Like most people who managed to live through 2016, Texas has had an exceptionally, embarrassingly terrible year. Whether it be placing archaic restrictions on abortion procedures and women’s healthcare in general or blatantly ignoring presidential mandates meant to protect transgender students, Texas has been doing the most when it comes to mistreating already marginalized peoples. Unfortunately, with a Texas legislative session on the horizon and our state red as ever, 2017 is already looking like it’s gearing up for the next political trainwreck.
This brings me to Senate Bill 6, also known as the Privacy Protection Act, a bill being paraded around by conservative Texas officials, in particular our Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick who considers the bill a priority, under the guise of protecting (cisgender) women from the invisible trans feminine predators lurking bathrooms and private women’s spaces to ravage and molest unsuspecting (cisgender) women and girls.
According to the Austin-American Statesman, Lt. Gov. Patrick said in a recent press conference that SB6 would “protect businesses from government interference” by overturning local government non-discrimination ordinances that offer protections for transgender people. The Statesman went on to quote the bill’s author Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham who claimed that the bill would also require public schools and universities, along with government buildings, to designate bathroom use by people “according to their biological sex.”
To date, there have been no reported cases of transgender people assaulting anyone in public bathrooms in Texas, nor am I familiar with any cases like that occurring in any other state, and I’m sure if there were such cases, proponents of SB6 would be thrilled to have any sort of ammunition to use against the trans community, not that they need it to create such discriminatory legislation.
Conversely, there are numerous cases of transgender individuals experiencing assault, harassment and discrimination in most public spaces, notably in those that are segregated by gender like public bathrooms and locker rooms. With that in mind and also considering that the number of trans people murdered annually is at an all time high, it’s more appropriate to say that cisgender people are a threat to us, the trans community, not the other way around.
All of this transphobia and transmisogynistic rhetoric is fueled by the fallacies that trans people aren’t who we say we are and that a binary system of imagining and enforcing gender is absolute. Both ideas are incredibly far from the truth, and yet they’ve managed to dominate the mainstream, influencing policy-makers and voters alike. But what lies beneath all of this fear-mongering and hatred towards trans people, specifically towards trans women? If you ask me, it’s a whole lot of insecurity, ignorance and an inability to accept change.
So let’s tackle and unpack some of this bullshit, shall we?
I’ve noticed that the folks who speak out the strongest against trans people have a “two and only two” system in mind when it comes to gender. They believe wholeheartedly that gender is immutable and exists in physiology rather than in the mind. To them, any question to that system is deviancy and should be sought out and eliminated with the swiftness of a thousand… really swift things.
However, when looking at the most recent studies on gender, we find that sex characteristics, such as chromosomes and genitalia, are not indicative of gender and are in fact gendered because of proponents of biological essentialism, a framework which purports that gender is informed solely by our physical nature. In other words, to the average anti-trans legislator, girls have innies and boys have outties because that’s the way it is and always has been and always will be.
But having XX chromosomes does not a woman make. There is nothing inherently “woman” about a vagina nor is there anything inherently “man” about a penis. We as a society have long agreed to gender these terms that majorly serve to divide us into two groups: those who can impregnate and those who can be impregnated. But we as a species have evolved beyond that. There is such a vibrant spectrum of gender and gender expression to cultivate in this world, and there is no viable reason to maintain the “two and only two” system other than to maintain the cisheteronormative status quo, which is exactly what conservative lawmakers are setting out to do.
To transphobes, the existence of transgender individuals is an anomaly, an attack on all that is normalized, and they’ve no other approach but to demonize us as perverts trying to destroy the fabric of society, one public women’s restroom at a time. In reality, whenever a trans person uses a public restroom, we are doing one of four things: peeing, pooping, washing our hands or checking ourselves in the mirror with the possibility of a fire selfie session if the bathroom has good lighting. Imagine the horror when one of these anti-trans legislators realizes that trans bodies function like every else’s bodies do.
If this SB6 passes and goes into effect, I’ll have to pee, poop, wash my hands and look at myself in the mirror in a men’s bathroom, lest I violate the law of the land. But I haven’t been in a men’s bathroom in years, and should I enter one, I know I’ll be met with confusion, harassment and possibly an altercation of some sort. That is because I am not a man nor do I desire to be treated like one regardless of what’s under my skirt.
I refuse to place myself in danger because it makes some fools at the Texas capital uncomfortable that girls like me exist publicly. I will not be limited to a sexual fantasy or some kind of untouchable position in society because I am a transgender woman. I will NOT use men’s public facilities in any capacity, law or no law, because it is insulting to me and trans women everywhere to suggest I should.
We are not predators, we are valid functioning members of this society trying to do our business in peace, and it’s only a waste of time and effort and tax dollars to promote and push a bill like SB6 into law.