Discover more from A Hopeless Cynic
Mind Your Own Business
Do you frequently lie awake at night because you can’t stop fretting about the existence of trans people? Do you often find yourself sitting in your darkened kitchen wrapped in a blanket and staring out the window, mind reeling at the thought of a trans person going about their day and everyone just accepting it? If so, consider not doing these things.
After all, you are not required to do them. Nobody is forcing you to think about trans people; in fact, nobody even asked you to think about trans people. You can just as easily pick up a nice book or go to sleep. (If you don’t do these things, congratulations on being a normal person.)
I know, minding your own business is easier said than done. It seems particularly challenging for people with Very Strong Feelings About The Transgenders, as they are overwhelmingly the kind of people who spend so much time thinking about what other people are up to that they no longer have any business of their own to mind. So allow me to put these lingering concerns to rest once and for all.
Doctors shouldn’t be prescribing puberty-blocking hormones!
Anti-trans people often decry the use of puberty-blocking hormones for teens who are questioning their gender. Anti-trans people also often insist that it’s medically irresponsible to provide teenagers with gender-affirming care because “they’re just teenagers, they don’t know what they want!” Would it surprise you to learn that these positions are incompatible?
Once you go through puberty, your biological sex characteristics become more apparent (hairy chest, deeper voice, breasts, what have you); once these characteristics are set, it’s much harder to transition through hormone therapy alone, and patients who transition after puberty often need a lot of plastic surgery in order to align their physical appearance with their gender identity. This process is expensive, not to mention psychologically and physically painful for the patient.
As you may have gleaned from the name, puberty-blocking hormones delay the onset of puberty. So if a prepubescent patient is questioning their gender but isn’t ready to transition (or isn’t even necessarily sure they want to transition), these hormones can be used to buy them more time to make their decision while still ensuring hormone therapy remains a viable option for transitioning, if that’s what they ultimately decide they want to do. If they decide they don’t want to transition, they simply stop taking the hormones and everything will proceed as scheduled. The hormones are a pause button, nothing more.
Now, onto the larger point: why on earth do you care what doctors are prescribing to patients who aren’t you? Are you also opposed to cancer patients receiving chemotherapy because “it’s loaded with chemicals”? I don’t go around town slapping insulin out of people’s hands because I personally don’t need it and therefore they shouldn’t either. The only people who need to give a shit about who’s getting prescribed what are the person who’s writing the prescription and the person who’s taking it. If you’re not either of those people, then shut up.
What if I have to go to the bathroom and there’s a trans person in there?
I’m sorry, what? Why are you even thinking about this?
It’s a public bathroom: you go in, you do your business, you wash your hands and leave. You don’t need to introduce yourself to the group. You don’t have to fire off a few trust falls before you’re allowed to take a shit.
A stranger who is trans is just like any other stranger, by which I mean that the only time you should be concerned about their presence in a bathroom is if you happen to encounter them in your bathroom. In all likelihood, you’ve probably shared a bathroom with at least one trans person before; you just didn’t realize it at the time because why would you, how in the absolute hell would that even come up. That’s a really cute dress and oh, while I have you, what kind of genitalia situation do you have going on? C’mon, we’re all friends here!
Considering how popular this argument is among transphobes, if anyone’s going to be uncomfortable in a public bathroom, it’s probably the trans person. For trans people, using a public bathroom means risking harassment and verbal (or even physical) assault, every single time. For cis people, it means…none of those things. If you just mind your own business, it shouldn’t matter who’s in the bathroom with you.
Well it matters to me!
It shouldn’t! There could be a snake in the toilet about to bite your genitals; why would you spend a second thinking about the possibility that Schrodinger’s Stranger four stalls down might theoretically be trans? That’s psycho behavior!
If the theoretical possibility of a trans person peeing while you’re peeing bothers you that much, then hold it until you get home. Or piss your pants, which would actually be more reasonable than expecting the other 7,937,023,499 people on Earth who are not you to work around your bizarre phobias so you can cop a squat in a Flying J bathroom.
Trans women are a threat to “real” women!
You know what, I hope that toilet snake bites your entire ass off.
I’ve seen this argument a lot on Twitter, usually from British people but also sometimes from American men who call themselves “feminists” (because “date rapist” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it). And, of course, from Graham Linehan, who once had a Twitter account, a TV show, and a wife, and now has none of those things because he simply could not stop bullying trans people online. (A special “fuck off” to the Daily Mail, by the way. ‘E ‘ad a bit of an argie-bargie about who’s a bird an’ who ain’t, and ‘e lost everyfink! Not cricket, that! You and Mister Picasso Eyes deserve each other.)
The “threat” these people warn against typically refers to the threat of sexual assault by trans women; per the tortured logic of transphobes, trans women are really just men, so letting them into women’s bathrooms is the same as letting men in there, and as we all know that means cisgender women are going to be sexually assaulted en masse. Pretty airtight theory, right?
Let’s crunch some numbers here. In 2020, 298,628 women were raped or sexually assaulted in the U.S. According to a recent study, 91% of sexual assault victims knew their attacker, which means of those 298,628 sexual assaults, 26,877 were perpetrated by strangers. In the U.S., 1.4 million adults—or 0.42% of the population—identify as transgender. For the hell of it, let’s assume that the trans population has the same proportion of people who sexually assault strangers as the cisgender population: 26,877 sexual assaults divided by 258,300,000 adults = 0.01%. That means that of the 1.4 million trans people in America, 140 could, statistically, be the kind of people who would sexually assault a stranger.
