Punishable beliefs

Sometimes, I hear, people get reported to their employers for “transphobia” – but what exactly is “transphobia”? And why is it reportable? People don’t get reported to employers for misogyny do they? Not that I ever heard of. There has to be an action. People get reported for sexual harassment, but not for misogyny.

So, puzzling over these ambiguities, I hit the Google machine and found the Cambridge Student Union explanation of what transphobia is.

Transphobia has been defined by the Crown Prosecution Service as “the fear of or a dislike directed towards trans people, or a fear of or dislike directed towards their perceived lifestyle, culture or characteristics, whether or not any specific trans person has that lifestyle or characteristic. The dislike does not have to be so severe as hatred. It is enough that people do something or abstain from doing something because they do not like trans people.”

I still don’t see why that’s something that can be reported to an employer. It describes what’s in people’s heads as opposed to what they do, and how can the contents of our heads be reportable to employers?

As with all other prejudices, transphobia is based on misconceptions and negative stereotypes about a group of people (in this case the trans community or those who are perceived to be trans) that are used to “justify” discrimination, harassment and even hate crimes.

That may be, but that still doesn’t make it reportable in the absence of any action.

But don’t worry, they go on to give examples.

The following are a few examples of transphobic attitudes:

  • The belief/insistence that trans women are not “real women”
  • The belief/insistence that trans men are not “real” men
  • The belief/insistence that non-binary genders are invalid
  • The belief/insistence that transsexual people are gay people in denial and wish to have sex reassignment surgery to attempt to restore ‘heteronormativity’

So it really is a matter of making “beliefs” subject to reporting and presumably sanctions.

What makes that worse is the extreme poverty and flimsiness of ‘not “real women”’ and ‘not “real” men’ and ‘non-binary genders are invalid.’ That’s a caricature of the subject which skips over all the important questions, which are questions which we should all be allowed to ask and discuss. They should not be treated like red-hot stove burners that no one should go near, much less something that should get people punished or fired.

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