Minnesota Senator Forgets Lesbians Exist

Minnesota Senator Forgets Lesbians Exist July 11, 2015

Have you seen this?

While nondiscrimination ordinances are spotty and don’t apply to the entire country and adoption laws in many states still need to catch up with the recent Supreme Court ruling, the major LGBT rights issue after marriage equality is actually shaping up to be “bathroom bills.” Take a look at this, for instance:

In a lengthy interview on Thursday, Sen. Warren Limmer, Rep. Abigail Whelan, and AM 980 KKMS radio host Paul Ridgeway explained why the trio are pushing for a bill that would bar transgender youth from using school facilities that match their gender and repeal gender-inclusive policies in Minnesota schools. All three said the bill, dubbed the “Bathroom Bill,” will be a major issue in the 2016 legislative session.

Oh yes, barring transgender youth from using the bathrooms that match their gender identity sounds like exactly what the Minnesota legislature should spend its next session focused on. Except not.

Anyway, let’s turn to some highlights from this interview.

Limmer: You brought up Bruce Jenner going through his change surgically, and when you interview him, he’s says, ‘Yes. I’m glad I’m now a quote-unquote woman but I still have the yearnings for women!’ And so think of that type of person, a young person who wants to play on a girls team because he thinks he is more likely going to be a woman in the future and he’s now going to share a locker room.

Ridgeway: Or a shower.

Limmer: On a girls team and if Bruce Jenner still has yearnings for women… so would that young man who thinks he’s a girl in a girls’ locker room…

Ridgeway: Yeah the thing is actually, it’s not only crazy, it’s diabolical.

First of all, being trans has nothing to do with your sexual orientation, so Caitlin Jenner’s interest in women won’t tell you anything about another transwoman’s interest. Speaking of which, note the constant misgendering throughout this interview. But second of all, have Limmer and Ridgeway never heard of lesbians? Currently, lesbians use women’s bathrooms even though they are sexually attracted to other women. Do they not know that?

Perhaps we should divide bathrooms by sexual orientation rather than by gender identity. You get to choose the bathroom of the gender you are not sexually attracted to. (This becomes a bit of a problem for bisexuals.) Or maybe we could, you know, just acknowledge that bathrooms are places where people go to relieve themselves, and not places they go to try out their pickup lines?

Remember Huckabee’s comments of a while back, that he would have used the girls’ locker room in high school so that he could look at all the naked girls if he’d known all he had to do to get there was say he felt like a woman? I honestly feel like these people’s statements say a lot more about them than they do about the transgender people they’re ostensibly talking about. Transgender people live under threat of physical violence. They are constantly misgendered and often harassed. All they want is to be able to use the bathroom in peace. Not so for Limmer or Huckabee, it seems. Frankly, they sound way more like potential sexual predators than Caitlin Jenner does.

Limmer: . . . And the reason I say that is just in Minnesota the State High School League last fall changed their rules and said that if any child — now think of this — a child who thinks that they may be a different gender than they actually were born can play… Let’s say a boy that thinks he’s a girl can play on a girls team. Now that’s in violation of all the rules, on mixing sexes of kids on teams because obviously boys are a little heavier they are a little more muscularity in it. That doesn’t change if you think you are a girl, it just means that you are now allowed to play on girls teams. If you think…

Anyone who thinks boys are going to lie about being girls in order to play on the girls team knows nothing about gender inequities in sports.

Whelan: . . . You know, you have two kids who are going to school together from kindergarten. Now, maybe they are 10 years old and one’s a boy and one’s a girl and we’ll say one of them says, ‘You know what? I no longer feel like a boy. I want to be a girl. Well, now this little girl who was with this child for you know 5 to 6 years is going to the bathroom with him and unfortunately, you know, that girl goes home and says, ‘Mom, dad, I don’t understand’ You know, ‘so and so was a boy and is now a girl, like am I still a girl or am I a boy now? You as a parent have to deal with that and it just… unfortunately it raises a lot of scary questions.