Now, if we assume the same population split between trans men and trans women as exists in the cisgender population (48.9% men, 51.1% women), that would mean 71 trans women in the entire country are sexual predators. But wait: only 60% of trans women identify as bisexual or gay/lesbian/same-gender, so that means only 42 of those women would be interested in sexually assaulting another woman. That’s one sexual predator per 90,405 square miles—and that’s a generous estimate.
This threat does not exist. Period.
The other argument is that trans women pose an ideological threat to our conception of what it means to be a woman. The people who use it tend to employ feminist theory buzzwords and a liberal sprinkling of medical/scientific lingo to give their arguments a veneer of intellectuality, but you don’t need to bother parsing all that shit for the same reason that you don’t need to learn eugenics to engage in a battle of wits with a white supremacist. The fundamental idea is moronic and bigoted, no matter how much they try to dress it up.
How am I supposed to explain it to my child?!
How do you explain anything to your child? Try “some people are born as boys in a girl’s body, and some people are born as girls in a boy’s body” and see if that does it. Maybe use Pixar’s The Incredibles as a reference or something? I don’t know, you figure it out. Or don’t! How you explain things to your kid is your business. Just don’t use it as an excuse to ruin trans people’s lives, you idiot.
But, but…I don’t like it!
I’ve written about this before: there’s your world, which is carefully curated to be specific to your tastes, and then there’s the world, which is indifferent—if not actively hostile—to your wants. The world is indifferent and rarely behaves the way you think it should, but it’s not supposed to; that’s what your world is for. But when it doesn’t, that doesn’t give you the right to take away other people’s ability to construct their worlds for themselves. If they construct a world you find unappealing, well, guess what? You don’t have to go in there! You’re not invited!
I don’t like Mounds bars, but I still manage to sleep through the night knowing they exist. I don’t like Jared Leto, but I’m not out here calling the cops on people who go to see Morbius. You’re allowed to not like things. Just keep it to yourself.
Late last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to begin investigating all trans children in the state as potential cases of child abuse. In any instance where the child is found to have received gender-affirming medical care (which can range from gender reassignment surgery to receiving puberty-blocking hormones), FPS has been instructed to file charges against their parents.
A 2020 study found that 82% of transgender individuals have considered suicide, and 40% have attempted suicide. Rates of suicide attempts and suicidal ideation are highest among transgender youth, which makes sense: coming out as trans is never easy, but trans adults at least have some measure of control over it. If their friends aren’t receptive to it, they can make new friends; if their loved ones disown them, at least they’re not dependent on those loved ones for things like food and shelter. If they live in an area that is hostile to trans people, they can (hopefully) figure out a way to move somewhere else. (Of course, this is all easier said than done, which is why suicide attempts among transgender adults are nine times higher than among the overall population.
In a 2015 survey, 44% of trans people who are out to most or all of their family reported some form of family rejection. A teenager who is considering coming out as trans has almost a 50/50 chance of being rejected by their family, and unlike trans adults, trans youth are not financially independent; they can’t access the support and resources they need without their parents’ permission; they can’t pack up and try again somewhere else. They’re stuck.
Some trans kids are lucky. They have understanding parents—or parents who, even if they don’t quite understand, at least want their children to be happy and safe and feel supported. (It’s also deeply fucked up that we use the word “lucky” to describe trans kids with supportive parents. That’s like feeling lucky that your parents decided to feed you.) Statistics show that family support can significantly impact a trans person’s life experiences and mental well-being:
Even among trans kids with supportive families, rates of homelessness, serious psychological distress and suicide attempts are still insanely high, and Abbott’s order isn’t going to do anything to improve them. If anything, it will have the opposite effect. (Lauren Theisen at Defector recently wrote an excellent piece about all the tangible ways this affects trans kids in Texas.) Parents are more likely to be punished for supporting their trans children than they are for the actual crime of kicking their trans child out of the house. For trans kids, that means their parents’ support—if they’re fortunate enough to have it—will be marred by the knowledge of what their parents are risking by being supportive. “Maybe everyone would be better off without me” is a lot easier to believe when it could mean saving your parents from going to jail.
Abbott’s order doesn’t just punish kids for being trans, it also punishes anyone who might try to help those kids. Any professional whose job carries a “duty to report” (e.g., healthcare providers, teachers, and so on) is required by law to report trans children who may have received gender-affirming care so FPS can open a child-abuse case against their parents; if they don’t, they can face criminal charges.
And if all that wasn’t bad enough, the order also notes that “there are similar reporting requirements and criminal penalties for members of the general public”; if anyone suspects a trans child isn’t being properly shunned, they can report it and FPS will open an investigation into that child’s parents. That means every run-of-the-mill transphobe now has the power to summon the Gender Stasi and potentially ruin strangers’ lives, based on nothing more than that boy actin’ mighty hinky.
A Texas court granted a temporary restraining order that prevents FPS from continuing its investigation into the families who filed the suit, but it remains to be seen what happens next. Presumably someone will challenge the legality of Abbott’s order, but there’s no telling how the courts might rule on it. But even if Abbott’s order is eventually struck down on constitutional grounds, the message has already been sent to trans people: You are an abomination, and you are not welcome here. We will do everything in our power to punish you and anyone sympathetic to you, and we won’t stop until you’re nothing more than a distasteful memory.
Just yesterday, a sitting member of Congress reiterated that stance, equating trans people with pedophiles:
If you are bothered by the existence of trans people, there’s a simple solution that doesn’t require a full-scale assault on trans people and their right to be who they are. You don’t have to march or organize or call into an AM radio show or pretend Jesse Watters is a person worth listening to. In fact, you can make people’s lives immeasurably better simply by not taking any action at all.
All you have to do is mind your own goddamn business.