North Carolina: A trans woman speaks out

The vibrant, diverse community that was Asheville, North Carolina, finds itself under the cloud of discrimination caused by the state's anti-LGBT law. (Photo: Wikipedia)
The vibrant, diverse community that was Asheville, North Carolina, finds itself under the cloud of discrimination caused by the state’s anti-LGBT law. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Brettany Renée Blatchley
LGBT Perspectives North Carolina correspondent

Brettany Renée Blatchley

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina — “Claiming to be a trans woman also doesn’t require dressing as a woman. These days, all you need to do is say you are.”

As a trans woman myself, who interacts with hundreds of trans people and knows many tens of trans women intimately, I would have to disagree with that assertion by people behind North Carolina’s anti-LGBT legislation.

First: who is anyone to say how a woman may dress or not? The range of acceptable dress for women is wide indeed! For people other than the drag and cross-dressing bits of the “transgender umbrella,” this is not about dressing, it’s not even about sex: instead, it is about who we are as people, our core identities.

Next, if someone is confronted and “simply says” they are trans, you must know in this climate that that assertion (at least) will be challenged. People who are not actually transgender will fold quickly under that challenge.

And, it’s highly unlikely that people who are not truly transgender will risk putting themselves into positions where they could be confronted for their gender expression or gender identity, “transtrenders” notwithstanding.

Contrary to what some believe, being seen as trans is almost never seen as a positive thing. This is one reason you see so few transgender people (most of us are invisible to cissexuals, and even other trans folk). In recent years it has only become somewhat less dangerous to be identified as trans, and because we are desperately (and legitimately) trying to be our whole-selves, we are beginning to become more visible to the world at large.

But let’s go back to dress: I don’t know a trans woman who would attempt to use a women’s bathroom or locker room unless they were presenting as a woman themselves. The risk is far FAR too great, and there is NO benefit. Even trans women early in their transitions (when they appear least female) will opt for men’s facilities, EVEN THOUGH they identify as female. I actually did this for months longer than I needed to because I felt my appearance was still too “male,” and I didn’t want to make other women uncomfortable (even though it was dangerous for me to be using men’s facilities! I was beyond the point of being able to “pass” as a man anymore.).

So who wants to risk the ridicule and possible sex-offender record to play games in bathrooms and locker rooms? Hmmm? A criminal might, but then we already have copious laws against people of ANY gender and ANY presentation from harming people in these vulnerable spaces.

I think is it safe to say that the “transgender excuse” will seldom if ever be used as justification by men who wish to intrude into women’s spaces. Straight cis males do not want to be identified as trans, and gay males have no prurient interest in women.

****

Brettany Renée Blatchley has spoken at the Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Commissioners meetings during their HB2 resolution hearings. She will be providing some “first person” reports here.

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