Guest post: Just a feeling and not something you can see

Originally a comment by Artymorty on Decrease is a symptom of the thing decreased.

Did you see today’s article in the New Yorker by Masha Gessen about trans rights and the Supreme Court?

I greatly admire her writing about Russian politics and gay rights, but I think she’s very wrong about bathrooms and trans rights.

I became a journalist at a time when one was not supposed to cover issues that concerned one personally. The (very few) black reporters working in the mainstream media were not assigned to write about the civil-rights movement. Women were not assigned to stories on feminism. The handful of openly gay reporters were not allowed to write about gay-and-lesbian rights or the aids epidemic. The underlying logic of this approach was that reasonable people could disagree on issues that people with a stake in the outcome would be unable to cover in a fair and balanced manner.

And yet she’s doing exactly that — not covering this issue in a fair and balanced manner.

She identifies as non-binary (like so many butch lesbians do these days), so she sees the whole debate in terms of her ability to feel comfortable using a men’s washroom despite her having been “assigned” (ugh) female at birth.

For all her defense of trans people’s right to use the washroom of their choice, she didn’t even try to define who exactly counts as a genuine trans person, how gender non-conforming a man has to be in order to be permitted to use a women’s washroom, or what mechanism we could use in practice and in law to distinguish men from transwomen, since trans is not the same as gender-non-conforming: trans is just a feeling and not something you can see, and many men who claim the label aren’t all that gender non-conforming at all.

Masha Gessen may look and dress in a way that’s perceived as more male than female, and Laverne Cox may look for all intents and purposes like a biological female, but following right behind her through the door to the women’s loo are six hulking middle-aged men with an erotic fetish for penetrating into women’s private spaces.

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