Yes, You Are Transphobic


So take a look at this picture that’s been making the rounds on Facebook.

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Hoo, hoo. Tee-hee. Hi-larious. Beacuse, you know, Bruce Jenner turned into a woman, so of course his/her/its cat became a dog! Ha!

So, yeah. That’s fucking obnoxious and stupid.

Also obnoxious and stupid? A bill recently struck down by voters in Houston, Texas, that would have granted basic protections to LGBT people, incuding allowing people to use the bathroom of the gender they feel they belong to. It’s that last part that got the conservatives up in arms.

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This campaign included an ad that I can’t find online, oddly, that showed some sinister man tailing a little girl into the bathroom, then bursting in on her in the stall. Beacuse, you know, this will be a license for anyone to just rape your kids in the bathroom and it’ll be totes legal.

I’ll state this plainly: if you were against this bill because if this bathroom business, then you’re a transphobic bigot, and probably an asshole. You’re also clearly someone who lacks basic logical skills and a sense of empathy.

Pretend that you’re a single woman who’s going into a bathroom in a reststop off the highway. It’s late, and you go inside. You fuss at the mirror for a moment, and then get ready to head to a stall, but as you do, in walks this large, bearded, biker dude. Tattoos, sunglasses, leather clothes, the lot. Why, you wonder, isn’t this person in the men’s room? Why is he in the same room as you? Is rape on the schedule for tonight?

This large biker just nods and goes in to a stall as you leave, feeling very uncomfortable. You get outside and call the police, who show up pretty quickly. There’s some discussion with the biker, and then they let him go, no charges filed. Why? Because it turns out the biker is female-to-male transgendered and, thanks to the fail of the ballot measure, this person, who is in every way presented as male, is now forced to use the women’s room.

Do you understand the picture I’ve painted here? Someone who is transgender is someone who is genuinely going from one gender to another. They were born with male no-no parts, but believe themselves to be female, or vice versa. Under those circumstances, they’re going to dress, act, and present themselves as the gender they believe themselves to be. In the case of a man transitioning to a woman, this means facing assault by homo-/transphobic men in a men’s room, and in the case of a woman transitioning into a man, terror and assumptions of rape when you walk into a women’s room.

It is essential and logical that someone should be allowed to use the restroom they are presenting themselves as. Anything else is just stupid, and causes way more problems.

Now let’s move onto another subject the anti-trans crowd likes to go off on: school locker rooms. According to the likes of Mike Huckabee, it’s only the laws that keep people like him from being creepy sexual predators. The logic here is that if you allow kids to use the locker room for the gender they believe themselves to be, well, clearly all the boys are going to abuse this in order to see girls naked.

That’s stupid. The peer pressure alone would be hell for said kid if he does it more than once (the assumption other boys would make would not be pretty), and I imagine it would be fairly easy to weed out people like that by having them submit proof of treatment from their therapist.

But let’s ignore that bit of logic and assume that, yes, there might be some very small number of kids who would do this just to see the other gender naked (beacuse appraently they don’t know about the internet). That number would likely be significantly smaller than the number of trans kids out there who are being marginalized by forcing them to use a locker room for the gender they don’t believe they are part of.

For the sake of everyone, allowing trans people access to the bathroom/locker room that’s “correct” for them is just sanity. It’s way better than any of the alternatives, and a stupid thing to have to focus on.

So, yes, if you smirk at that photo above, and say, “Well, they’ve got a good point!” about the failure of the bill in Houston, then screw you, you bigoted asshole, and enjoy this picture of a woman in a women’s bathroom. Hey, it’s what you people say you want.

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And a Slow Sense of Sanity Returns


She vetoed it. Thank goodness.

I’d like to hope that threatening the state’s economy and trying to turn back the clock on civil rights by 50+ years will be enough to get these asshat Republicans out of office. I’d like to think that. But what will happen is that Republicans will vote for them anyhow. They will either do this because they agreed with things like SB1070 and SB1062, or they’ll do what a gay Republican friend of mine seems to be doing and simply rationalize away the problem. Also, I’ll lay down some money right now that the Arizona GOP will try to censure her for this and the Medicaid expansion. If they did it to McCain, after all…

Is Coming Out Still an Act of Bravery?


A few days ago, indie film darling, and occasionally successful mainstream actress, Ellen Page, came out of the closet. Most of us yawned and went back to playing Flappy Birds, which led CNN to ask the question, “Is coming out still an act of bravery?”

