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March 24, 2017

Breaking News: A Bigoted Bus and a Transboy in the Boys Room

NEW YORK CITY—Aren't you glad you don't live in Manhattan? (Unless you do live in Manhattan, in which case ... never mind!) Because if you did live in Manhattan, you might be unlucky enough to catch sight of the "Free Speech Bus," pictured above, which has been rolling along the streets after being parked outside the United Nations building, Trump Tower and even in Times Square for a while on Wednesday, with a message that sums up a lot of the problem with some supposed "Christians'" myopic of human sexuality: Boys are boys and girls are girls, and never the twain shall cross because ... "It's Biology!" The bus is the "brain"child of the Madrid-based homophobic pressure group Citizen GO, which describes itself as a "community of active citizens who work together, using online petitions and action alerts as a resource, to defend and promote life, family, and liberty. We work to ensure that those in power respect human dignity and individuals’ rights." (Among those "individual rights" are the "right" to stop people from getting abortions or choosing something other than a "natural end" to life, not to mention a right to "bodily integrity" and a few other homilies which are likely more honored in the breach than the practice.) Citizen GO tried its "Free Speech Bus" stunt in Madrid first, before the City Council had the thing banned, allegedly for "breaching municipal rules on outdoor advertising," but in reality because of fears that it would incite riots in the liberal city. The mayor of Barcelona, where the bus was also scheduled to appear, tweeted, "In Barcelona there is no place for LGBT-phobic buses. We want our children to grow in freedom and without hatred." But then, Spain doesn't have a First Amendment. The slogan on the Madrid bus was a little different than the one roaming Manhattan—"Boys have penises. Girls have vaginas. Don’t be deceived."—but as adult industry members and supporters are already aware, too many Americans are far too sensitive to see words like "penis" and "vagina" on the side of a bus. Anyway, the next logical place to take the hate campaign was the post-Obama United States! And along the way, the bus picked up a couple of more sponsors: the excrable National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which has fought steadily against the legalization of same-sex marriage, and its sister org, the International Organization for the Family, both headed up by one Brian S. Brown, which Huffington Post noted was behind the "Dump Starbucks" campaign because the company had come out in favor of same-sex marriage, which NOM was created to oppose. "Boys are boys and girls are girls; it's very simple," USA Today quoted Brown as saying, regarding the bus tour's purpose and message. "We don't want men in girl's restrooms. We don't want schools and our law attempting to say that people are bigoted simply because they understand that there's a difference between male and female." Brown was a little more honest when he talked to Breitbart News, however. "We’re seeing actual legislation trying to force schools to accept that boys can go into girls’ restrooms—that’s absolute insanity," he said, adding that recognition of transgender people and the claim that they and others like them can and should be allowed to change their sex have created a "mini-industry of medical specialists" who are performing radical surgery on children. "We’re taking young children and essentially mutilating them … this is horrific, and people need to stand up against this." Some voices of reason have also commented on the issue. "I don’t understand at all why putting all people into two, and only two, categories is so important," observed biology professor PZ Myers. "I’ve met many people in my life, and the least interesting way to categorize them is by sex ... I have no plans or interest in having sex with any of them, so no, I don’t care what chromosomes they have (and the funny thing is, most of these people have no idea what their chromosome complement is, anyway), I don’t care what kind of genitals they have (and honestly, most of us don’t see the genitals of 99.9% of the people we interact with), and I definitely don’t want to know what kind of gametes they produce." Some New Yorkers haven't taken too kindly to Brown's sort of bigotry, and yesterday, a couple of activists took spray paint and a hammer to the bus's back section, writing "Trans Rights Now" and "Trans Liberation" above the back wheel, as well as using the hammer to break the windshield and knock some holes in the sides. But repairs are already under way, and the bus is expected to tour the entire United States, hitting the northeast region first—Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island—and eventually, they'll work their way down to New Jersey and ... Pennsylvania, where they'll undoubtedly want to stop at the Boyertown Area High School, just east of Reading. Why? Because the anti-trans crowd will probably want to weigh in on the lawsuit that was filed earlier this week by "Joel Doe" and his guardians against the Boyertown Area School District, its superintendant, and the principal and vice-principal of the high school where Doe is a junior. So what's the problem? Well, according to the complaint filed by the far right-wing legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (a misnomer if there ever was one), "On or about October 31, 2016, Joel Doe began changing in the locker room for PE class, and when he was standing in his underwear about to put his gym clothes on, he suddenly realized there was a member of the opposite sex changing with him in the locker room, who was at the time wearing nothing but shorts and a bra. Joel Doe experienced immediate confusion, embarrassment, humiliation, and loss of dignity upon finding himself in this circumstance and quickly put his clothes on and left the locker room." First, let's be clear: Doe didn't see anyone's genitals except his own in the locker room, but even if he had, so what? Any normal teenager who didn't come from a crazy religious background and had had a decent course in sex education would understand, in contrast to what he might have read on the side of a bus, that not all "Girls are girls ... and always will be," and that in the course of his life, there's always the chance that he will bump into a trans man—and that it's possible to treat a trans man (or trans woman) pretty much the same as he would any other human being—without "confusion, embarrassment, humiliation, and loss of dignity." "Boyertown School District had not informed Joel Doe or his Guardians that despite the words on locker room and restroom doors, they would no longer protect Joel Doe's expectation of privacy from viewing or being viewed by members of the opposite sex when he is present in multi-user private facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms," the complaint states. "The District's directive to Joel Doe was that he must change with students of the opposite sex, and make it as natural as possible, and that anything less would be intolerant and bullying against students who profess a gender identity with the opposite sex." First of all, a transgender man is not a "girl," is not the "opposite sex" from Doe, and the kid's not "profess[ing] a gender identity with the opposite sex"; he is a man to the core of his being, even if his chromosomes, genitalia and gametes may not reflect that. And in order for this lawsuit to be successful, Doe is going to have to prove that he suffered some actual harm by seeing another human being in a bra and shorts. After all, what's the problem? Did Doe get a hard-on right there in the locker room and was embarrassed about it? Was he afraid that someone with a vagina that close was going to attack him and try to rape him? Or, worse, see his weiner and make fun of it? From all reports, none of that ever happened. So what are the "damages"? Well, Doe's ADF attorneys are trying really, really hard to make a case out of this: "The anxiety, embarrassment, and stress he feels as a direct result of Defendants' practice and actions has caused him to refrain from using restrooms as much as possible, stress about when and if he can use a given restroom without running into persons of the opposite sex, and opting to hold his bladder rather than using the school's restroom. This has caused an ever-present distraction throughout the school day, including during class instructional time. Failing to timely void urine has direct and adverse physiological effects, and the Defendants' policy inhibits Joel Doe from timely voiding." That'd be funny if it weren't so sick. So their argument is, because Doe has a warped idea of what constitutes the "opposite sex," rather than seeing a shrink and getting rid of his obsolete notions about sex and gender, better instead to hold his pee-pee in and try to deprive all transgender students of their right to use the facilities corresponding to their gender identity—and if Doe happens to catch a glimpse of a pussy in the "boys room," he should be compensated for that and the school should discriminate against its transgender students? So far, the school district and the other defendants haven't responded to the complaint—but when they do, we'll report on it here.

 
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