Yep, I’m going on about trans rights again. And I’m a few days late on most of this story to boot. For those of you who are terminally bored with such things, I am putting it all under the fold.
Last week President Obama made a new appointment of a Senior Technical Advisor in the Bureau of Industry and Security. Her name is Amanda Simpson and she has degrees in physics, engineering and business administration, along with 20 years experience as a test pilot. She has also run for political office. Clearly this is a lady with a lot of drive and talent. Just what the US government needs, you might think.
Except that Ms. Simpson is also a post-operative transsexual, and therefore all hell broke loose.
Ms. Simpson is not the first trans person to join the Obama Administration, but she is the first trans woman to do so, and it is trans women who generally bear the brunt of society’s hatred of trans people. Unsurprisingly it was “religious” people who were in the forefront of the queue to condemn the appointment. Here, for example, is the Catholic News Agency suggesting that Simpson only got the job because she is trans, and deliberately insulting her by referring to her as “he” throughout the article. Other “Christian” groups have been equally offensive.
The prize for gut-wrenching stupidity, however, goes to David Letterman. Like many media people, Letterman’s first reaction on hearing of a trans woman in the news was to make fun of her. These days comedians are discouraged from poking fun at ethnic minorities, the disabled, mothers-in-law and all of their other traditional victims, but trans people, particularly trans women, are still regarded as prime targets to be pilloried and laughed at. You can see Letterman’s “joke” here. I won’t have it on my blog.
What makes Letterman’s behavior uniquely offensive is the substance of the “joke” he made. He has one of his staff pretend to have dated Ms. Simpson, not knowing that she was trans. First of all, of course, Ms. Simpson is a well known trans activist who does not make a secret of her past. In addition, and I cannot believe that Letterman did not know this, the supposed discovery that a trans woman is “really” a man is the standard defense used by people accused of murdering them. Up until this year, that defense has proved extremely successful, and many people who committed violent and pre-meditated murders got off lightly as a result. Letterman’s “joke”, therefore, is not just making fun of trans women, it is deliberately encouraging attitudes that lead to their murder, and suggesting that people who do murder them are somehow justified in doing so.
Thankfully there are people like GLAAD who are prepared to make a stand against this sort of thing, but if CBS are anything like the media in the UK then they will just ignore any complaints. After all, with so few disadvantaged people that they are allowed to bully and insult in pursuit of “humor” these days, why should they let trans people off the hook?
Slowly but surely, of course, things are getting better. No US President before Obama would have dared to appoint a trans person to his staff. Brave people like Amanda Simpson are blazing a trail and taking the insults so that others may come after them in relative safely. But it will still be a long time before the bulk of Western society, let alone society in other countries where “religious” bigots hold a tighter grip on the public consciousness, is prepared to treat trans people with any degree of respect or dignity.
And if you think I’m exaggerating here, try this horrific story about a transwoman who, sick and helpless in hospital after being hit by a car, is having her identity erased and gender reassignment treatment reversed, on the instructions of her “caring” family.