There is an extreme conservative Christian blogger that shows up on my Facebook feed. He labels himself a professional truth-sayer, and seems to take a kind of self-righteous glee in denouncing anything he deems inappropriate or un-Christian. Recently, he published a response to the bathroom bill in Mississippi and North Carolina, full of frustration and hurtful terms. His post echoes the arguments I’ve seen scattered around every conservative page, and is a fairly efficient compilation of them.
Throughout the body of his writing, he is consistent about a few things. The first is that he builds up the transgender population as a group of petulant children and idiots, as if they are incapable of seeing logic or understanding the arguments of another party. In reality, he is being as intolerant and rude as he is accusing transgender people as a group of being.
The second is that he never addresses them in a serious or respectful way. They are labelled as “transgenders” or “so-called transgenders”, quotation marks denoting his scorn. It’s as if he were asked to comment on unicorn rights, and he treats a whole section of the population with as much respect as if they were, in fact, mythical beasts.
A huge part of the problem is that he is unwilling to recognize anything that is not what he already knows or accepts. Multiple times, he calls transgender women (people living as women who started as men) cross-dressers, regardless of their transition stage. He calls them cartoonish, wearers of “girl costumes”, “men wearing skirts in public”, and claims this is not who they are, quote: “. . . These people are free to do what they want and be who they are — or, in the case of “transgenders,” who they aren’t.”
Here’s the thing. No one except for yourself can tell you who you truly are. That’s why it’s called self-identity. The apparent frame of reference in this article is the assumption that every boy and girl fits (and should want to fit!) into categories like toy dolls, produced off a factory line in exact conformity. When I was twelve, I thought I was a bohemian flower child, and wore long scarves and flowing skirts to fit my mental image of myself. As I’ve grown up, I’ve changed this image and now present myself in a very different way, often in a rather androgynous, sometimes masculine fashion. The only difference between myself and a transgender girl is that I never had a male name, later asking to be addressed by a female one. If someone were to come up to you and tell you they were tired of being called William, and it got a little cumbersome, and could you please call me Liam, you’d oblige! If you didn’t, you’d be a little obnoxious, and probably one of the only people unwilling to cooperate.
Self expression is what makes us human. We seek, and have always sought, to make ourselves comfortable in our own skin. Some people like wearing skirts. Some prefer their legs in jeans or pants. Some people like heels and some go barefoot. Yet in this article, Matt Walsh compares dressing to ones’ own comfort level and expecting to be treated with human decency as ridiculous as “covering yourself in red paint and running through a shopping mall nude while yodeling into a megaphone[.]” Indeed, wanting to be treated like a human and expecting people to mind their damn business when it comes to your genitals is on par with a display of probable intoxication. This is a false analogy, and is one of several logic fallacies in his writing.
He goes on to defend the passing of the bill as reasonable and logical, stating that “The only caveat is that the half dozen “transgenders” in North Carolina have to do what every other human in North Carolina has to do, and what most humans in the civilized world have to do, and share public restrooms with people who share their anatomy.” This is incredibly distorted evidence, combined with a straw-man fallacy, loaded language, and extensive hyperbole. North Carolina is not some podunk backwoods village with 50 people. In reality, there are over 23,000 transgender adults in North Carolina (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article68334522.html). Not even bothering to do his research, Matt Walsh wrote what would make his argument seem credible, make it seem absolutely insane to think otherwise. He wants you to believe that this topic is unworthy of serious, respectful debate or concern. A law that inconveniences six or seven out of hundreds of thousands of people? At first glance- you may think, this isn’t my problem, it doesn’t inconvenience me, and I cannot image who would be inconvenienced by it. If this is the opinion you gain from his article, then he has succeeded with his angle.
However, does it not seem strange that literally overnight, a law would be passed just to inconvenience these very select six people? What’s so special about them? There must be a more significant representation than six measly people.
More feasible is a bill that picks a side based off a shared personal conviction in order to satisfy the unease of the powerful, alienating more than twenty-thousand members of that single state. If this law had been nation-wide, almost one million people would be thrown for a humiliating loop if they did not “pass” as one gender or another.
Never mind the line about sharing anatomy. What if they do not? If their transition is complete or far enough along, their genitals will match with their stated gender. How will anyone prove it one way or the other without themselves becoming the pervert they seek to catch? This bill gave law enforcement authority to inspect genitals if they suspect someone of being trans. How will this apply in the instance of completed transitional surgery? What if they’re wrong, and a cisgender citizen bares his buttocks for that officer? Are there legal compensations in the case of unfounded suspicions? What kind of officer wants to perform these inspections? Better question, do you want the kind of officer that secretly gets his jollies rooting around in people’s drawers protecting your family? What if someone in favor of this bill gets pulled over and asked to drop trou? Will they cheerfully comply in the spirit of fairness, or would they be resentful and embarrassed at the idea? There are so many awful implications here that don’t appear to have been considered.
Another popular argument among conservative camps is that the genders are still different and possess different genitals. This is, of course, true. Everyone needs genitals, and most people still conform to the idea of a penis or vagina. But the argument that: “many women are not comfortable unchanging or using the toilet in the same room as penis-bearing males” makes me want to bash my head into a wall. It’s incredibly non-sequitur! Almost every woman on the face of the earth is uncomfortable changing or using the toilet in front of anyone, even other women. That’s literally why bathrooms have stalls, and that’s why in a majority of cases, people turn their backs or drape towels over shoulders in locker rooms. Western culture especially is peculiar about nudity even in the same gender, and will always divert their eyes out of a sense of taught respect or shame.