Wait, how are those scary questions? I seriously do not get conservative discomfort with children coming home from school with questions. Just answer their questions! And sure, Whelan would answer that question far differently than I would, but is answering questions really that hard? My parents would have said “Yes, you are still a girl, because that is the way God made you. Your friend is still a boy, because that is how God made him, but there is sin in the world and Satan has given him a spirit of confusion.” Now obviously I completely disagree with this response, and would say something more like this: “You are still a girl if you feel like a girl inside.” And then I would have gone on to talk about what it means to be transgendered, etc. But seriously, how hard is to answer questions? Conservatives should be glad of the teaching opportunity!

“I don’t want my kids going to that school, because they read the kindergarten kids books about having loose teeth, and I don’t want my kid to come home and say, ‘Mom, dad, are my teeth going to start falling out after I turn six?’ These are scary questions!”

Said no one ever.

If you are a parent, answering questions is your job. My son Bobby is at the stage where he points to anything and everything and says “What’s that?” This happens all day every day, over and over and over again, and sometimes it gets annoying but I answer his freaking questions because that is what parents do! Okay, clearly I have entered rant territory here. I’m just really really tired of parents saying “I don’t want my kid learning about X at school because they might come home asking questions.” Like, yes. Yes, they probably will. And your point is?!

Okay, back to the transcript:

Whelan: I know, that brings me back to the the transgender issue real quick. I just wanted to mention, you know, when we look at this issue, the long term effects for example of a transgender operation, when they do studies on it, the suicide rates for those folks increases 20 times.

Can this lie just die already? Please?!

There is a popular myth going around that attempts to quote from this 2003 Swedish study:

Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden

People using this study do so selectively. Let me explain the statistical manipulation going on with gender surgery detractors and the myth they try to construct.

First they note that general population rates for suicidality are around 1.6% in the United States. Then they note that suicidality rates for post-op transsexual people are about 4.1%. They then claim that since this is “hundreds of percent higher” that surgery does not work.

But let’s talk about the reality. What is that reality? It is that the pre-op suicidality rate for transsexuals is 41%!!!

Yes yes, you read that right. And yes yes, conservatives are that dishonest.

Yes, transgender people who have had gender surgery are at increased risk of suicide as compared to the general population. This isn’t surprising given that (a) no gender surgery can remove all dysphoria and (2) transgender people are subject to loads more discrimination and harassment than other people. But conservatives noting this statistic never mention that the suicide rate for transgender people before gender surgery is higher by several orders of magnitude. In other words, gender surgery actually reduces transgender people’s suicide risk by a lot.

This is the absolute height of irresponsibility. I am rarely this angry with people.

Ridgeway: Well, let me just say this too. One of my atheist friend who listens laughed at me, but a pro-gay leader said this whole transgender thing is just the beginning. ‘We have a whole plan’ and everybody was ‘Oh that’s not really, the gays don’t really have a plan.’ Well, yes they do.

And what is this play, pray tell? I need my marching orders!

In all seriousness, I suppose we do have a plan of sorts. We would like to see nondiscrimination ordinances passed across the country so that people cannot be fired for being gay or denied housing for being trans. We would like to see more holistic efforts to help homeless LGBT teens, and LGBT teens in general (banning discredited therapy methods would be a start). We would like to see public schools cut down on antigay bullying, support transgender students, and teach present the human family and human sexuality in its full diversity (in age appropriate ways, of course). We would like to see transgender people have greater access to mental and phsyical healthcare, including gender surgery.

Things we do not plan to do include banning people from holding antigay religious beliefs and putting antigay individuals in prison camps. Got that? Not. In. The. Plan.

Not that I’ve seen any official plan, of course. I’m mostly flying by the seat of my pants here, but I’m fairly sure I’m flying in the right direction—and I’m completely sure that flying in this direction is going to mean making it past state legislators like Limmer and Whelen and radio hosts like Ridgeway.

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