Procrustean pants


North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has released a statement about the Obama administration’s new bathroom policy. Forest states, in part,

North Carolina will not stand by and let our locker rooms and high school showers be used for social experimentation at the expense of the privacy and protection of our young boys and girls. I do not think it is appropriate for teenage boys and girls to share the same bathroom. I don’t think it appropriate for teenage boys and girls to shower next to each other.

Which sounds almost moral until you realize that this is his argument in favor of forcing high school girls to share bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers with transgender boys.

There are a couple of things going on here, and one of them is that Forest and his ilk simply do not understand what it means to be trans. Their understanding of gender is driven entirely by their own sexual desires: they understand their own sexual role, and the sexual role of the partners they prefer, and in their eyes that’s what defines sexuality. Period. There are two genders, “mine” and “my partner’s,” and everybody in the whole world has to fit into one or the other of those two roles. The legendary procrustean bed, re-designed as underpants.

But I think the bigger picture is that modern society is rapidly turning into a threat to the whole idea of bigotry as a way of life. Back in the good old days, back when America was “great,” bigotry just made everything easier—at least for the bigots. You didn’t need to understand people who were different. You could just hate them and deny them a place in society and even deny their very existence. But now all that’s changing. More and more, people are realizing that everyone is unique. Everyone is different, in one way or another.

And there’s nothing inherently wrong with being different. If you fall in love differently, if you see yourself differently than how other people want to see you, that’s not wrong. It doesn’t hurt anybody. (And if it hurts the bigots’ feelings, that’s a flaw in their character, not yours.) We’re slowly improving our society, removing arbitrary and harmful impediments, and becoming more inclusive. In fact, diversity is making us stronger, enriching our culture, and giving us the benefits of everyone’s contributions.

And that’s a threat to bigots like Forest. He doesn’t want to have to understand anybody different. He’s drawing a line in the sand and announcing to all the world that he flat out refuses to even acknowledge the existence of transgendered children. He’s keeping the lines where the bigots originally drew them, and he’s going to defend those lines with every last ounce of strength he can muster, to save bigotry as a respected and dominant lifestyle in America.

And that’s why he’s making high school girls shower with transgendered boys. It’s a bigot thing. You wouldn’t understand.

Comments

  1. says

    Minor nit:
    bigotry just made everything easier—at least for the bigots. You didn’t need to understand people who were different. You could just hate them and deny them a place in society and even deny their very existence.

    I don’t think there was a lot of hate. At first.

    Hate was reserved for those that didn’t know their place. It’s stock authoritarianism: “be like us or be against us” and if they refuse to conform then the hate comes out. GLBT is inherently nonconformist at this time because they’ve been excluded and oppressed. Authoritarians live to oppress someone because what’s the point of being an “in group” unless there’s an “out group” you can beat on?

    • Ethan Myerson says

      YES! This is a perfectly apt metaphor. I see this all the time with evolution-deniers who fail to grasp the idea of tiny incremental generational changes eventually leading to speciation. They can only see “Crocodile becoming duck”, which is easy to deny. The polygons involved in evolution, or in the gender/sexuality spectrum, are infinitesimal, but some folks can only see the low res blocks.

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