Perhaps the very worst thing about the repeal of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is that voters feared imaginary sexual assault so much that they voted in favor of actual sexual assault. There’s basically no documented history of straight men pretending to be transgender so they can access womens’ bathrooms. There is, however, a long and savage history of sexual abuse of transgender people just for being transgender–and for using the restroom to which their chromosomal gender would assign them.
There are people I respect who believe this vote really was about restrooms, and a visceral response to a perceived loss of privacy. Clearly I am not one of those people.
I have a relative, a nasty closed-minded kind of guy–homophobic, misogynistic, and just generally lousy. A couple of years ago, he saw fit to apologize to me for any gay jokes that might have offended me. I suspect this was prompted by other relatives, and not by any inner guilt or empathy–by my best estimation, this individual isn’t capable of feeling such things.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I hope you know I was just kidding, and I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
I accepted the apology, surprised as I was to receive it, but I took the opportunity to deliver a little lecture. I explained that, as a man in my late 20’s (at the time) I was secure in my queer identity–certainly secure enough that the jokes and opinions of small-minded bigots didn’t hurt my feelings. But, I said, it wasn’t me he should be concerned about. Continue Reading