Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"The Ewww Factor"




        The email from yesterday's piece on transgender individuals and bathrooms can be imagined: frightened, ignorant people, prattling on about "God's law," as if any self-respecting deity from any defendable theology would not strike them dead on general principles. just for the offense of uttering His name as a hallelujah chorus for whatever uninformed nonsense they seem determined to uphold. They don't merit reading.
     But I did get one email from a transgender lawyer that included the email she sent me in November, when last I addressed this issue. I re-read it, and thought, offering as it does something too little heard in all this— direct testimony from the people most affected—it would be of interest to you.


Hi Neil,

    I read your column on the transgender controversy at District 211. I found it thought-provoking, as most of your columns are. I did want to share a few thoughts of my own with you.
     One of the difficult things about growing up transgender is what I call the "ewww" factor. Growing up as a boy who acted like a girl caused people in my life, including classmates, to act towards me as though I were "ewwwy". Trans kids are often shunned as "different". Because human beings are social animals, this shunning is very painful and difficult. When the government, itself, however, takes the position that certain kids have to be treated differently from everybody else, the results for those kids are devastating. While I understand that discrimination against black people is different from discrimination against transgender people, I am sure that I do not need to remind you that one of the bases of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education was a cultural/social study about how black children felt about race, a study that involved children picking out dolls of different races in response to certain questions. It is simply not good or right for the government to tell certain children that they are different from other children and cannot be allowed to join with them as equals.
     Your column quotes Cates ["Inside the Girls' Locker Room," Nov. 5, 2015], the Superintendent of the district as saying, "Measures of privacy allow developing teenagers to choose for themselves whether or not to use privacy areas . . . safeguarding matters for transgender teens we believe will be helpful to students in our locker room." But, of course, Cates is not allowing transgender teens to choose for themselves whether or not to use privacy areas--he is requiring them to use privacy areas and allowing cis-gender kids to "choose for themselves".
     Some girls are born with penises. Some boys are born with vaginas. It is high time we as a society learn to accept that fact. Allowing trans girls into the girls locker room on the same basis as other girls, and allowing trans boys into the boys locker room on the same basis as other boys, does not pose a threat to anybody. And if, as Cates says, the district will allow students to choose for themselves whether to use privacy areas, cis-gender kids who have some (I think irrational) issues with trans kids can themselves use the privacy areas.
     You say that the "fervent desire [of trans girls] to stride easily into the girls' locker room and be welcomed as one of the gang is still, at this cultural moment, constrained if they also possess a penis." I understand that locker room use is different from bathroom use. But for over a year I used women's bathrooms in courthouses all over the Chicago metropolitan area while I still had a penis. No one was embarrassed, inconvenienced, bothered, or hurt. Transgender people are required to live 24/7 as the gender to which they are transitioning for certain periods of time before they can access certain types of transition health care
     I think you could have taken a bolder stand with your column.
     Yours very truly,
     Joanie Rae Wimmer
     Attorney at Law
     Downers Grove, Illinois 


13 comments:

  1. the click here to continue reading feature took me to the ST web sit and then would not let me scroll down and read the article no matter what i did. i understand they pay you. but i think only because we read you. so why won't they let me? bout done with this crap

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You must be reacting to something else, because these links go easily back to the blog. File under, "Most people who complain are themselves wrong."

      Delete
  2. Can we have an end to this "cis-gender" crap!
    The correct word is "normal"!
    If you know you're a female trapped in a male body, I don't care, or vice-versa.
    Be who ever you want to be, but don't invent new words to describe "NORMAL"!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Payback is a bitch, huh Clark? Sorry, but the untermenschen are crowding into the Normal Tent. I understand you're uncomfortable—easier to have them shivering outside—but there's a new normal now. Sorry to be the one to tell you.

      Delete
    2. I don't care where they are. If you look like a man, use the men's room. If you look like a woman, use the women's room. What's beneath your clothing is irrelevant to me.
      Use whatever toilet you feel most comfortable in, but enough with bizarre new words that are meaningless & that I must look them up to know what the fuck they're talking about!
      Remember, Dennis Hastert was molesting boys in the boy's room, the one you would expect him to be in!

      Delete
    3. Then we're on the same page. I agree that "cis-gender" is an ugly word, but it was cooked up for that purpose: to give us blissfully "normal" folk an ugly appellation to chew on. Still, I imagine we're stuck with it now. I prefer "straight" or, in a pinch, Dan Savage's "vanilla."

      Delete
    4. Is it right to insult those who are now forced to accept what they couldn't socially or religiously in the past? Yes, they're trained bigots, but should we label them otherwise? Aren't we repeating what gays and transgender people have suffered from for decades, stigmatization? The goal is to unify, treat everyone the same, not to come up with new labels like cis-gender. As for "normal" it's how you view yourself, not how others protect their own identities.

      Delete
    5. BTW, the above comment was mine.

      Delete
    6. I'm not quite following you. Gays etc. were ostracized for who they were, bigots are ostracized -- a little, at times -- because of what they say and do. There's a big difference. I don't support transgender people because I think they're wonderful; I support them because I realize it isn't my right to pass judgment on them.

      Delete
  3. What was Joan's name before,if one may ask? John?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One might ask, but not me. I have no idea, and can't see caring.

      Delete
  4. Just curious, nothing wrong with that.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting. As soon as I vet your remarks, they'll be posted, assuming they aren't, you know, mean and crazy.