Last night a truly hateful video appeared on my Facebook timeline. It was originally posted by something called “Highways and Hedges Ministries”, and it is a rant about the evils of transgender restrooms. The man in the video makes several sweeping statements about members of the LGBT community. They are perverts. They are sinners. They are child molesters.
On the one hand, I am upset that I watched this video. I feel sullied by the fact that I spent three minutes of my life listening to this vile rhetoric. On the other hand, maybe it’s good for me to know that there are people out there who actually think this way. I cannot speak up against bigotry and injustice by hiding from it.
I am fortunate enough to live in a country where gay marriage is legal and members of the LGBT community have the same rights as everyone else. The Canadian attitude to LGBT people was highlighted by the fact that when Ontario elected its first openly gay premier, the fact that she is gay did not get more than a passing mention in the media. Nobody made a big deal of it, because we just don’t care whether someone is gay, straight, transgender or anything else. Most Canadians have a live-and-let-live approach to life.
But even here we are not completely immune to bigotry against the LGBT community. Many years ago – I believe I was pregnant with my now 12-year-old son – my husband and I were having lunch with a couple we were friends with. The man told us that as a college student, he and his friends had gone to gay bars to beat up on gay people.
“How do you feel about that now?” we asked, figuring that sometimes people do stupid things when they are young that they later regret.
“Great!” said our friend enthusiastically. “I f*cking hate queers.”
And that was the end of that friendship. Some people very near and dear to my heart are gay. I love them with every ounce of my being, and to my dying day I will defend their right to be treated equally, to live their lives in peace, and to not be targeted by bullies and haters.
The reality, which people like the guy in the video don’t seem to understand or care about, is that LBGT people are far more likely to be the victims of attacks than the perpetrators. According to an extensive study of students in schools across Canada, almost two thirds of LGBT students feel unsafe at school. The places in which they feel the most threatened, where attacks are most likely to happen, are in gender-segregated areas like locker rooms and restrooms.
At the same time, several studies have failed to find any link between child molestation and homosexuality or gender identity. The numbers simply do not bear out the idea that peoples’ kids are going to be molested in transgender restrooms (not to mention the fact that most transgender restrooms are single-occupancy).
In other words, gay and transgendered people have not been fighting for transgender restrooms in a quest to find places to molest children. All they want is a safe place to pee without being attacked themselves.
If you think that is unreasonable, it might be time for you to challenge your ideas about basic human rights.
Note: I deliberately chose not to post a link to the video that prompted this article, because I do not want my website to drive any traffic to it.
By Kirsten Doyle. Picture: Rusty Clark. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.