather than their birth certificate sex. She argued what many opposers to trans rights argue: that if we allow trans people to use the bathroom of their assigned sex, what stops pedophiles from entering girls’ bathrooms and abusing the law?
I’m sorry. WHAT? I was baffled; I was dumbfounded. How the hell did it come to this—to a member of the LGB community actually justifying transphobia?
Fallacious rationale is a cornerstone of this transphobic phenomenon. Justifying the oppression of an entire group of people by creating fear and speculation has long been the hallmark of the majority, but seeing people actually falling for it baffles me beyond belief. I can only assume that her identity as a future mother and as a white ciswoman superseded her queer identity.
This entire exchange once again forced me to uncover a sort of naivety with which I often see the world. I assumed a sort of automation in the queer community; that whether you’re a gay male, or a gay female, you would automatically stand on the side of liberty…that you would automatically take arms with transgender community members to tackle HB2 and other laws with the same fervor as you did with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and DOMA.
Now I’m waking up and realizing what I assume trans activists have been seeing all along: that we are no longer championing equality. Indeed, we have passed the buck once now that the law does not directly impact us.
As a member of the gay community, I simply cannot stand on the sidelines and expect trans people to be able to fight this fight by themselves. We must get in the game, and we cannot rest on our laurels until our trans brothers and sisters are also protected with the full measure of the law. I am of the opinion that we—as people who all operate in, around, or under the umbrella of queer—-must stand up for and stand beside and get behind our trans activists. Bringing awareness to these issues, writing our congressional representatives, signing petitions, joining demonstrations, and calling out transphobic comments in public and private will all help. They’re all things I’ve done and things I’m committed to do until that day comes when states like North Carolina repeal discriminatory laws like HB2, and our federal government makes it clear that trans people are protected under the federal discrimination laws. Until then, let’s do more.