On Bathrooms and Projection

[Trigger warning for transphobia, body policing, gender policing, sexual violence.]

The great Molly Ivins once said (and I'm paraphrasing here, because I can't find the exact quote) that if you ever want to know what conservatives are doing, just listen to what they're accusing progressives of doing.

That was a keen insight about projection.

Whether it's accusing gays and feminists of undermining the sanctity of marriage, accusing gays of recruiting kids or shoving their sexuality in people's faces or aggressive sexuality, accusing feminists of being man-haters or unable to see past gender, accusing marginalized people of wanting special rights, accusing women-centric spaces of being dangerous for men, accusing progressives of trying to impose their views on everyone or rooting for foreign policy failures or hating America, or warbling about the War on Christmas, the liberal media, voter fraud, or any one of a thousand other grievances, time and time again, it's just conservatives assuming (wrongly) that progressive ideology makes people the ethically-challenged authoritarians that they are.

A thief always suspects someone is stealing from hir, after all.

One of the memes deeply associated with conservative (and fauxgressive) projection is the OH NOES BATHROOM PANIC! meme. You've heard this one before: Trans men and women must be marginalized from society, especially society's bathrooms, because of how they want to INVADE PUBLIC BATHROOMS AND RAPE PEOPLE. Or something. There are a bunch of variations on the same theme; just look for "man in a dress" and "what about the children?!" and some vague implication that trans women (in particular) just go through a lifetime of experiences ranging from Challenging to Sheer Hell for the explicit purpose of getting access to cis women in ladies' rooms, behind doors that magically don't let in cis men determined to do women harm. Or something.

Basically, all you need to know about this general argument is that it's stupid and cruel and has no rational basis. And that Phyllis Schlafly was using it to tank the ERA before my ancient ass was ever born. OH NOES BATHROOM PANIC! is so old it's got brontosaurus shit in the treads of its sensible shoes. Is what I'm saying.

It's a fantasy, a conservative fever-dream that keeps alarmists up at night clutching their pearls and praying to the Baby Jesus on behalf of victims of trans bathroom violence who don't exist. There is no endemic danger associated with trans people using public bathrooms. ENDA is not a slippery slope. Spoiler Alert: Trans people use public bathrooms already all the time. BOOGA BOOGA!

There are trans women and men busily living their lives in a cis-privileged world without lots of (most) cis people ever taking notice, and the ignorant fuckheads who engage in bathroom fearmongering have to pretend that isn't the case for any of their bigoted shit to make the slightest bit of sense. They're relying, of course, on the fact that the people upon whose ignorant and hateful fears they prey won't realize the mendacious turds who manipulate them know full fucking well that trans people already use public bathrooms.

They're also relying on the fact that those people will never be relieved of their ignorance and bigotry by trans people telling their stories, and by allies saying things like: I am well aware that there are trans women, some of whom might well have a penis, using the same public restrooms I do—Spoiler Alert: AND I DON'T FUCKING CARE—and anyone who's under the misapprehension that no trans women ever currently use women's bathrooms is a cloistered ignoramus who may well have been deliberately misled by a transphobic asshole with an agenda.

So, in case I haven't made myself abundantly clear: Trans women and men and cis women and men already share bathrooms. This is not a tragedy or cause for alarm. OH NOES BATHROOM PANIC! is unmitigated bullshit. The End.

Because trans people do use public bathrooms, occasionally someone who is at an early stage in transition and/or doesn't "pass" well will get harassed or detained. Like Tyjanae Moore, who was arrested last week after using the women's bathroom at a downtown Houston library.

Get her—thinking she's a WOMAN! (Spoiler Alert: She is.)

Everyone's all confused and alarmed, naturally. Something MUST be done! Why? Because OH NOES BATHROOM PANIC! of course. We must immediately Do Something because of the Mendacious Meme that we've invented to marginalize trans people for no good reason! Et cetera.

And what this is, is projection.

Trans women and men do not, as a rule, make it their business to harass, attack, or otherwise hurt cis women and men in public bathrooms. Or private bathrooms. Or any bathrooms at all, really.

On the other hand, there are not a few cis women and men who make it their bloody goddamn fucking business to harass, target, make a spectacle of, report trans women and men who are minding their own business in public bathrooms.

You want to know what transphobes are up to?

"We think trans people will hurt us in bathrooms!"

They're using bathroom panic to hurt trans people. Right from the projectioneer's mouth.

[H/T to Eastsidekate.]

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