Throwback Thursday: The Restroom Wars Pt. 1 and 2

In the run up to the 2016 elections, the Republican Party was flailing about for a culture war issue to drive their base voters to the polls. The Supreme Court had rendered the old reliable same sex marriage scaremongering obsolete with the previous summers Obergfell vs Hodges decision. Their bigoted gaze landed on an even more marginalized group than gay people who wanted to file taxes jointly, trans people who needed to pee. The Derby was ready to respond…

According to prominent experts, Everyone Poops. They also pee. Or need to adjust their makeup, or change a tampon or maxi pad, or wash their hands or change a diaper on a screaming baby while a toddler throws toilet paper everywhere. As a society we have traditionally understood that people don’t always have the luxury of doing the above things from the comfort of their own homes, thus is born the concept of the “public restroom”.
Also according to prominent experts, Transgender persons exist. And since trans folk are definitely a subset of everyone, we can assume therefore that they too need to poop, etc. In a just and civil society one would assume that public accommodations would be used in the least inconvenient fashion possible, and therefore in places where public restrooms are segregated by gender everyone would be least inconvenienced by allowing persons to use the restroom that syncs with their gender identity. Ladies in the ladies room, Gents in the gentleman’s room, no need to check whats in your pants because that would be really creepy.
The great state of North Carolina has decided to instead do this the hard way. This spring the Republican controlled legislature of North Carolina made history, becoming the first state to attempt to legally require persons to use the public restroom that matches the gender assigned at birth and thus on your birth certificate. Well actually the law in question does a hell of a lot more than that, it also overturns any existing anti-discrimination ordinances meant to protect LGBTQ citizens and bans any future such laws being enacted anywhere in the state. It also overturns any local minimum wage laws, because fuck poor people while we’re here I guess. Mississippi followed suit shortly thereafter, but  fewer people cared because its Mississippi.
There have been certain predictable reactions to this legislation. Prominent celebrities and entertainers, from Bruce Springsteen to Cirque du Soliel cancelled performances scheduled in the state. Great Britain issued a travel advisory, warning their LGBTQ citizens about the hazards of visiting US States with statutes of this kind. Target stores were quick to announce that their official company policy was to allow their customers and employees to use whichever restroom matched their gender identity. Conservative groups immediately called for a boycott of Target, at least until they need to pick up paper towels.  Irrespective of this chaos, conservative legislatures across the country are considering similar bills.
All of this leads us to today’s meme… Stop the Madness.  Parked in front of a door marked “Women” is a muscular young white male identified person, with his arms crossed and a menacing scowl directed at the viewer.

Click on over and read the whole thing if you could, every little bit of ad revenue goes too helping this dog learn to bark in Spanish.

It wasn’t just reactionary dickweeds screwing up on this issue either, which is why a Part 2, the NOT HELPING edition was necessary. This actually involved addressing two memes ostensibly on the side of the angels that unfortunately missed the mark a bit…

Then proceeds to show us eight people who look one sex but are actually the other! The implication being that laws like the one in North Carolina would seem to require that the dudely looking dudes in the top row go to the ladies room whilst the lovely ladies on the bottom row would have to use the gentlemen’s lavoratory, all because of what naughty bits they had when they burst purple and squealing out of their mommies tummies. The guy in the cowboy hat (first on the top left,) Michael Hughes, and the lady with the lipstick, Brae Carnes (bottom row #3) were among the first trans activists to post selfies like these on the internet, on Twitter at #WeJustNeedToPee, and spreading across the internet like wildfire.
They make a very good point at first, but the more I saw them the more certain elements of this campaign felt a little hinky. Look at that lineup again. Notice anything? Here, see if this helps, look at each image and think “would I suspect this individual of being trans if I didn’t already know? I know that’s a kind of gross way to think, we aren’t supposed to care about that over here in Social Justice Adventuring Party land. But put yourself in head of your average bigot, would any of those people really raise an eyebrow if they went into the restroom at Target, went into a stall to do their business and walk out? Would any of our potential bathroom vigilantes really bother any of these conventionally attractive people as they went to make a deposit in the porcelain bank?

We go on to examine how the focus on trans folks who so obviously “pass” aren’t really the best example of the problem. Not only because it leaves lots of trans folks who don’t fulfill cisgendered preconceptions of gender presentation out of the discussion, it also leaves a lot of gender nonconforming and nonbinary folks high and dry. For instance the story of this woman who was harassed at a Walmart bathroom because acute guardians of the precious female flesh assumed she was trans.

Then we look at variations on this meme…

I’ve seen a couple different variations on this meme, featuring conservative author and terrible excuse for a person Ann Coulter, claiming that she had been arrested in North Carolina for attempting to use the women’s restroom. This joke got enough traction that Snopes had to step in and debunk it, the image is from a fake news site I won’t link to because fake news sites are a plague on humanity.So is Ann Coulter, who’s best selling books have included  Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on TerrorismIf Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans and  Adios, America: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole.

And…

So as you can see, Ms Coulter is not one of our favorite people. In fact I’m fairly certain that under normal circumstances I would receive the news that Ann Coulter had been arrested with a certain amount of glee. But this isn’t real news and it isn’t a very good joke. In fact it is an incredibly harmful joke. It is intentionally misgendering someone because we don’t like them and that is exactly the kind of shit we excoriate sexist, misogynist and ant-trans trolls for all the time.
And this isn’t a new thing, Googleing “Ann Coulter is a Man” finds dozens of similar memes claiming that Ms. Coulter has an obvious Adam’s Apple, that she has “transvestite mascara” or other such nonsense. First of all that is all bullshit. Ms. Coulter has been a public figure since the early 90’s. There is zero evidence of any kind that she is anything but what she appears to be, a conventionally attractive cisgendered Caucasian woman of middle years with horrid taste in political heroes. And as we pointed out in the previous segment, people are terrible at this. Trust me you didn’t uncover a decades long conspiracy to conceal Ann Coulter’s secret underpants scandal by staring too long at a screencap fron CNN.
The fact of the matter is that this kind of misogynist insult is far to often given a pass  when the subject is someone we don’t like. Recently deceased professional wrestler Joanie Laurer, who performed as Chyna, the 9th Wonder of the World, often had this slur thrown at her by (surprise) uncouth wrestling fans. I hated it then and I hate it now. And attacking successful and powerful women for being mannish is something the assholes have been doing for time immemorial. There’s no excuse for it.
So for the record, if you are intentionally misgendering Ann Coulter to make your shitty joke you are not helping trans people. You are part of the problem. Stop it.

All of this comes back to my mind today because of a Facebook Brouhaha I had on David Futrelle’s sharing of his latest delve into TERF Reddit. Give Dave a well earned click as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s