I’d say…maybe. Perhaps. It depends on the circumstances. If you’re a reasonably popular indie film actress who isn’t bad looking and has probably given up on any real hope of massive, mainstream success…then no, it isn’t. If you’re someone at the tail end of your NBA career, aware that you probably aren’t going to play professionally again…then no, it isn’t. If you’re one of the best football players in the country, confident of getting a multi-million dollar contract once you’re drafted…then no, it isn’t. If you’re a transgendered person spending the next few years in federal prison for leaking documents…then no, it isn’t. If you’re a male figure skater…it’s kind of just taken as read that you’re gay.

But on the other hand, if you’re someone whose career is still on the rise, with no guarantee of further money, fame or success, then, yes. If you still have almost everything to lose, then coming out is an act of bravery. If you live in modern Russia, then coming out is an act of bravery. If you live in a fucking awful country like Uganda, then coming out is an act of almost suicidal bravery.

But for the most part, in 2014 America, coming out is…just a thing. And most people will yawn, and go back to playing Flappy Birds. And that is exactly how it should be.

When Will Coming Out Become Easy?


Here is a video from British Olympic diver, Tom Daley.

Here is a video from YouTube sensation and actor, Troye Sivan.

Coming out is the process of telling various people, sometimes even yourself, that you are something other than straight. It’s something that has been, and for many people remains, a very traumatizing, yet liberating, experience, and it is almost never easy.

I came out as gay back in 1991. Turned out I was a little off, and revised that to being bi sometime in the late 1990s. Yes, I, too, still fancy girls. My coming out was fairly smooth and easy and surprised absolutely no one, aside from one of my grandfathers who chuckled a bit and said, “You’re not gay.” Turns out he was right, but not, I suspect, in the way he thought.

For me coming out was a fairly easy, straight-forward (as it were), process. I told my mom, my dad, other members of my family, and my friends. Not even one single person seemed remotely surprised, aside from the aforementioned grandfather. The whole coming out process, which took several months, mind you, also landed me in a three-year relationship which was, I must say, pretty sweet.

I had a fairly smooth and easy coming out experience. No one broke off their friendships with me, my family didn’t disown me, and basically no one seemed to give a fuck. That was twenty-two years ago, and from what I can tell, things have gotten even easier. I can only imagine what it was like for someone to come out in, say, the mid-1980s, at the height of the AIDS crisis. Or imagine what it was like in the early 1970s. Go much farther back, and it wasn’t even really an option. It’s only been within my lifetime that coming out has really be a thing for most people.

It’s gotten easier, but as the above videos illustrate, it is still by no means easy. It still involves a lot of personal exploration. It still involves a lot of stress. It still involves a whole, big process where people have to be told. And, sure, it’s not likely to be a surprise to many people, but even still. There’s also always that chance that people might not react as one wants, and gays, lesbians, bisexuals, etc, do still lose friends and get disowned by their families.

When will coming out become easy? It will become easy when it is no longer necessary. When someone can just be who they are and love who they love without anyone noticing, commenting, or really caring. When being gay, or bi, or lesbian, or whatever is regarded as being roughly the equivalent of being left-handed (ie: something most people aren’t, something that makes life a bit different, but not anything abnormal), then and only then will coming out become easy.

We aren’t there yet. But we will be at some point, and that makes me very happy to think about.

15 States (and One District), Down. One More on the Way. 34 States and 5 Territories to Go!


Blue kangs states are best!

Blue kangs states are best!

Since August, Minnesota, New Jersey and Illinois have legalized same-sex marriage. Hawaii is poised to be next. New Mexico will probably follow sometime in the next few months. At present, well over 100 million Americans (37% of the population), live in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. All of us live in a country where the federal government grants recognition to marriages legally performed in these states.

So this begs the question: when will the other 34 states and five territories get off their collective asses and legalize same-sex marriage?

The territories will likely be a mixed bunch. Guam has discussed the issue, but hasn’t moved on it. Peurto Rico is heavily Democratic, but also heavily Catholic. Pope Francis has told everyone to basically stop worrying about the gays, but it remains to see if that’s going to matter. The US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and CNMI all have their own issues as well.

As for the various states, well…look at that map. The problems are basically where you’d expect them to be. Looking at another map may be informative.

