Missing the People – A Protest in Support of my Trans- Friends
I am not a trans- person. I am a heterosexually identified person who presents to the world as a woman. My birth certificate inticates that I am female. Wierdly it also qualifies my infant form as “leg,” which I have come to understand as designation required by Jefferson County TX to indicate legitimacy status.
Another thing I am is a person who has friends. All along the way these friendships have proven to be vital and precious to the quality of my life.
I have long had dear friends who are trans. One of them is the man in the center of the photo above, Eric Plemons, Ph.D. I’ve known Eric since he was a late teen. I knew him during his transition. He came to my graduate classes on the implications of diversity for social science professionals – like educators, counselors, psychologists, public administrators. The students were accoustomed to my having “company,” but were always confused when, well into the term, a young middle class white man showed up as such a visitor. Then they heard Eric’s story.
Eric is a lifetime friend. So are Amy and Dani. Friends I know I can turn to for certain and generous support whether in joy or in struggle.
Like all of my friends, these three dear ones live their lives in bodies. In contrast with the majority though, Eric, Amy and Dani have birth certificates that indicate birth sex assignments that are, by cultural definition, different from the way they present and identify in the world. This is not a point of value, it is only a point of fact.
Another fact. Bodies require food and water to survive, and so must produce and discard waste.
And, while horrific things can happen in bathrooms it is vital to check the facts. Check how there is no recorded incidence of a trans- person being a perpetrator of such an assault. Not one. Check that alongside this is the gruesome and inexcusable fact that 63% of all trans- people experience sexual assault at the hands of non-transexuals.
Then there’s the unavoidable fact that as a result of the panic over bathroom useage, real people with real and dignified lives, are being ignored – missed – erased.
This morning, my friend Eric, an exquisite scholar in medical anthropology, a married man, a dad – put words on this fact in a facebook post. He gave me permission to repost here:
“I know that this trans- bathroom ‘controversy’ is not about me. I’ve moved easily through sex segregated spaces for a long time—somehow managing to resist what many seem to think is my essential desire to commit sexual assault. I know that the imagined and feared body behind all of this foot-stomping and hand-wringing is the vilified body of the trans- woman deemed too suspiciously masculine to be acceptable, to be possible. It’s not being a trans- person that is at issue, of course, it is looking like one, according to whoever is looking and what they’re looking for. Still, even though by virtue of time/place/privilege I am not the subject of these efforts at expulsion and shaming, this is absolutely about me. While politicians and their supporters cry out to “protect the children!” from me, I am busy at home protecting my daughter from hearing over and over again that her dad and his friends are monsters. I am trying to calmly, evenly, and graciously speak to her about our steadfast values of fairness, kindness, and justice while others look at me and shout breathlessly about duplicity, predation, and fear. Damn, if it is not exhausting to have my existence—and my temerity to live in a body—equated to depravity. And this isn’t even about me.”
If you don’t know much about trans- people – and even if you do – check out this Devotion Project video on Eric and Anne’s family. Please take this seriously. Do not miss the people.
And, if you are concerned about bathroom safety, teach children to respect themselves and each other. Live your life with respect for bodies, minds and spirits and expect that respect from your friends, family and neighbors.
And on this bathroom argument … STOP IT!