Planet Fitness and Cis Tears

CN: transantagonism, discussion of hypothetical sexual assault/rape10464169_10201853698937124_3923966816234564280_n

The internet has been abuzz over this thing that happened:

[…] a Planet Fitness gym in Midland, Michigan revoked the membership of a woman who complained that the trans woman she was sharing a locker room with looked too much like a man.

Of course, this event has stirred up a bunch of conversation around whether trans people (often trans women) should have access to certain gendered spaces, namely bathrooms and locker rooms. Trans people and allies are basically of the opinion that it’s no big deal to let people pick the bathroom that’s appropriate for them and cis people need to shut the hell up about it. The opposition centers around how it can make (cis) women uncomfortable, and how there’s a chance that (cis) men could dress as women any time they wanted to gain access to these spaces and maybe attack the cis women.

It occurred to me recently that if a cis dude wanted to dress as a woman to enter a gendered restroom, he would have to a) pack the clothes and change into them right before entering the bathroom, risking detection by anyone paying attention, or b) wear the clothes out in public on the way to his dirty deed of peeking or whatever. (Which–if peeking is what you’re worried about–would mean that any cis women attracted to women would also not be allowed in the women’s room. Just saying.)

Does anyone realize that cis men would have to be willing to put themselves in the position of a trans woman in order to accomplish this particular act of subterfuge? If they walked around dressed as women but still visibly male, they would literally be putting themselves at risk for the kind of violence that trans women face, just for the sake of gaining access to a women’s room. They would also be even more likely to be stopped before entering the restroom, or to have someone contact management about their presence since they wouldn’t have been doing any of the regular feminizing routines that many trans women maintain.

It also occurs to me to mention that, though I’m not a criminal psychologist, I suspect the type of guy who would attack women in a public restroom would probably just walk in and do it without the preamble of dressing as a woman. And claiming to be a trans woman isn’t going to nullify those sexual assault charges anyway.

On that thought, there are trans women who rape people. There are also cis women who rape people. Making public facilities accessible to trans people isn’t going to generate rapists where there weren’t any, no matter what their gender is. Not to mention that most rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows personally, not random strangers in bathrooms.

Trans women are at risk for violence just like cis women are at risk, let’s not forget. Preventing trans women from using women’s restrooms is going to force them to go into men’s rooms, where they will be at greater risk of harassment or violence. I don’t mean to diminish the fact that violence against cis women from cis men is a huge problem, but cis men are not trans women, and taking away trans people’s access to certain gendered facilities isn’t going to stop or even deter that violence. It’s just discriminatory and othering, and is going to put more trans people at risk of harassment and possibly arrest since so many places are trying to codify laws restricting restroom use.

Bringing this back around to the Planet Fitness thing, the cis woman who complained did so because she thought there was a man in the locker room. The trans woman was reportedly wearing leggings and a baggie t-shirt, but she acknowledges that her body appears masculine from behind. Although, she has breasts and was carrying a purse… Point being, I’ve seen people arguing “But how can we tell if they’re trans and not just a dude in the ladies’ room if they aren’t wearing hyperfeminine clothing and haven’t been taking hormones?” To that I say, fuck you. Hormones cost money, and so do those feminizing routines I mentioned earlier. Let’s not pretend that standards of attractiveness aren’t being used to gatekeep trans women from accessing women’s spaces.

And to anyone who thinks that Planet Fitness responded too strongly by revoking the cis woman’s membership, I give you this:

She returned to the gym Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday “to get the word out” to other women that they “let men in the women’s locker room,” she said.

“Every day I said ‘just so you know, there’s a man they allow in this locker room and they don’t tell you that when you sign up,’ ” she said.

And also this:

Cormier said she then got a call from Planet Fitness’ corporate office telling her that she was violating their “no judgement” policy. She says they asked if she was going to stop talking to other women in the locker room and she said she would not.

Cormier said the representative told her she was no longer welcome at the gym.

This cis woman was aggressively returning to the gym specifically to ‘warn’ other members of the gym that Planet Fitness allows people to use the locker room suited to their gender identity. She was causing a disruption and creating an unsafe environment for trans people. Planet Fitness prides itself on being a no-judgment zone and she was clearly creating a judgmental environment by enflaming her fellow cis women. It makes perfect sense that they revoked her membership. And now she’s suing Planet Fitness for something like $25,000, so we’ll see how that goes.

