Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Solution In Search Of A Problem

Several of Pennsylvania's honorable legislators have decided that we need a bathroom bill.  It would seem if we don't get going, we'll be left behind.  Never mind that our LGBT people have no civil rights, the only state in the northeastern part of the US not to have civil rights for all its citizens.

Yesterday was Rally Day for the Potty Party.  The Pennsylvania "Family" Association, our chapter of the American "Family" Association, had a big to-do in the capitol rotunda.  (As a rule of thumb, if the word "family" appears in an organization's name, it's a safe bet that it's fundamentalist xn, has very little to do with families, and lots to do with spreading and maintaining a level of hate, fear, and discrimination.)  Interestingly, the local newspaper/website didn't report on it, so I don't know how many of them attended.  I DO know that about 30 protesters were there because they organized at our LGBT Center.

The "idea" behind the restroom regulation is to make sure that transgender people must use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate, not the one they identify with.  I call this "the solution in search of a problem" because there's never been a reported case of a man dressing as a woman to get into the women's room to rape someone.  Never. Ever.  Anywhere.  So what's the problem?  The problem is that the LGs of LGBT have achieved a kind of respectability now that marriage equality is settled law.  While many southern states have tried to bar the ruling, they continue to be shot down.  While states like Pennsylvania will be fighting to keep equality from becoming law, the Republicans, preachers, and other grifters have noticed their contributions decreasing.  People now know gay men and lesbians.  We are family members, the friendly neighbor, the helpful co-worker, your child's teacher, and increasingly fellow members of the Parent Teacher Organization.  Back in the '70s, Harvey Milk said the biggest political act any of us can do is to come out.  It worked.

People in the hate industry discovered that it's still possible to demonize us, but it doesn't generate the money it used to.  Brian Brown's National Organization for Marriage, set up to stop progress toward marriage equality, held its annual hate march this past Saturday in Washington, DC.  Last year, there may have been 3000 people attending, thanks largely to a politician in NYC who hired several buses and transported hundreds of people free to the "march."  The problem was they thought they were there for a tour of Washington.  Instead, they got sandwiches and speeches, which they couldn't understand because they were Hispanic and their English wasn't that good. They were not happy. That scam wasn't tried this year.  Someone did a head count...237, including the speakers, babies, and reporters.

Lesbians and gays are finally becoming human.  Bisexuals, like divorcees, comprise a fair number of fundamentalist xn congregations, so they aren't an issue.  What's left?  Most people don't know anything about transgender people.  That makes them an easy target. An authority figure such as a preacher or a legislator can come up with all kinds of lies, tell them often enough, make them sufficiently horrible, and the sheep are ready to believe. After they lost the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality last June, they needed to find a new straw man and find it quickly.  Transgender people are perfect.

The dumbing down of the US has been a huge success.  Science "threatens" religion. Education, thinking and learning are discouraged.  Encouraging someone to question, to think for themselves, is dangerous.  It posits the possibility that whatever their authority figure says may be wrong.  Dangerous.  Former governor, former preacher, and presidential wannabe failure (even though his god told him to run) Mike Huckabee tested the waters by joking about how, if he had known all he had to do was chose to be a girl some days, he'd have taken showers with the girls.  This passes as humor in some circles. Since that got a laugh and provoked confusion, Republicans and The Truly Religious picked up on it and quickly came up with the baseless scare that their women and daughters were unsafe in the women's room and in store changing rooms.  In one day, North Carolina railroaded a bill through both houses of their congress and signed into law to make it a crime for a person who identifies as a woman to use a women's facility.  It also made it impossible to use the state court system to appeal a grievance at work, for cities to pass their own non-discrimination laws, and many other clearly hateful, discriminatory provisions.  

And, of course, there's the theological problem.  If god actually created a man inside a woman's body, that sounds like god made a mistake, and god can't do that.  The Truly Religious won't allow it.  It's bad enough that LGBs maintain we were born "that way," but it's just too much for a woman to be born in a man's body.  Rather than grant the possibility and investigate the research and talk to people who are transgender, dictatorial pronouncements are made and the masses are expected to follow.  And since it's far easier to follow than to think, the demonizing, fear, hate, and suspicion begins. 

The Pennsylvania "Family" Association, which has started hurting for funds, and certain Potty Party legislators, who are up for reelection this year, decided Pennsylvania needs the solution in search of a problem.  Most legislators don't think it will be debated, let alone voted on, let alone pass, let alone survive a veto from the governor, but it plays well.  "I'm scared now when I go to a public bathroom," one 14-year-old tender young thing told the gathered throng.  A year ago...hell, 6 months ago...neither she nor her parents would have given it a second thought.  But we now have new people to demonize, new people to be afraid of, new people to be suspicious of, new people to feel superior to.

I wanted to make this about the protesters who met at the LGBT Center before the fear fest and who returned to the Center to detox after.  I will say that most of the people were young, although there were at least 3 "older" people.  They were wonderful, articulate, knowledgeable, and many were transgender.  I felt privileged to be in their company yesterday afternoon.  I hope to write about that soon.

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