Dear Savvy Sister: How do I deal with transgender-phobics?

Dear Savvy Sister,

I’m totally with you on the transgender bathroom thing – ridiculous.

My cousin’s wife and another cousin’s fiancee (both conservative and religious) have been very vocal on social media against Target and I was getting more and more pissed about it – especially since the fiancee’s future sister-in-law is in a 30-year lesbian relationship (now finally, a legal marriage) and is so masculine that some people might think she’s transgender. SOOOO irritating!!!!

Anyway, the other one, the wife, really seems to live her life from a place of fear. And I’m just not that way. I don’t get it. What she’s really afraid of, she posted, is that a man who is not transgender will dress up as a woman in order to prey on young girls/women in the ladies’ room. That seemed so crazy and far-fetched to me – until she said she had been sexually assaulted earlier in her life. I then felt like, who am I to judge her fear when I haven’t experienced what she’s lived through? 

swingI would love to hear your thoughts on the sexual predator fear.


Not Afraid

Dear Not Afraid

When my younger sister was about 5 years old, a man driving by the house called her from the yard, and she approached the vehicle, assuming he wanted to ask a question. He reached out and tried to grab her. My sister screamed like a banshee and ran away, drawing the attention of all the neighborhood kids and, of course, prompting my parents to call the police. For a few days, the mothers carefully monitored the children, and we received stern lectures about strange men, cars, and sticking together. The next week, life went on as usual.

Two issues here: The first is the transgender bathroom issue, and how to respond to haters. The second is whether we should live and raise our children from a position of fear. But of course they’re connected.

I unraveled the truth about the bathroom issue last week, and you can reread it now if you need a refresher. The people who agree with the North Carolina law frankly don’t understand it. A transgender man using a women’s restroom, which is what would be required under the law, would wreak absolute havoc and be far more frightening for children. As far as sexual assault, that’s illegal. There’s nothing now to keep a man from dressing up as a woman and using the women’s restroom – unless he’s doing it for illegal purposes, in which case it’s a crime, and he will be arrested.

But it’s hard, if not impossible, to convey these truths to people determined to blindly oppose inclusivity. Believe me, I’ve tried. So I think the best way to handle it is to *hide* these people from your social media feed, post your own position once or maybe twice, just to make it clear, and avoid in-person conversations with them. As for your cousin’s wife, you can disagree with her without judging her, and certainly, being a victim of sexual assault can tint a person’s world view. At the same time, humans have a tremendous capacity for reasoning, assuming we choose to utilize it. Last week, a teenage driver at my kids’ bus stop ran through the bus’ lights and outstretched arms as kids were crossing the street, nearly hit a child, then shot the bird at me as I ran behind his car yelling. In the moment, I hated all teenage drivers. Within the hour, though, I just hated the one. The situation was less serious than a sex crime, but the rationale is the same: you can’t blame whoever you want for the actions of a single perpetrator. It’s just not logical. And – this is the key, Not Afraid – it’s a very sad life for people who do. The fear of sexual predators has become nearly omnipresent among parents. Moms have begun micromanaging their kids, from bathroom habits to playing at the park, when statistically, they should instead be monitoring family gatherings and sleepovers, which is where most child predators find victims. Really. So these children grow up fearful and with an inability to take care of themselves. I hope to the gods my children are never assaulted, but if one falls victim, it won’t be my fault – it will be the fault of the fucker who did it.

Of course you shouldn’t judge your cousin’s wife. She’s having trouble recovering from a horrible ordeal. In fact, I think you should pity her, for she has closed her eyes to a good portion of society’s beauty and extraordinariness. All you can do is pick up her slack, and be extra kind to those she ignores. It’s a big responsibility, but I think you can do it.


the Savvy Sister

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