In trying to come up with solutions to these bathroom debacles, some people have proposed making additional facilities for trans people or making all single-stall bathrooms gender-neutral, or even making all bathrooms gender-neutral, period. Here’s a Laci Green video talking about some of that:

I agree with Laci that making separate facilities for trans people is kinda separate-but-equal-y. Which is not good. I see no reason why all single-stall restrooms shouldn’t be gender-neutral, and I have seen “family” restrooms available, which seems perfectly reasonable. I’m also not particularly opposed to having all multi-stall restrooms be neutral as well, except for having cleaned men’s bathrooms before and they are.. not pleasant. Maybe we’d need to simultaneously introduce the concept of cleaning the bathroom after ourselves, like they do in French airports.

Ultimately, we need to collectively mind our own business and let people determine for themselves which bathroom they need to piss in. FFS.

Trans Passing Tips for Cis People (Gender Analysis 05)

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Did you know that parents tend to see newborn boys as larger and newborn girls as smaller, even when they’re the same size? Welcome to Gender Analysis.

Last time, we talked about how transgender people are affected by the expectation of passing – the idea that we should blend in as if we’re cis people. We discussed how this can force us to become secretive about every part of our lives, how it can keep us from advocating on our own behalf, and how it can isolate us from other trans people.

Now I’d like to examine passing in practice. Most people think of passing as a one-way street, as though the responsibility for passing or not falls solely on trans people. We often see cis people feign helplessness and protest that they just can’t see us as our gender. This serves as an excuse to misgender us.

But we’re not the only variable in this equation. It’s easy to assume that perception is an objective sense – that we all reliably see a person exactly as they are, just like pointing a video camera at them. Yet perception isn’t really like that at all, and this means that there are aspects of “passing” that are completely external to trans people. [Read more…]

Spawn More Trans: Transgender Awareness and Activation (Live at Social Justice Calgary)

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Remarks as prepared for Social Justice Calgary 2015:

Hi, I’m Zinnia Jones. I’ve been publishing my work on YouTube and on Freethought Blogs for several years now, covering secular and LGBT topics. I’m very honored that the University of Calgary Freethinkers have invited me here.

Most recently my focus has been on transgender issues. I’ve been transitioning for a couple years, and I’ve covered this topic like I would pretty much any other aspect of my life — telling the internet everything I think about it. I’ve also done a lot of research on it, because it seemed like no one else could really tell me all the things I wanted to know about going through this. So that’s a gap I’ve felt I should try to fill by sharing what I’ve learned with a wider audience. [Read more…]

Some Advice on “Passing” (Gender Analysis 04)

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Hi, welcome to Gender Analysis. The term “passing” is typically used to describe whether or not a trans person is perceived as noticeably trans. For a trans woman, to “pass” is to be seen as a cis woman in everyday life, and vice versa for trans men. Most people tend to assume that passing is or should be a goal for every trans person, and it’s easy to see why. Some of us do find it necessary to look like cis people of our gender, because that’s what it takes to relieve our dysphoria. In other cases, the changes that we need in order to feel comfortable just happen to push us more in the direction of passing. And when people don’t know we’re trans, it can eliminate some of the insecurities that can arise when people do know, like wondering if they really see us as our gender or they’re just humoring us.

More than that, being visibly trans in public can be dangerous. In a study of over 6,000 trans people in the United States, those who were seen as “visually non-conforming” were more likely to be harassed in retail stores, hotels and restaurants, and they were more likely to be attacked when using public accommodations such as restrooms. Practically all of us have faced the fear or the terrifying reality of being heckled by strangers just because of what we look like. Passing isn’t just about aiming to reduce our own dysphoria – it’s also about keeping ourselves safe from everyone else. [Read more…]

Wearing Shorts in the Winter (Concern Trolling)

TW: Discussion of victim-blaming in sexual assault, clothing10464169_10201853698937124_3923966816234564280_n

I wear shorts pretty much all-year ’round. That includes during the winter.

There are a lot of reasons why I wear shorts, and I become more familiar with them as the season progresses. Because people are constantly giving me shit for wearing shorts in the winter and I have to justify myself on a regular basis.

