The Coming Wave Of Oppositional Sexist Panic
Jos at Feministing has the story of the football player in Mississippi thrown off the squad for wearing pink cleats. He was wearing them for breast cancer awareness, not for gender nonconformity, and to most of us this reaction makes no sense.
Get used to it. This battle has already started.
Remember when a high school wouldn’t let Constance McMillen take her girlfriend to the prom? One of the less reported aspects of the story is that the school originally offered to let her take her girlfriend if she wore a dress and if they didn’t arrive together. Of course, she wanted to make an entrance with her girlfriend, like first class citizens. And she wanted to wear a tux. An even less reported aspect of the story is that the same school ran Juin Baize out of town on a rail, basically. Juin, at the time of the story, used male pronouns, but he dressed in traditionally female clothes, wore makeup and presented as gendervariant. He was suspended on his first day of attendance, and in the spot on the form where the school was supposed to say why, they did not provide any explanation. The ACLU sued, but when his grandmother kicked the whole family out they moved out of the district and the suit was dropped.
New anti-bullying laws sometimes contain not just sexual orientation but gender expression. As I and others point out, sexual orientation protections are not much protection if they don’t also cover gender expression: “oh, he didn’t beat you up because you’re gay, he beat you up because you’re effeminate. Under the statute, we don’t have any obligation to protect you from that!” So good antibullying statutes, and good antidiscrimination laws, should include gender expression. Transphobes are terrified, because they know this makes the world safer for trans and gendervariant folks.
Some people see the world as they know it slipping away. They see a world coming where society doesn’t effectively enforce a bright line between masculinity and femininity, or force men for be masculine and women to be feminine. A world where someone assigned male at birth can wear a judge’s robes as a woman and someone assigned female at birth can take the basketball court as a man, and maybe even a world where people can operate in their daily lives without having to check a box. Something as small as a football player in pink cleats will send them into a swoon, and then paroxysms of rage. They’ll act like they’re fighting the last ditch effort to protect the world they know.
They are correct. They’re fighting to protect the world they know, the world of oppositional sexism (see here), where there are fixed, binary, opposite gender roles; where gender conformity is mandatory and violently policed. That’s what they’re fighting for, and they’re losing. They will lose. They will lose because, as Rev. Dr. M.L. King said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”