Why Trans Rights Are Just Polite

Civil rights are just being civil

When I walk into a room no one checks my genitals. My existence doesn't require any biological proof and I don't have to 'prove' it through public debate. Sometimes people misgender me on email and I correct them and they say sorry. This is all trans people are asking for. It's not some 'new' category of rights, it's just not being rude. This to me is what trans rights comes down to. Not checking dicks but simply not being a dick. Not being rude.

There's obviously a lot of debate around the trans issue, but to me it's not up for debate at all. It all comes down to the simple act of walking into a room. We don't check gender at the door. We take peoples word for it. Trans rights is thus not some new thing and doesn't require fundamentally rewiring our brains. It is in fact very easy to teach children and is only hard for adults. It's just common courtesy, which is unfortunately uncommon.

The whole burden of biological proof, the requirement to explain away every hypothetical, the argument that this is some big change is all a distraction. All we have is a situation where someone walks into a room, says "hi I'm Miss James" and someone else is like "no you're fucking not, and you can't use the bathroom!" Some people are just being rude, and cloaking their bigotry in demands for endless 'evidence' which will never be satisfied. Politically, of course, this incivility translates to structural and personal violence. Into oppression, rape, murder, and just suffering.

You could say that trans rights is more than just politeness, it changes legal status, it changes society, it changes rules. Yeah, OK, great. Were gender roles so amazing in Victorian England or 1950s America that we should never change them? Of course not, those legal and social rules for men and women were shit and they have been changing forever. What are we even defending here? Changing the moribund idea of fixed gender roles is good for everyone.

Gay marriage made me—a cis dude—more interested in marriage. It enhanced rather than destroyed the insitution. In the same way increasing trans pride has made it possible for me—still a cis dude—to question rigid gender roles in myself and my children. I wear 'girls' clothes or colors now and it's great, I like it. If someone says my son looks like a girl I try to teach him to not be offended at all. Hence the trans struggle for liberation is liberation for everyone.

People are like 'how can we teach our children this?' but this is fundamentally what I want to teach my children. Treat people with respect. Don't be rude. That life is fragile and short, and to not get hung up on appearances. The only thing I really want to teach my children is to be kind. Why would I teach them that kindness stops at a gender role, or a border, or any such invisible knife?