Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Beautiful Spring Sunday Morning

It's hard to believe that this is our fourth spring with this TTF stuff. We started in December of 2004, I remember I was wearing my heavy jacket at the first meeting of the Recall Group, it was cold. They were organizing to recall the school board for voting to adopt a new curriculum that taught about sexual orientation -- oh, they were outraged. I was wearing the jacket I bought in Anchorage, and I asked a question but the train was already rolling down the hillside, or maybe it would be a better metaphor to say the avalanche had already started. Those people had already decided to capitalize on the momentum of the 2004 Bush victory, the "mandate," and they were going to throw out the whole county school board and re-make this place in their image.

So now it is this many years later, and they're still at it. Oh, they lost in the schools, the school district has adopted a new curriculum and thanks to the Recall Group's lawsuit it is actually a more progressive one than the one they initially opposed. Now they're fighting equal rights for transgender people, the same people are against this that were against the public school curriculum.

Today it's cloudy outside, but nice. Did you see the sky last night? When the sun was going down, there was a kind of pinkish light against rough, stormy rain-clouds, just amazing. In our neighborhood it blew over, but I'll bet some people got showers. I think today is going to be nicer.

I heard a a little bit of news about the transgender controversy. Apparently there was a preliminary court date this week. The Alliance Defense Fund was supposed to help out the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever, but it sounds like they forgot to show up. There will be a formal hearing in June, if everything goes as planned. In the meantime, the volunteers are still going through the petitions. They have found thousands of bad signatures on the petitions for the CRW's referendum, there is evidence of fraud, it's not going to be pretty.

The thing is, people are busy, you can confuse them, you can get them to sign something or vote for something if you make it sound a particular way. That's a good short-term strategy, I suppose. And when you're talking about gender identity, you have a lot of people who don't know much about the topic, it's a pretty safe thing that you can confuse the public. Talk about predators in the ladies room and people will be against it. "Religious exemptions?" I don't get that. Why would churches need special permission to discriminate against one particular group of people? Churches need to discriminate? I guess I grew up different from that.

If you're talking about re-legalizing the right to discriminate against transgender people, which is what this referendum is about, you won't find a lot of people in our county who are too excited about that. It is difficult for most of us to imagine that a person we think of as a man feels like a woman or vice versa and wants to change their body to match their subjective experience, but even if we can't understand it we can understand that it's not a trivial decision, it's not something you do on a whim. Somebody goes through serious soul-searching before they make a decision like that, and most of us respect a person's right to make careful decisions about their own life. You won't find Montgomery County voting to allow discrimination against people who have gone through that.

If the CRW is able to get this on the November ballot, it will simply be a question of education. People will need to know what the issue is, really. Men can go into the ladies room legally now, predators and pedophiles can pee in the ladies room if they choose to, there's no law against it. It's always been that way, we don't expect the government to manage our business at that level, and ladies, if you've ever stood in line in the hall waiting while the men's room stalls were empty, you might appreciate this fact. You want to use the men's toilets, go right ahead. You can't stand around checking out the men, you can't flash the men, you can't put your hands on the men, but if you need to pee and there's an empty stall you can use it. Same the other way, guys can use the ladies room if the men's room is out of order or whatever. What kind of crazy person wants a law about that?

The answer is, a person who wants to discriminate against transgender people will want a law regulating use of public restrooms. Because who knows, a lady might not be a lady, a man might not be a man, if you pulled their pants down you might find surprising plumbing. But ... are you going to do that? Who's the weird one there?

These guys have identified a near-zero-probability event, a transitioning transgender person exposing themselves in the showers, and they are trying to use that to make it legal again to discriminate against transgender people. Get real: have you ever seen that, a man in woman's clothing waving his penis around a ladies shower? Have you ever even heard of that?

The fact is, transgender people have a tough way to go. People are uncomfortable with it, they don't understand it, transgender people are the victims of violence very often, and they are discriminated against in a million ways. You can imagine there are uncomfortable moments every day, "pronoun" moments when people don't know what to say, and ... I was standing in a parking lot once talking to a transgender woman, and a car went by, rolled down their window, and shouted out that the person was an "abomination." They must hear that every day, totally needless hateful things said by ignorant people.

To my mind, it's okay to treat people with respect. A person is qualified for a job, they ought to be able to earn a living, is that so hard to accept?

It looks like the sun might be coming out. Our grass has gone crazy over the last week, between the warmth and the rain. I've got a teenage kid, do you think I can find him to get him to mow the yard? Uh, not a chance. Wow, even as I typed those words, the sun came out strong, shadows across the grass. It's a little early for yard sales, but this is the weekend for the Stone Ridge book sale -- if you haven't gone to that I strongly recommend it. They advertise that they have "fourteen miles of books," and that sounds about right. Stone Ridge, on the Pike kind of near White Flint and Strathmore. We go there every year and find amazing books of all kinds. Right now there is an emotional, full-throated violin playing on WPFW, the dog has been out and is sleeping at my feet, I have had half a pot of coffee -- not too much, but just enough. We went out to the Surf Club last night to hear some music, it's very interesting for me to hear the local guys, you know I played music for a living for a long time. I'd say a couple of those guitar players had stolen my licks, but I was way out on the West Coast, I don't know how they did that. Maybe we listened to the same players, I guess I can give them that. There is some good music in the DC area, it's funny how it doesn't escape to the general public outside the region, the rock and country and blues music and the go-go sound, never mind the jazz and bluegrass players. There have been a few but generally this is a black hole where good musicians get stuck, fame doesn't come around here passing out opportunity coupons. It has led to tragedy in some cases, and mere disappointment in others. A few DC-area people have made it in the music business, but it's a tough way to go.

Well, it's time to get this nice day on the road. The DJ just said it's going to rain later and there could even be sleet, I guess springtime is one of those in-between seasons, a day can go either way.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea-not anon
So the other day I'm in Starbucks(ok,I'm there everyday but rarely in one where I need to use the bathroom). There is a guy waiting to use the men's bathroom. I see a woman come out of the women's room and another woman go in, another woman starts waiting- and this guy his still waiting. Then I finish my beverage and go to wait, the woman in front of me goes in and then eventually comes out- and this guy is still waiting. I offer him the opportunity to use the ladies room- it is single person occupancy- he politely but fairly vehemently says no. I tell him I don't mind waiting but he shakes his head. When I finally come out- he is still waiting and basically jumps into the women's room. I know MC won't make a law about bathrooms but in the scary showerhead fantasy world- if there was a law- I would break it if there was an empty men's room and I needed to use the facility. I've used the unisex facility at Mie n yu - and that has 6 or 8 stalls.

April 13, 2008 3:23 PM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Oh my, you're a trouble maker, aren't you Andrea! Too bad channel 7 wasn't there to catch the whole episode on video! (I hope you weren't traumatized by the incident!)



April 14, 2008 9:27 AM  

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