I’m poor and don’t have a ton of pairs of pants that are still intact enough to wear. I like to wear long socks that look cool. Long pants that are cut for female bodies are incredibly restrictive, and any sort of long pants make it hard to crouch and move around with ease and agility, as I’m wont to do. That makes it especially difficult to wear pants at the gas station I work at, where I have to walk around and do stuff all day.

But it’s winter. And customers tend to lose their minds a little bit over the fact that I wear shorts. Yes, I realize that it’s cold outside. However, I perform most of my job duties indoors, where they keep it a balmy 71°F. [Read more…]

Help My Awesome Family! (Plz?)

10464169_10201853698937124_3923966816234564280_nI generally try not to ask for favors for myself, but this isn’t for me, so today I’m going to use my extraordinarily limited platform to solicit help for my dad, step-mom, and two younger siblings.

My dad is presently unemployed, and my step-mom works part-time. Dad has fibromyalgia and other health issues which make it difficult to work. While my uncle is trying to hook him up with a job, Dad has aspirations to work at home making music (Soundcloud) and videos on his YouTube channel, DaveInABottle.

daveinabottle

(His name is Dave.)

[Read more…]

Skepticon 7 was pretty fun!

10464169_10201853698937124_3923966816234564280_nBefore I go on about my weekend, just wanted to take a second to acknowledge that Darren Wilson is not being indicted for shooting and killing Mike Brown. Which is super shitty and terrifying. And now, back to being privileged…

So, yes! This past weekend, Skepticon happened. It’s the second one I’ve been to, the first being back in 2012. Apparently I took no pictures except a couple selfies of me being pretty before the prom Saturday night, which is classic Me. XD

The venue was different than the last Skepticon I went to. The Oasis Convention Center via the Ramada is a pretty nice place. The tables for various groups were constricted to a relatively small hallway thing though, which was sometimes less-than-comfortable, but otherwise the hotel experience was lovely. (My hubby and I actually stayed across the street, but w/e.)

There were lots of amazing talks and workshops, some of which will be available to watch on the internets. There are only four at the time of this posting, but time inexorably marches on. I didn’t see all of them, but I did thoroughly enjoy the ones I caught. [Read more…]

The Gender Axis of Evil (Gender Analysis 02)

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Hi, welcome to Gender Analysis. Imagine if the light switches in your house turned all your lights on or off at the same time. You flip one switch, all the lights are on. Flip another switch, all the lights are off. That would seem kind of bizarre, right? If you’re just going to the kitchen for a midnight snack, why do you need the lights to be on in the laundry room and the office and everywhere else? That’s pretty unnecessary.

What if they were all dimmer switches instead, so that every light in the house could be brighter or darker in synchrony? That kind of flexibility still wouldn’t help, because it wouldn’t address the underlying issue: why are all these lights stuck together? Who would design a house’s electrical wiring like that in the first place? What sense does this make? It’s almost like they missed the point of having different light switches.

And yet this is the way that many people tend to think about gender, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Conceptually, they see these as just a handful of light switches that are ultimately linked to only one thing. To them, all of these concepts are locked together, moving with each other in synchrony – they think changing one thing can affect the rest. [Read more…]

Atheism, Social Justice, and Dictionaries

10464169_10201853698937124_3923966816234564280_nOver the years, the atheist movement has split asunder over the issue of whether social justice activism has a place within the atheist movement. Recently, a post on The Daily Banter caused a stir of conversation about it the likes of which I haven’t seen since Atheism+ started happening. (Though this one was markedly less impressive.)

The piece, written by Michael Luciano and entitled “Atheists Don’t Owe Your Social Justice Agenda a Damn Thing,” basically argues that social justice is something you do with your liberal hat on and not your atheist hat. He points out that all the word “atheist” means is that you don’t believe in gods and not necessarily that you support “liberal politics.”

It seems apparent to me, first of all, that atheism is a social justice issue. Heina points out in their post “Top Five Arguments the Atheist Agenda Doesn’t Have the Right to Use” that many things the atheist movement tries to fight for are social issues. A lot of atheist activism focuses on equal representation in and by the government and normalizing atheism, the goals of which are to eliminate the ways atheists are harmed as a minority. Seems pretty social justicey to moi. [Read more…]