Tag Archives: “bathroom laws”

The Struggle to Defeat Transphobia: Our Challenge as Allies

Transphobia: A sense of disgust, hatred, dislike, or fear of people whose identity falls outside conventional societal gender norms.

I was prompted to write about transphobia by a close family member who identifies as transgender.  She – and I – are concerned about the uptick in violence towards anyone perceived as “the other”, especially those folks who do not conform to binary gender roles.

This is another result of the rise of right-wing extremists, unleashed by the GOP and their bigoted leadership (especially in the White House).

Aside #1: To those who insist, even now, that 45 has always been “pro-LGBTQ”, let me remind you that there have been many anti-LGBTQ policies and “recommendations” since 45’s been in office (for a list of just a few, see  “Trump promised to be LGBTQ-friendly.  His first year in office proved it was a giant con”, German Lopez, Vox website, 1/22/18).

There has been an 86% increase in anti-LGBTQ violence since 45 took office (“Report Shows Massive Increase in Anti-LGBTQ Violence Since Trump Took Office”, David Lorh, Huffington Post online, 1/22/18).  That includes 52 hate-based homicides.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that even 1 homicide is too much.

This is scary stuff.  From harassment by bigots online, to homicides committed against people for just being themselves, the increase in hateful words and murderous deeds should worry everyone who has a heart and a conscience.

Considering that conservative estimates are that 4.1% of Americans, or 10 million, identify – at least to Gallup and other pollsters – as LGBTQ, chances are that you probably know someone, or are related to someone, who is LGBTQ.  That includes 7.3% of Millennials, who report the largest numbers overall (“In U.S., More Adults Identifying as LGBTQ”, Gary J. Gates, Gallup website, 1/11/17).

Those are just the people who report that they are LGBTQ, however.  Especially in this current climate, the numbers could be higher.

My point is, even if you don’t care about this issue, this danger, as something likely to happen to you, it’s quite possible it will be important to someone you care about.  Someone you care about could be suffering from bullying, or worse.

All because of who they are.

How is that, in any way, acceptable to a society which (used to) pride itself on its tolerance and diversity?

And what can we, as allies, do about it?

Well, I’m happy you wondered that, because I ran across an article on the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) website called “Tips for Allies of Transgender People”.

It’s a short read, but it lays down the basics of how to support people and how not to be part of the problem.  Tips include: don’t out someone, don’t ask them what their “real name” is, don’t make assumptions about their sexual orientation (that’s different from gender identity), respect how they refer to themselves (this includes pronouns), and don’t try to show your support by giving them backhanded compliments (“You look just like a real woman”).

In terms of addressing broader issues such as bathroom access, civil rights, and anti-LGBTQ sentiment voiced by people in the general public, you can and should at the very least educate people.

For example, the idea that allowing transgender people to use public bathrooms will put children and women in danger of being victimized by sexual predators is a straight-up myth. Yet, time and time again I hear this “argument” bandied about by people who really ought to know better.

It’s important that we explain to people why this is not true.

A great article on this is called “Church More Dangerous for Kids Than Transgender Bathrooms”, on the Patheos website.  I like it because it provides a familiar reference point for many of the people who think this myth is true – church.  Many of the folks who spread this false information are religious.

Aside #2: Yeah, even the “hate the sin, love the sinner” types who think it’s ok to be transgender as long as it’s “not in their face” or in any way connected to being actively gay/lesbian.  Sigh.

The article contains statistical nuggets that you can use to explain the facts to people, such as:

1.  90% of child molesters target children of family members and friends, and the majority are men married to women (The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute).  Not strangers.

2.  From 1950-2013, over 17,000 victims made sexual abuse accusations against Catholic clerics (US Conference of Bishops Report, 2014).

3.  Lest the person you are trying to educate thinks this is all confined to the Catholic Church, a group of Protestants has launched a program called “Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment” (GRACE) that addresses this problem.  They state that there are, on average, 70 accusations of sexual abuse per week within Protestant churches.

Then you can finish your educational session by citing the statement from over 300 experts in sexual assault prevention that says giving transgender people the right to use the correct bathroom (as defined by them, not by you or anyone else) does not put women or children at risk for sexual assault (National Alliance to End Sexual Violence as quoted by the National Center for Transgender Equality website).

