25/02/17, The Way the Wind Is Blowing
It was Thursday morning when I saw the news, the Trump administration policy that US states would be able to legislate against trans students having access into the school restrooms of the gender they identify with. It sent a chill because I thought we'd get four years of Trump making a fool of himself without much actual impact. But Trump has become the opposite of his predecessor Obama: Trump has no statesman-like qualities & he's making a big difference.
I don't doubt that his deputy, Mike Pence, is behind this policy. The legislation is apparently the work of 'conservative Christian lawmakers,' and that's Pence all over. Like so many conservative politicians, he's appropriated the name of Jesus Christ, and thus the impossible-to-argue-with authority of God, to enforce his narrow, simplistic, retrograde ideas about human identity on an entire nation. The hypocrisy is nauseating; Pence was quoted as saying it wasn't for the federal state to tell schools what to do, it was for state law-makers and the schools themselves. This is the typical right-wing double-speak of someone who wants to use the power of the federal state to outlaw abortion.
I'm afraid of what the Trump administration is starting. It's a signal that trans identity no longer counts as legitimate. It starts with public toilets – a tense enough place for transitioning trans people to enter at the best of times – but it doesn't take a leap of imagination to see it being extended to the workplace, not least in schools. It's only a few years ago that a trans school teacher in England committed suicide after a notorious right-wing populist journalist of the Daily Mail wrote an article challenging her right to be in the classroom to teach children. That article eventually got removed from the Mail's website; I wonder if Trump's policy is the start of a new anti-trans zeitgeist, a return to a golden age that never was.Because I want to add that Jesus Christ never spoke out against trans people. Gender-segregated toilets only started to appear in the nineteenth century, a sign of our evolution as a civilization, in which women in public places were entitled to the same facilities as men. These changes happen as we grow as a society, as we become more conscious and tolerant of our complexity. Pence and the 'conservative, Christian lawmakers' won't win this battle to deny the existence of people like myself, but he has succeeded in radicalizing me on trans rights in a way I hadn't felt before. Here at my university, as a response to this attack by Pence on trans rights in America, I'm going to start my own campaign to ensure we have gender neutral toilets at our Languages, Literature and Culture building (currently we have only male, female, and disabled), and that the rights of trans people to use the facilities of the gender they identify are recognized in writing. It might not seem much, but from small acorns do oak trees grow. If you want a battle on your hands, Mr Pence and all anti-trans legislators, you've got one.