It’s the ERA or the Gender Nazis: You Can’t Have Both

Wonkette has a new article up about a trans person who was banned from giving a lecture on the history of unconventional genders and the people who express them. It happened in Montana just a few day ago, and was justified by the county officials who nixed the lecture by a recently passed anti-drag ban.

Weirdly, I said this would happen, oh, 27 years ago when there were no anti-drag bans. And I said non trans people, especially cis women, would be targeted for harassment in bathrooms and other gender segregated spaces under laws both then-extant and also laws proposed by some who wanted to address the need for trans access to sanitary facilities while continuing to write legal limits on gendered bathroom access into the criminal code.

And lo, and behold! There’s not only this lecture banned, but 22 or 23 years ago I was blocked from entering a building to deliver my own lecture, on the basis that I was a “feminazi” and “kiddie rapist”, and don’t forget the armed proud boys showing up to drag story hours. And we must remember not only the recent incident with cops on video harassing and removing a queer tomboy/skater type from a women’s restroom, but also too many incidents to name with people I know, cis and trans and others, being thrown out of restrooms on the basis of gender. People you know, likely too.

I say this to point out that the gender nazi is going to gender nazi, and while we have a hope of getting this law thrown out, these laws were never a prerequisite for hatred and harassment.

I’ve seen many, many years of complacency on these issues when I thought more effort and more argument were required. I get it, not everyone’s priorities are my priorities. And not everyone believed the apocalyptic trans girl b/c how could things really get this bad?

But we’re here and we’re fighting now. I simply want to make the point that it can’t just be about arguing the 1st or the 14th in court. Our response has to be everywhere, unrestricted by time, place and manner.

As I have said before,

If we win the right to speak, or to vote, or to employment, or to public access, or to equality, or to life, but only so long as we agree to be sufficiently conventional in our gender, not one of us, cis or trans, has won a single damn thing.

That life is life in Gilead, with different numbers of people happy on different days based on the ever-shifting gender norms of whoever holds power. Too many people have been content to live in Gilead because for much of the last 35 years the people with power have had slowly but continuously expanding definitions of acceptable femininity and masculinity.

I hope we are not too late in realizing that accepting gendered limits to our rights, even if we are comfortable with the current application of those limits to ourselves, is the acceptance of a governmental right to police out clothing, our language, our professions, our families, our lives.

We have never been safe from this policing, even if many of us have felt safe. It is stunning when one considers the number and breadth of the rights we have accepted as conditioned on acceptable gender. At its core, the issue is this: any right that may be frustrated or denied or revoked based on gender is a fundamentally insecure right. Since at the moment in the United States there is no right that is secure in this way, everyone living, working, or visiting the US exists under a very robust, manly sword hanging by a very dainty, feminine thread.

Nothing less than passage and ratification and public acceptance of the ERA can secure our rights. The power of government to police gender must be removed from its hands entirely, because it has proved it cannot use that power safely.

I want each and every one of us to see how trans people are treated and to think, “Yep, that’s how they would treat me.” Because they will. Because they can. Yes, I and other trans people are at the focal point of the gender nazi’s lens of hatred. But just because you’re not trans doesn’t make you remotely safe. They are fighting for the right to make anyone an untermensch  if they do not like your gender, but not because they want to gain it. Rather because they still have it and feel it slipping away. They do not want to lose this power. They do not want equality with the untermenschen.

And if their reactionary project is successful, if they reinscribe a government right to police gender for unacceptable deviance, there will be nothing left to do but kneel with a young pastor Niemoller, pray, and wait your turn.




  1. moonslicer says

    Yes, I came across a couple of stories the last two days.

    Today it was about a little assembly in an elementary school in North Hollywood, mainly concerned with diversity and inclusion. A book was read about how “some families are raised by a single mom/dad”, and “some families are raised by a grandmother”. Then they got to the bit about how “some families have two mommies/daddies”.