You can also do the many things progressives do to support any cause they care about, as well.  Things like writing your Congressperson, signing petitions, joining/supporting organizations, voting out bigots, and attending rallies and town halls.

And, also important – listening.  Not inserting your issues into the discussion.  Being supportive.

A good resource is the largest family and ally organization that helps LGBTQ people and those who love them: Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), founded in 1973.  They support LGBTQ causes and oppose bigotry and “conversion therapy”.  They have local chapters, and there is probably one near you.

Aside #3: Of course, there isn’t a chapter within 50 miles of where I live, but there is one in Memphis.  Another reason I really need to move.

Even if you don’t know any LGBTQ people, it’s worth checking out some of these websites I cited, just for your own political/personal development.  Chances are, you’ll run smack into a bigot one of these days, and it’s nice to have a well-rounded point of view to convey.

Because saying nothing is not an option.  Not when the bigots are so loud, so prevalent, and so sure that no one will challenge them.  We can’t let that slide.  We need to stand up for others.

Weird news of the week: Dumb place of the week award goes to Saginaw, Michigan, where a customer at a fitness center caused a panic when he showed the name of a WiFi network called “Remote Detonator” to a manager.  The manager evacuated the place and called the cops (“WiFi Network Called ‘Remote Detonator’ Prompts Gym Evacuation”, Associated Press via the ABC News website, 4/16/18).  Bonus weirdness: Former FBI Director James Comey meets Ghostface Killah and Method Man from Wu-Tang Clan backstage at “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (Spin website, scroll down to the bottom of the page).  It just seemed surreal to me.

Recommendation of the week: The websites I mentioned in this post are my recommendations for this week.  I haven’t done much this week except hobble around with my sore toe and curse the snow that won’t seem to go away!

Be good.  Be kind.  Be a good and kind ally.













Extremists Seek to Legalize Discrimination Against LGBT People

First of all, today’s big news was the death of Prince, a musician/singer/songwriter/record producer/actor from Minneapolis, MN.  He was 57.  The press is suggesting that maybe flu was the cause.  Such a shame, he was so talented.

So far this year, we music lovers have lost…

  1.  David Bowie, age 69
  2.  Glenn Frey, age 67
  3.  Paul Kantner, age 74
  4.  Maurice White, age 74
  5.  Frank Sinatra, Jr, age 72
  6.  Merle Haggard, age 79
  7.  Signe Anderson, age 74

This last singer was important to me (as was Kantner) because she was the first lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane, and recorded their first album with them (“Jefferson Airplane Takes Off”). It was released in 1966, when I was 10 and my sister Ginny was 13…Ginny bought it because she had heard the band in San Francisco with some friends.  Memories.


Ok, on to this week’s topic.

Like I stated last week, there are other news stories besides the US presidential election, though you wouldn’t really know it from watching the news here.

Aside #1:  Massive, killer earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador, for example (“Powerful Earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador”, EarthSky website, 4/17/16).  

A couple of stories about recently-passed laws have me shaking my head in disbelief, they are so stupid and hateful.  Again, we have right-wing religious fundamentalists trying to use “religious freedom” as an excuse to discriminate against people they don’t like.

One piece of legislation is HB2 in North Carolina, and the other is HB 1523 in Mississippi.  Both laws have clauses in them about who can and cannot use which bathrooms, amongst other things.

Conservatives, who are constantly screaming that they don’t want the government to tell them what to do, have no problem whatsoever with having the government tell everyone else what to do.

Here’s a summary of these 2 bills…

In Mississippi, there is a “religious liberty bill” that allows social workers, public employees, and businesses to deny services based on their ideas about marriage (only between a man and a woman), sex (only when married), and gender (determined by birth only).

So…someone can refuse to grant a marriage license, deny an adoption based on the parents being a same-sex couple, or even fire LGBT people.  The list of people this involves is endless, from florists and wedding planners to counselors and doctors.

I would love to move back to the area and put a rainbow-colored shingle out, declaring that LGBT people are most welcome for counseling services.  Along with pagans and everyone else.

