Last night a friend on Facebook posted an article about the transgender high school senior Lila Perry from a high school in Missouri. Lila had come out as a transgender girl the prior year, and was required to take a gym class for the credits during her tenure at the school. She chose to wait until this year (2015), which was her senior year, so that she could use the correct locker room for her gender, which is of course female. However, due to this many parents threw a fit, and over 150 students walked out of class to protest her using the correct locker room. This issue has been apparently “resolved” and Lila has been bullied out of taking the class at all despite the fact that her using the appropriate locker room would do nothing to harm anyone else at the school in anyway (some parents have said that she might expose her penis to the girls, but I had to take gym class with using the guy’s locker room growing up and that stuff didn’t even happen there with men who love their penises, I’m 100% sure this would be a non issue like the supposed rape of cis women because of trans women using women’s bathrooms); however, not taking the class or being forced to use the men’s locker room would be absolutely detrimental to Lily.
To put this in layman’s terms over 150 students, and their parents bullied a teenage girl into submission for doing absolutely nothing wrong and hurting absolutely no one.
Now, any person with even the least bit of empathy for other human beings would read that last sentence and be abhorred. However, once the fact that Lila is a transgender girl has been revealed, many people change their tune and now, suddenly, the teenage girl is the villain and those students and parents are valiant heroes who were standing up against her oppression and tyranny. At least, this is exactly the song that was sung by a commenter on this article that my friend posted about the subject.
This person came in swinging every single ignorant transphobic argument I have ever heard. He stated that a transgender girl in the girls locker room would be unsafe for the “real girls” because she might flaunt her penis or sexually assault them. He argued that even if not, if anyone was uncomfortable even if there was no penis involved or actual reason to be uncomfortable, that trumped the rights of this transgender girl. When I, and several others, challenged this person on his views he first went on about how transgender people are trying to force our lifestyles on everyone, and this is America where “cis people have rights too, not just trans people.” Then stated that she was sick in the head and needed help, and he knew this because the Bible told him so.
Literally every backwards and completely with out merit argument that cis people ignorant to trans issues use to demonize us was listed by this person in one rather impressive, albeit bigoted go.
Yet, the worst part of it was that when he finally realized that he wasn’t going to convince me or other trans people that he was right, he said that he would “agree to disagree.”
So, what is wrong with him wanting to agree to disagree? After all, people do have the rights to their opinions no matter how backwards, asinine, and baseless they may be.
Well, here is the issue. When under privileged people “agree to disagree” with the privileged majority who is oppressing them, that is consequentially the same as losing. If we look back at slavery, every slave probably disagreed with slavery. Obviously. That system was a horrid system to imprison a human being and force them into servitude for another human being for no other reason than the color of their skin. We know this now. But, at the time, many people, especially in the regions where slavery was legal and in practice, thought it was perfectly fine, and even benefited from slavery.
Of course slaves I’m sure were not allowed to speak back to or argue with their “masters” with out facing extreme punishment, but if they were or if a free person who was against slavery were to argue on their behalf, the conversation would have probably gone similarly. The pro slavery party would make up arguments of why slavery is a good thing with no basis in reality, and be faced with facts by their opposition of why slavery is a bad thing. But, with no legal recourse to be taken, in the end if that slave owner decided to “agree to disagree” the slaves would still be slaves and nothing would change.
This is exactly what happened to me last night, and what is happening to many people who are a member of an underprivileged group all over the world. Whether it be from the way Saudi Arabian men make every decision for their women and decide their rights to the #BlackLivesMatter movement closer to home, oppressed people are simply flung away by the privileged majority when they become an inconvenience, and since these people don’t have proper representation in government or raw numbers, there is little they can do about it. In fact, this treatment is why #BlackLivesMatter started in the first place because black people are being murdered by police, and in general as well, and often treated like second class citizens and the majority when asked to help ignored their pleas.
That is what happens. If someone else’s problem is not important to the majority, or seen as an inconvenience to them like a trans girl wanting to use the right locker room or black people wanting police to be held accountable for killing unarmed black people, the majority doesn’t have to fight it. They are the majority. They win by default if it becomes a stalemate, because they hold the power and in any stalemate nothing will change meaning that the oppressed will lose and suffer for it.
This is of course utterly and completely frustrating. The feeling of seeing members of a group you belong to suffer and be oppressed simply because they are a member of that group is the epitome of frustration. Living in a world that is often against oneself and being whisked off to the side like a neglected dog begging for a walk while its master is watching the game when important issues are brought up is physically painful. I’m not exaggerating with that. The frustration I feel in these situations actually hurts in my chest, and there is little I can do about it.
Of course that does not mean that oppressed people should give up because no one will ever listen or care. There are those who do listen and care, people who are true allies. And, oppressed people have made change over time, sometimes very quickly. But, such change can not easily come when one side refuses to play the game.