A Polite Backlash
By Steve David
In case you missed it, intolerance is out of style.
The reveal of Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover reminded people that in most circles publicly denouncing someone because of their identity is no longer acceptable. While there is no shortage of open bigotry to be found on the Internet, the national dialogue has shifted away from obvious antipathy.
Modern prejudice now sports casual indifference among its talking points. This was exemplified recently in an editorial by conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg. Next time you hear or read, “I don’t care what you do with your body, just don’t make me celebrate it,” make sure you know what’s really being said, and read between the lines.
Putting It Out There
Jenner’s photo spread sparked a fascinating debate about inclusion and the politics of trans visibility. The terms of this debate reflect a rich history of thought and action that have steadily advanced the rights of women and LGBT people from suffrage to the sexual revolution and beyond.
Working with coalitions requires a messy process to build inclusive outcomes. These discussions are very different from those that proudly state how much they don’t care what people do with their private lives and bodies.
Not Caring Costs
It’s difficult to understand why Goldberg would take the time to write an opinion by claiming disinterest about Jenner’s choice. When people are apathetic to existence of trans people, they need to recognize the price of invisibility.
To learn more about awareness, advocacy, and equality for the trans community, visit the Trans Awareness Project.
The activists and, for better or worse, celebrities who are pushing trans visibility into the public eye are doing this for a reason. The risk of homicide and suicide are very real in the trans community. The chorus of “I don’t care, just don’t make me see it,” tries to push these people’s lives aside and entrench their status as less-than.
What You Don’t See
Recent data about gay and lesbian people confirms that visibility matters. Nine in 10 Americans now report that they know someone who is gay or lesbian. Having personal relationships is cited as a main reason for the dramatic switch in opinions about marriage equality in recent years.
Coming out has changed hearts and minds. While trans people have faced unique exclusion from both opponents and potential allies, recognition remains a crucial step toward securing the rights that they deserve.
It would be one thing if people did what they said and were content to be left alone with their opinions. But when trans people advocate for discrimination protections, such as access to public accommodations, detractors speak up to maintain their status as second-class citizens.
Either say what you mean, or take your own advice and don’t care. But don’t try and wear your judgments like something they’re not.
Don’t look now, your prejudice is showing.