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The alleged trans voyeur

Commentary: Trans Progressive

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted as saying, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

King was talking about racism, but I believe one can extrapolate further to just plain bigotry; judging an individual solely by a characteristic that identifies them as a member of an identity community is a fail.

I know for me it’s important to visibly identify myself as transgender, queer, mentally disabled and a veteran. Yet, none of those community identities – individually or intersectionally – tell you if I’m an inherently good person. It’s instead the content of my character that defines how I should be judged.

In the transgender community, we have rapists, murderers and sex offenders. By apparent content of character, it’s difficult to call these transgender people inherently good people. It’s little comfort to me to know that every identity community has its share of people that are difficult to call inherently good.

But most of us, in any identity community, aren’t sexual predators.

There is such a thing as the bathroom predator myth. It’s a myth that assumes trans women will either be, or provide cover for, sexual predators in public bathrooms, locker rooms and changing areas. Where public accommodation protections have passed into law on the basis of gender identity, there has been no statistical uptick in bathroom predation by transgender people.

But some in LGBT civil rights organizations created a talking point that’s gone beyond the statistics. The DC Trans Coalition has posted on their Web site “We’re already using public bathrooms, and have been since we have existed. There have never been any documented problems caused by us [transgender people].” Vincent Villano, the director of communications for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), told Mic April 02, 2015 that NCTE has “not heard of a single instance of a transgender person harassing a non-transgender person in a public restroom. Those who claim otherwise have no evidence that this is true and use this notion to prey on the public’s stereotypes and fears about transgender people.”

Even the LGBT press has chimed in with the idea that there are no trans bathroom predators. Sunnivie Brydum wrote for The Advocate March 10, 2015 that “Although hundreds of trans-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances have been in force in cities around the country for several decades, there has never been a verifiable, reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person.”

Well, never been a verifiable, reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person until possibly now. Shauna Patricia Smith, a trans woman living in Ammon, Idaho, was arrested for felony video voyeurism July 11. She went into the local Target’s unisex changing area, and allegedly with her iPhone reached over the wall of her dressing room and began videoing an 18-year-old woman trying on clothing in the room next to hers.

As LGBTQ Nation reports, “Given the facts as we know them, Target’s trans-inclusive policy – which was met with scorn and petitions from anti-LGBTQ forces – has no bearing on this case. But it’s become a talking point, to the level of boasting, among right wing anti-transgender pundits.”

Yet, it was naive for anyone in the LGBT community to claim “There has never been any report of a transgender person utilizing their bathroom privileges to harass or attack cisgender people in the bathroom.” as was claimed on Gender Therapist’s Dara Hoffman-Fox’s Web site last April. That’s because it doesn’t take a gender therapist to know that being transgender doesn’t make one an inherently good person, and that there’d eventually be a transgender bathroom predator.

Shauna Patricia Smith, as well as every member of the transgender community, should be judged by the content of their characters, and not the characteristic of being transgender. In a perfect world, trans community members wouldn’t be painted with a broad brush because of what Smith allegedly did.



Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=72337

Posted by on Jul 21, 2016. Filed under Trans Progressive. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “The alleged trans voyeur”

  1. Bathroom preditors are easy to deal with, mace then then beat the crap out of them I have done it more than once. Balboa Park is a common place to find the wrong person in the bathroom. You just deal with it, empower yourselves and learn to defend yourselves.

    As for being mentally disabled, I could have took the easy out, therapy and being honest with myself and I am and have been well for well over a quarter century. Curing one’s mental illness usually involves honesty with one’s self.
    Do you have the guts to look in the mirror and admit your own faults that led to your mental illness?

    Liz

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