Aside #2: Unfortunately, long ago the social work lobby succeeded in getting Mississippi’s grandfather clause on licensing tossed out – the one that enabled people with master’s degrees in psychology who do marriage and family therapy to get licensed just by applying. So, unless someone out there already has a counseling business and needs to hire a counselor (so I could work under their license), my whole “Mississippi equal opportunity counseling” dream is just that – a dream – for now.

(Btw, that’s a hint)

Anyway, this law also allows (I would say “encourages”) schools and businesses to “establish sex-specific policies regarding bathrooms and dress” (“Mississippi’s Senate Just Approved a Sweeping ‘Religious Liberty Bill’ that Critics Say is the Worst Yet for LGBT Rights”, Sarah Kaplan, Washington Post website, 3/31/16).

In N. Carolina, the law blocks local governments from passing anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT people.  This seemed to be in reaction to Charlotte, N. Carolina passing a law that prohibited discrimination against LGBT people.  Apparently one of the big objections to this anti-discrimination bill is the part stating that people can use the bathroom of whatever gender with which they identify.

In fact, a lot of what you hear on the news about either bill is this whole “bathroom controversy”.  It’s just so ridiculous, and I can’t understand what upsets people so much about it.

If someone is dressed like a woman, why would you want that person in the men’s room?  How would you even notice if she was born a man?

I don’t know about you, but when I use public bathrooms my 2 main concerns are 1. will there be an empty stall, and 2.  did the last dumbass decide she had to “avoid germs” by hovering over the toilet seat and pissing all over it?  That happens a lot in women’s bathrooms!

I couldn’t tell you who was in there if my life depended on it.  And I would think this is the norm for most people.  I don’t see why there is an issue.

And how would you enforce this?  Cameras??  Having a towel person, or whatever they’re called, that fancy restaurant bathrooms have?  Except they’d not hand you a towel, their whole job would be to make sure the “right gender” is using the bathroom.

That is unbelievably creepy.  Just imagine who would apply for a job like that.

I would think that this would be a voyeur’s dream job.  Ugh.

Though ridiculous, the main focus should be on the fact that these laws permit discrimination, even encourage it.  This is not ok.  It’s not “religious freedom” to discriminate against others.

The Old Testament, from which many of these “religious ideas” come, also has passages in it about witches and pagans (the most famous one is Exodus 22:18 – “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”).  Heck, I didn’t even have to look it up, it’s been thrown in my face so many times.

And, although the laws specifically refer to people in the LGBT community, make no mistake that, once these idiots get away with laws like these, others will be next.

Pagans, maybe Muslims, possibly women, atheists…the list goes on and on.  How would these businesses know?

Well, they can ask, of course.  Recall the last time you checked into an outpatient facility for medical tests, or the ER…didn’t they ask you what religion, if any, you prefer?  I’ve been asked this many times, in many states.

Aside #3: Presumably it’s to find out what religious person you want them to call in case you code and are dying in their facility – pretty morbid, if you ask me, and also stupid, as there really isn’t any other witch they could call, in my case.

It is also a routine question asked by therapists while filling out a client’s “psychosocial assessment” – something I have done thousands of times during intake.

With these laws, there’s nothing to prevent landlords and businesses and others from asking questions about sexual orientation, and if the right keeps pushing agendas like this, they will soon be able to ask religious questions as well.

So, if you have to argue the question with someone who says, “I’m not LGBT, why should I care?”, you can point out that they might be next, if they have something about them that offends some fundamentalist Christian.

I have to admit I’m shocked at the nerve these people had to pass laws like this.  Laws that are so basically unfair and bigoted.  But, in the current political climate, where the extreme right feels they can push their agendas hard, and often, it’s important that we push back.

Push back – hard and relentlessly.

Today’s weirdness comes from a site called Daily Grail – and this is also my recommendation for the week.  It’s a rather long, but fascinating, article on mushrooms and fairies, hallucinations, and certain works of literature (yes, “Alice in Wonderland” is mentioned).

The article is titled “Mushrooms in Wonderland”, by Mike Jay (Daily Grail website, 4/15/16).  Well worth a read.

Be good.  Be kind.  Push back.