CN: Transphobia, politics.
You may have heard that North Carolina passed a really awful anti-trans bathroom bill this week. There are 14 other anti-trans bills in the legislatures in other states currently, with more coming up all the time. Usually these bills have not passed but the North Carolina situation shows increasing likelihood of more of these bills passing, creating serious every-day problems for many transgender people.
In most situations this kind of injustice makes me really angry. Usually I feel a strong drive to fix the problem, to call legislators, to participate in protests, and to blog about the injustice.
These bathroom bills, though, have left me with a deep sense of helplessness. There is something different, and very personal about the nature of this kind of bill. The bigotry is SO thinly veiled that it feels very much like being told directly “You do not have a right to public spaces.” Defeating them is a win in the sense that people can pee, but it doesn’t really do anything to fight the idea that we’re just not welcome in society.
I think part of the cause of this hopelessness is my total invisibility. These bills are a direct, vicious attack on trans women, with little or no recognition of the existence of trans men. Clearly these laws are more dangerous for my trans sisters than they are for me, but there’s harm in invisibility too. The proponents of these laws insist that they don’t want men in women’s bathrooms – then require me to go into women’s bathrooms. The lawmakers and proponents of the laws often seem completely unaware that trans men exist.
Many would argue that this kind of law doesn’t really impact me much, even if it applied in my local area, because no one is likely to enforce it with me. But the real impact of the law is on alienating non-cis people from society – trans women by labeling them as predators, trans men, non-binary people, and intersex people by erasing our existence, and all of us by misgendering us and restricting our identities to the sex we were assigned at birth.
Hopefully I will get my anger back. Anger is a powerful tool for fighting injustice, and in my experience one that is necessary. For me, anger can only come in the absence of helplessness and hopelessness, and today I just feel helpless.