You may have noticed I’ve set the words “winter” in quotes in this post’s title. Yes, it’s technically been winter in the Northern Hemisphere since December and not just one month (this past warm week in Wisconsin notwithstanding). But I think we all know the “winter” I’m talking about:
As I write this (February 25), it’s been a month and a few days since You Know Who became You Know What. And while there are some who, unfortunately, are enjoying what has transpired over this time (including one fellow Wisconsinite I heard on NPR this week who almost made me want to reach into the radio and whoop them upside the head over their glee), there are countless others like me — you know, the ones who were in the real majority last November — who are so diametrically opposite of You Know Who who have been upset to their core, along with (hopefully) those who are having a bit of buyer’s remorse.
You’ve probably heard the earthquake of moves that have taken place in the past month-plus, especially moves that have adversely affected those from certain countries out of fear of a certain religion; said moves have been, thankfully, placed on hold by the courts. Unfortunately, another narrow-minded move that was announced this week that rescinded federal protections put forth by the Obama administration that assured transgender students the right to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity (my emphasis). That the rescinding was made with the pressure of the current Attorney General with You Know Who’s acceptance; both forced the so-called Secretary of Education, who had reportedly been resistant to the move, to capitulate and accept.
That capitulation of the Secretary of Education left me upset, but not as upset, of course, as the actual rescinding. Transgender kids have been gaining social acceptance, from their peers and otherwise. But this federal government move — all for the sake of “leaving it to the States” — will leave them in a vulnerable state. And being a kid shouldn’t mean being left vulnerable, especially when it comes to being bullied. And I don’t just mean being bullied by the kids. I’m talking being bullied by parents, teachers, faculty, and administrators who tell a trans girl to use the boys’ restroom or a trans boy to use the girls’ restroom.
One of the well-past-worn reasons given for barring transgenders from using their restroom of choice was to prevent the sexually deviant from disguising themselves and showing their you-know-whats to the innocent. But, really, there is a better chance of getting hit by lightning than seeing someone’s privates in a restroom. Oh, and a better chance of a so-called conservative groping someone’s private parts in public. And a much better chance of, say, cis-gender boys harassing a trans girl forced to use the boys’ room because said trans girl was born a boy.
By now, you know where I’m going here. This news has left me really upset, enough so that I skipped a CD/TG discussion group meeting last night because I was so angry (and sort of like Bruce Banner, I look pretty ugly when I’m all dolled up and angry). It’s left me even more empathetic than before towards trans people of all ages. I say “all ages” because it’s not just trans kids that should worry, as news surrounding HB2 in North Carolina and similar proposed legislation in states such as Texas affect trans adults. Even this crossdresser is really afraid; no, I’m no pervert (and never have been), but I fear that if I were dressed up and presenting myself as Allison in public, used the women’s restroom, and were read as someone other than a genetic female, I would be treated in… let’s just say less-than-pleasant terms, and not just those involving the legal system. That’s why I feel such great empathy toward my fellow crossdressers and fellow trans sisters and brothers. Seriously, we should not have to be harassed or threatened (or worse) when all we need to do is, uh, do our simple natural duty as human beings.
When you really think of this “controversy” (note the air quotes), your mind begins to realize an argument I saw on social media more than once this week: Rescinding transgender protections are not about who can go into which bathroom. And I agree on that, just as much as having “whites only” and “colored only” water fountains, restaurant sections, etc. way back when were about preventing disease. Nor was forcing an African-American woman to sit in the back of the bus exclusively about giving someone else the front seat. Nor was having slaves in the early half of the 19th century only about assuring a bumper cotton crop. No, they’re all about one privileged class desperately holding onto their advantage over another class based solely on age, wealth, gender identity, sexual identity, ethnicity, national origin, or, yes, even skin color, religion, or gender identity (perceived or otherwise). Many of you may disagree with me on this, and you may do so vehemently. But, really, look back on those dark moments and darker attitudes of our history and you will realize that it all had to to with prejudice. Don’t even doubt that for a minute.
At least there are vast amounts of people who will not take all this unfounded yet very dangerous hatred surrounding our country lying down. The Women’s March movement is tangible evidence of that. The recent occurrences of protests at “town hall” meetings that members of Congress have had with the constituents they’re supposed to represent.
And there are those such as the person whose story I came across this morning while writing this post: Just like a vast many of you, Shannon Coulter was enraged last fall when You Know Who was revealed to have bragged about grabbing women by the you-know-where. It motivated her to start a movement to boycott any product tied to You Know Who and any retailer who sold them. Shannon’s move started small, but it has since grown into a coast-to-coast campaign billed as Grab Your Wallet. And it’s had an effect: Several retailers have cut ties with not only You Know Who but more noticeably his daughter and her fashion line. Sure, many of the retailers have cited “poor sales,” but at least they’re cutting ties with a family name long self-promoted as “gold standard” class that is in reality only the equivalent of cubic zirconia.
Shannon Coulter’s “Grab Your Wallet” movement is relatively bare bones unlike, say, a Fortune 500 company: It’s only based in a small work space in her home. It’s based on a lot of, relatively speaking, “shoe leather” action (i.e. looking up retailer and product information on the internet). And it’s gotten by via word of mouth and public support from others. (Side note: It also doesn’t involve selling stuff with the “Grab Your Wallet” name on it, so take a pass on anyone selling that name on a hat for a profit.) It’s also put Shannon in the crosshairs of more than one pro-You Know Who supporters, some with rather scary intent. But Shannon is staying strong with her movement, even though it’s taken up a lot of her personal time (she’s a marketing consultant in her regular life). And we should all be glad that she’s staying strong. You can read more about Shannon and Grab Your Wallet in this New York Times profile.
If you’ve noticed yourself laughing at things a lot, lot less than you were the day before You Know Who became You Know What… well, join the club. Hearing about one scary dictate after another from this new administration, or one chilling claim after another being made by You Know Who and his acolytes, has really taken the fun out of things. In actuality, things got less and less fun before last November’s election, not just afterwards. Sure, quite a lot of people didn’t take You Know Who seriously at first, still failing to do so as the campaign wore on and on. Then [*BOOM!*] he gets elected and politics weren’t so funny anymore; it was as if our collective humor switch was turned to the “off” position. (“Oh, now you realize how scary and threatening this awful man is?! Where were you beforehand?”)
The trio who hosts the public radio podcast The Cooler picked up on that with an episode recorded earlier this month. During said episode’s first segment, the hosts talk about the point when You Know Who decided he should run for You Know What, as well as the thought of when or when not to use humor to counter someone so sinister plus combining humor with real anger to get one’s point across in cultural discourse. (Spoiler alert: Samantha Bee gets brownie points.) You can hear that Cooler episode at this link; it takes up the first 10 minutes or so of the 42-minute running time, and the rest of the episode is a pleasure to listen to as well. Here’s hoping it gets you through another day of this “winter.”