    That’s what brought the protestors out, with this constant refrain of “keep this crap away from the kids”. As if Americans are vitally concerned with their children’s well-being. Guns, anybody? But then the protest turned violent, and it looked like there was some pretty serious fighting there.

    But what would really sicken you was the comments below. One after another after another after another, “We stand with our children,” or “We stand with parents”, “Fight for you rights, parents,” “This madness must end,” etc., etc. And none of them seem to be aware that, yes, some kids do have two mommies/daddies, and some kids are gay or transgender themselves. Which is why inclusion is vital.

    And then the other story about a high school play in Indiana, based on the Robin Hood story but in which gender roles were reversed. Initially the school principal OK’d the play, but when an indeterminate number of parents protested, he nixed it.

    So the kids found a sponsor, raised some money and produced the play at a private venue. And the audience packed the place.

    But the protestors were still protesting, and the comments page was much like the one just mentioned. “These kids are being groomed,” etc. Apparently, in the land of free, they have no notion of freedom of speech, artistic freedom and so on. Even though the kids took it to a private venue, and no one was compelled to attend.

    The ones who badly need educating are the parents. But they’re a lost cause. Here in Ireland gay and transgender people have had legal rights for the last 7 1/2 years without causing the least harm to Irish society. Life goes on. But the American right have gone absolutely batshit crazy over nothing at all. There simply is no hope of making them see reason.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    everyone living, working, or visiting the US exists under a very robust, manly sword hanging by a very dainty, feminine thread.

    Not for the first time I observe that I’m baffled why anyone with any choice would visit the USA, much less live there if there’s any other option open to them. It’s a police state. Yes, it’s worse if you’re trans. Yes, it’s worse if you’re Black. Yes, it’s worse if you’re a woman. But even to me, a middle-aged cishetwhite bloke, the terrifying power and impunity of the armed gang that run the place (or the “police” as some call them) makes it a place to avoid. There’s a tide of rollback of rights that’s coming for basically anyone worth less than ten million dollars. (arbitrary figure – you know what I mean). I hope you can turn that tide, because when it breaks over the US it’s likely to wash over into a bunch of other places.

    The nazis are rising even in civilised countries. France and Italy to name but two have far-right politicians in unprecedentedly powerful positions. The UK’s two highest offices are occupied by a son of East-African born parents of Indian Punjabi background, and a daughter of Kenyan and Mauritian parents also of Indian descent. It’s notable that the latter spoke at the recent “National Conservatives” conference. She’s literally a NatC. In her speech, she stated that immigration threatened the country’s “national character”, and that Britons should be trained to do the jobs where immigrants are currently employed. She also expressed opposition to what she referred to as “radical gender ideology”.

    Fortunately this shower of worthless oxygen thieves are more likely to grow wings and fly to Mars than win the next election, so there’s that. That they exist at all, however, is fucking terrifying to even me, living in this country.

    I’m not sure I have a larger point than “fuck, yeah”. Oh, and to anyone who has a vote – FUCKING USE IT.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    I missed out the bit where I was supposed to say that while the raw demographic of the PM and Home Secretary might look like a victory for inclusion, he’s a billionaire and she’s a Nazi, so it’s really, really not. They’re both the type who are pulling up the ladder after them as fast as they can (in my mental image, Sunak is winding the ladder in and Braverman is machine-gunning anyone who make a leap for the receding lower rungs…)

  4. brightmoon says

    I grew up with an extremely misogynistic abusive father who was also a rabid gay hater . So I saw this crap coming from the religious right decades ago when my now 40ish son was a baby . Some asshole preacher (might have been Jerry Falwell) was spouting off about murdering women who’d had either abortions or children out of wedlock . I thought then that if they ever get into power they’ll act just like Daddy. Ive been involved in the pseudoscience vs science “debates” for a decades partially because I’m scared of those nutcase, women hating, usually racist, ignoramuses . Since I also think their non binary hatred is mainly due to misogyny and science illiteracy , I just added that to the list of things to oppose

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