I’m not going to deny that not every transition is perfect or complete, or tell you that they will be if you tolerate gender-neutral bathrooms. But just like you tell children not to stare at someone’s wrinkly ass, you can tell them not to stare at scars from top-surgery.
The baffling lines go on and on. I could even rap Matt Walsh across the knuckles for some strange form of sexism, for barely once does he make this a universal problem; rather, it’s a problem for good Christians and chaste women. He plays up the insinuation that letting people pee in the equivalent of a family bathroom will have people running around with video cameras, recording or observing innocent women while they pee. “. . .[a] woman should, and in some states does, have a guarantee that her privacy will be respected when she is “conducting her business” in a private room built and intended for use by females.”
I’m completely lost at that part. What is he expecting?? Is he really assuming that giving transgender people freedom to pee where they are comfortable means they will forget how bathroom stalls or door locks work? We have been raised for multiple decades now in the culture of multi-person bathrooms and the pathetic toggle locks they come with. No one over the age of five or six thinks it’s acceptable to barge in and invade your privacy.
This is not an issue of disliking the downtown landscaping. This is not some foreign citizens coming in and demanding that we change America to suit their culture. American citizens, born and raised, are trying to be happy. I find it hard to fathom that the nation that is so proud of itself is so unwilling to help their own children, and is so ready to call them awful names and tell them they are unnatural, unloved, or that God will hate them. They are branded such epithets as trannies, she-male, and hermaphrodite. Matt Walsh calls these people trying to be happy “ridiculous”. He says, “ If you don’t want to feel ridiculous, stop doing ridiculous things. Easy solution.” Easy solution, indeed.
Say Mr. Walsh has a daughter. A day or so before the semester starts, she gets a brand new haircut and loves it. She can’t wait to show all her friends. She has never felt more like herself. However she comes home from her first day of school in tears, and tells dear old dad that she was teased all day because the other kids said her hair was ridiculous, and now she feels ridiculous. She hates it. Will he, I wonder, kneel in front of her and hug her as a loving father? Will he support her self-expression and self-discovery?
Or will he nod gravely, look deep into her teary eyes, and tell her that if she does not wish to feel ridiculous, maybe she should stop being ridiculous?
What father could?
He may be inaccurate or poorly informed, but Matt Walsh is still human. If these were his children, would his views begin to shift? Or would he be unable to bow his prideful, scornful heart and show the love of Christ to his fearful child?
He goes on to roughly explain what he thinks this bill will be doing for the opposing camps he has set up in his argument. “Gays. . . are being told merely to respect the private property rights and freedom of association rights of a comparatively small number of businesses who might not wish to make the dessert for their “wedding.”” (A good start to any argument is to imply that someone’s marriage is invalid. But, moving on.) He is on the side of the put-upon Christian business owners desperately trying not to breathe in the ‘gay’ that just walked into their bakery. He forms his lines with loaded phrasing, a technique designed to skew the audience’s perception of the scenario. Through his lens, these good Christians can barely keep it together with how much the gays are snatching away. Let us keep our shops, they plead. In return, never speak to us, look at us, or try to give us your gay money. This isn’t ridiculous, after all: “[gay and transgender people] are not being asked to actively affirm anyone’s beliefs or do something that compromises their moral values, but only to not do something that compromises someone else’s moral values.” No, you’re certainly not asking them to convert and praise Jesus. But you are asking them to go where you, the conservative christian, think is correct. You are asking them to recognize you as the ultimate authority in where they may and may not go or do. Who are you to know whether that lady was born with those saggy breasts? How would you feel if you tackled her to the ground, only to find out she was telling the truth?
If one is proposing that we throw the transgender population into question, then one is essentially putting any citizen up for questioning at any given time. You see, that’s the thing about transgender discrimination. It’s not as easy as racism or sexism. Transgender people look just like anyone else. Humanity is so big, so varied. How is anyone to know what genitals hide under that impeccable pencil skirt?
Matt Walsh is a skilled writer, but he has gotten lazy. He got such significant positive feedback from his high-quality work that he has devolved into a scornful, click-bait writing, bitter man. His article is riddled with logic fallacies and inconstancies, and it refuses to look even for a moment at the other side.
Sadly, he is not the only person to resort to such logic. Almost every argument I’ve seen against gender-neutral bathrooms is hollow, un-founded, and is based in fear. Everyone is terrified that child molesters will take advantage of this system and sneak in to spirit away innocent children, or that men will dress up as women and go into bathrooms for a quick rape.
This has happened in exactly zero cases in history. Why would a rapist bother using the legal system in order to assault anyone? What child molester has ever been on their merry way into the bathroom, only to look up and stop when they see that the cartoon sign does not match their gender?
The fact is simply that problems are being made up to fit this situation. People will continue to do despicable things to other people. Perhaps, if we are so worried about what people will do to the vulnerable, we should focus on the people doing the raping and molesting and assaulting, rather than the raped and assaulted.
Walsh, M. (2016, April 6th.) No, Gays and Transgenders are Not Being Bullied. They are The Bullies. Retrieved from: http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/no-gays-and-transgenders-are-not-being-bullied-they-are-the-bullies/
Doran, W. (2016, March 25.) Answering Your Questions About North Carolina’s Newest Law. Retrieved from: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article68334522.htm