CN: Transphobia, bathroom policies, hate speech, Christian apologetics, swear words. I might be channeling Niki a little with the language here. Also, fair warning that this post is a little less polished than usual because I’m pissed off.
The link the post I’m talking about is currently not working, and I’m aware of it. In fact the entire blog seems to have disappeared at the moment, but I don’t know why.(4/27/2016 8:15am CST) It’s back up this evening (4/27/2016 11:30pm CST)
Comment Moderation Note: Comments questioning the legitimacy of transgender people’s identities are not allowed on this blog and will not be allowed through. Trans men are men, trans women are women. Don’t waste either of our time by suggesting otherwise in the comment section. (4/30/2016 2:15pm CST)
This week a self-identified “straight conservative preacher’s wife” named Jaci Lambert wrote about her reactions to Target’s bathroom policy, which is long-standing and states that people in their stores are welcome to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Lambert says she understands why Christians are so angry about Target’s policy, but wants her fellow Christians to display more love and understanding rather than anger and boycotts. She also points out that sexual assault happens in lots of contexts, including in parish communities, and keeping trans people out of bathrooms isn’t an effective safety mechanism.
So, she’s got those parts kinda right. Everything else in this post is oh so wrong.
First of all, Lambert displays a complete and utter lack of understanding of trans people. She uses the form “transgendered” every time she talks about us, which at this point is a blatant dog-whistle that someone doesn’t know a single fucking thing about us. She also misgenders trans people by calling us men who identify as women and women who identify as men. I will admit that the inclusion of trans men in this is surprising to me, since people who are this unaware of trans issues usually are unaware that people like me exist, so I guess there is that. Still, despite all of her talk of love she clearly hasn’t actually attempted to understand even the most basic respectful language to use when talking about us.
In a much more disturbing display of Lambert’s ignorance on this topic, she talks about how she would talk to her children about trans people if they should see one of us in a bathroom. “I would then have the opportunity to explain to my children, who don’t have any choice but to grow up in this messy world, that there are some people who feel like they are different and like they don’t belong anywhere. We could talk about what Jesus would do and how He would expect us to love them and how we would feel if we didn’t belong anywhere.”
Are you fucking kidding me? People who feel like they don’t belong anywhere? THAT’S what she thinks a trans person is?
Let me tell you about belonging, Mrs. Lambert. I used to be in the Catholic Church. It’s absolutely true that I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere during that time. Before transition, when I was trying so hard to figure out who I am and what my future could possibly be, the Church had some very specific ideas about my role in the world. That changed, Mrs. Lambert. It changed when I left the Church, when I came out as a man, and when I began to transition. Almost immediately, my life changed.
As myself, I belonged. After the decision to transition, as a transman in the world, I belonged right away. I had friends, community, lovers, joy, and love. The world opened up to me in transition in a way that I could never have imagined while trapped in the restrictive hateful world of the Church. My experience as a transman says that we are not all people who don’t feel like we belong anywhere – I am a person who knows exactly where I belong.
I belong in Atheist communities. I belong in my Catholic University classrooms. I belong in my big poly family, and with my spouse and pets. I belong with my family of origin, as we have grown together through my transition and aging and learning about each other. I belong with my long time friends. I belong, most of all, in the queer community full of people working together to end the prejudice that kept me and so many others trapped in places we did not belong for so long.
When you teach your children, Mrs. Lambert, teach them that we are just like them. That might terrify you, but it’s true. Your children will have to figure out who they are in this world some day. If you expect them to be much like you, and follow the strict ideas of your religion, they might indeed feel like they don’t belong in the world. You get to decide if they belong with you or not, and the chances are that the more conservative and limited you think their options should be, the greater the chance your children will decide they fit better with other people.
Lambert also has some words for “the left” about tolerance. She says “You throw out the word “tolerance” like it is your love child, conceived and birthed in some spectacular fashion. You carry it around like your trophy, your greatest contribution, but as soon as someone voices a differing belief (most notably for religious reasons) you turn around and use your tolerance trophy to bludgeon them into a bloody pulp.”
Wrong. Tolerance is not our love child, nor even our goal. Tolerance is the bare minimum necessary to not be a fucking horrible human being. Tolerance is what it takes to decide we are not worth murdering, as so many people do in fact believe should happen to us. Tolerance is a starting point, and not the end.
Mrs. Lambert, I do not want your tolerance. I INSIST on better. I want equality. I want acceptance. I want dignity. I want to be seen and treated the same as you by society. I want exactly the same rights and privileges you have.
My insistence on basic human rights – the ability to pee in peace, the ability to build a family that works for me, the ability to obtain medical care appropriate to my identity etc – is absolutely not intolerance of your faith. I will tolerate your faith forever. Your faith has a right to exist, even if I think it’s harmful bullshit. You are welcome to pee in peace, to build your family with your preacher husband, and to attend your church and even preach your faith.
No one is “bludgeoning [Christians] into a bloody pulp” in this country. Demanding our own rights does absolutely nothing to harm you.
You know who’s being made into a bloody pulp, Mrs. Lambert?