By Kasi Patten / Opinion
NOTICE: The views in this piece do not mirror the views of the Natchitoches Parish Journal
For thousands of years, each gender came with a list of specific gender requirements. You wore pink dresses and bows in your hair if you were a girl. You were required to be emotional, afraid of dirt and attend ballet class. If you were a boy, you wore baseball caps, played football and were stoic when rough times came your way. But yet, it seems today things are changing up a little bit.
When I came to college, I had no clue about the LGBTQIA+ community. Much less what it meant to identify as the big T word- transgendered. Now, it is all I hear about. “Transgenders this,” Transgenders that.” One morning I woke up, clicked on my Facebook app, and my newsfeed flooded with lamentations of Target’s audacity to allow these “freaks” into the bathroom with “our wives, daughters, and mothers.”
Accusations of men allowed to enter women’s bathrooms who “hurt women, because they are now protected under the law,” assaulted my mind and soul. I wondered, what is the big deal? Uneducated on the topic, instead of blasting my haphazardly thought out opinion to my eagerly awaiting Facebook fans, I took to Google. When I could not find what I was looking for on the internet, I asked my peers. Here are my findings (NOTE: All names were left out to protect the identity of those interviewed):
The first person I spoke to was a cisgender female who goes to school with me. She grew up in Austin, Texas: one of the most liberal cities in the South. She mentioned how she never once felt threatened by the idea of transgendered women using the restroom they identified with. She felt more threatened by men while walking down the street. When they catcall and whistle, making comments such as, “you’re too pretty to have a boyfriend,” she felt disgust paint her body cold.
The lack of acknowledgment of sex crimes against women and the assumption that women “had it coming” made her uncomfortable. Not someone using the restroom they identify with. She felt as if Americans worried about the wrong side of sexual assault issues.
Honestly, I was raised by extremely conservative parents. I understand the whole right side and why they are upset that their nation changing so much, but I do not think fear constitutes hatred and prejudice. I do not think that in today’s time there is any place for trans-homophobia and violence towards the LGBTQIA+ community or people who support it.
By parading through Target thumping your Bible, yelling fire and brimstone and standing outside the bathrooms like some elementary school hall monitor you’re making things worse. Let me put it in perspective for you. As of April 2015, only 700,000 American’s identified as transgender. That is about 0.2 – 0.3 percent of the population. Do you realize how small that is?
I understand that the biggest argument is the supposed “rise in sexual assault in bathrooms.” This is a myth. Of the 18 states with NDO’s (Non-discriminatory ordinances) in place, none of them found a rise in sexual assault in women’s restrooms (http://abcnews.go.com/). The issue isn’t in the laws themselves, it’s in the way we handle sexual assault and crimes against women. If your biggest problem with the NDO’s is men going and assaulting women, then demand more severe punishment for men and women who commit sex crimes.
If you’re looking for something to compare it to here you go: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Just like taking away guns won’t stop gun violence, forcing gender binary tradition in bathrooms won’t stop sexual assault. How about instead we focus on making America a better place for everyone. Stop telling everyone they are going to Hell. Stop telling women if they dress and look a certain way they won’t get assaulted. Stop letting “boys be boys.”
Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”
I encourage everyone to do a little research on what it means to be transgendered. Then, have a conversation about what you can do to make your community better. Whether it be attending a local LGBTQIA+ meeting, or just becoming a little more understanding. Do not blast hatred on Facebook. Instead, try to understand. I promise, nothing is as scary as it seems if you educate yourself on the topic.