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That’s what laws against mixed-race marriages were like back in the day. And by “back in the day” I mean up until the late 1960s. The Supreme Court case that struck those laws down, Loving v Virginia, was decided less than five years before I was born. We were only two years away from landing on the Moon, and yet it was still illegal for a white and black person to get married in vast parts of the country.

There are some significant overlaps in that map. The last states to have anti-miscegenation laws are also, with the exception of Delaware, all states that ban gay marriage to greater or lesser degrees. These holdout states had to be dragged, sometimes almost literally, kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

Sadly, I think that’s what it’s going to come down to again. Some currently “red on the first map” states will be pragmatic and pass gay marriage laws. I expect Michigan and Nevada to take this route, and both to do it for money. Others will gradually sober up and take their mouths off the Tea Party exhaust pipe and simply realize, with good ole fashioned Midwestern populism, that what two consenting adults do together is their own damn business. Montana, the Dakotas and possibly Kansas will go this route. Oklahoma may, especially as word gets out that some of the Indian tribes there will perform gay marriages.

But we know what the real holdouts will be; the deep south. The place where people sometimes still refer to “the war of northern aggression” and think that Richard Nixon was dangerously liberal. What they think about Lyndon B. Johnson doesn’t even bear repeating. Most people in the south aren’t racist, that’s sure. But I think we can assume that if there’s any place where one can be fairly openly racist, the deep south is that place.

Mind you, this is several decades after Loving, after Martin Luther King, Jr, after school integration and after the Civil Rights Act. So, no, I’m willing to bet that the deep southern states, except maybe Florida will keep gay marriage illegal up until the bitter end when the Supreme Court forces them to accept it.

And when will that be? Well, it depends on what happens between now and January of 2017. If Obama gets another SCOTUS nomination or two (Scalia will probably hold on until he’s dead, but Thomas might leave), then my guess is somewhere around the 2018 or 2019 term. If there’s only a couple of the Dark Side-style conservatives left, it could happen then. It could happen earlier. Roberts has been slightly impressive over the last couple of years and has proven to be very good at figuring out where the winds of change are blowing.

Even then, I don’t imagine that we will get a full-on “all states must have gay marriages” ruling. That will probably not come until sometime next decade. But a ruling that says all states have to recognize any marriages legally performed in other states? That will come sooner and will frankly make a lot of sense.

It’s only been about ten years since Massachusetts became the first state with gay marriage. Oddly, pretty much nothing the anti-gay marriage crowd has predicted has come to pass, and now we have many, many other states joining the team. Soon more will, and this imperfect experiment of American equality will take another grand step forward.

SCOTUS and DOMA, etc


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So the Supreme Court is hearing cases on California’s Proposition 8 (you know, the one that holds that the public are allowed to take away rights granted to people), and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. At stake is the future for same-sex marriage in this country. If the justices rule one way, we likely still have the current situation, with nothing really changing. If they rule the other way, we likely still have the current situation with nothing really changing. At least in the short run.

See, I don’t think this is going to be another Loving v Virginia case, or even another Lawrence v Texas. I expect that in the Prop 8 case, the court will make a very narrow ruling that applies only to California and says that the people can’t take away rights previously granted to a minority.

The DOMA case is a bit trickier. There’s no real Constitutional ground for DOMA. It’s 100% about discrimination and everyone knows it. I expect the court will overturn it, requiring that the federal government recognize gay marriages legally performed. I don’t expect that they will, at least at this point, take the next logical step and require that states recognize any legal marriage, even if they don’t perform those sorts of marriages themselves.

This case has been a long time coming, and sadly I’ve spent the last couple days buried under allergies, so I haven’t been able to pay as much attention as I’d like. Still, I think this is going to, in the short run, end up being a positive thing for gay marriage, and in the long run, it will set the stage for major, massive reforms.

Well, This Was a Welcome Surprise…


In retrospect, the hair was probably a major hint.

Zachary Quinto, who, among other things, played Spock in the recent Star Trek reboot, has come out of the closet. He did this apparently in response to a gay teen killing himself back in September.

It’s really quite rare when actors who have active careers come out, but we’re starting to see more and more, with people like Ellen Degeneress and Neil Patrick Harris. Usually it’s actors whose time on the stage has passed. Coming out these days and still having a career isn’t as rare as it used to be, but it’s still quite notable, and good for Quinto for doing so!

Next up on the lists of “People Who I Want to Come Out”… let’s have an active NFL player and a member of an active and popular boy band.

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