Published: June 22, 2011
I read with keen interest “Transgender Gap” (The Queer Issue, June 15), which addressed the Maryland gender-identity legislation. I supported HB 235 because I have friends who are trans and who are impacted by irrational discrimination. Although I supported HB 235, I have long questioned the definition of gender identity in this bill and others like it. Additionally, HB 235 avoided the thorny issue of public accommodations by excluding them. If Maryland will consider a bill that includes public accommodations in 2012, bill proponents will have difficulty if they do not address why we have sex-segregated facilities in the first instance.
Females rationally discriminate in some instances because of our biology, and Maryland has installed protections based on such rational discrimination into the Maryland human relations title. Specifically, the law allows, with regard to public accommodations, sex-based discrimination by a facility 1) uniquely private and personal in nature, and 2) designed to accommodate only a particular sex. This exception to the antidiscrimination law for public accommodations covers all space segregated by sex, including bathrooms, locker rooms, and public showers.
I do not believe that any transwoman is especially likely to harm females. However, males as a class harm females as a class based on female biology (i.e., rape, sexual violence, harm from unwanted pregnancy). Stating this does not mean I think any individual male is more likely to harm females. It is a general statement that simply recognizes the harm that can come to females because of our biology. Accordingly, gender-identity advocates must ensure that protections for transwomen don’t inadvertently render protections for females moot.
The current definition of “gender identity” does not protect females. Rather, it incorporates stereotypes about males and females into law and allows anyone—including nontrans people—to assert a “gender identity” claim to invade all space segregated by sex. The current definition— “gender identity” as a “gender-related identity or appearance of an individual regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth” —has no objective standard and would allow all males—including registered sex offenders, men subject to domestic violence orders of protection, and other bad actors—to assert “gender identity” as a means to invade female-only space and have a legal basis for being there, without being questioned. How is this a good result for females, and why should females support this?
We need a narrow, objective definition of “gender identity” that limits the ability of people to assert the protection to only the group we want to protect: trans people. And before you ask, I am unconcerned about FTMs as a class, because if they want to enter male spaces and put themselves at potential risk by doing so, that’s their choice. I have no interest in limiting the choices of FTMs. However, females have a vested interest in a narrow definition of “gender identity” to preserve our rational sex-based protections. We can strike a balance here—let’s do it.
No One Is Absolved
I thought that I could read the aggrieved letters regarding the Eat Me article about the author slaughtering her first chicken and see it objectively (“It’s Still Killing,” The Mail, June 8). Seems I can’t. As a person who cannot wait to get my first backyard flock, I figured that I had to play devil’s advocate.
For the first respondent, I have to applaud your disdain for hipster dumbasses who think themselves so superior for riding fixed-gear bikes. Kudos. But it is ironic that you mock them, given that your own “holier than thou” attitude regarding this article is a branch on the same smug self-satisfaction tree that fuels fixed-gear nonsense. Moreover it is the same impetus for this type of preachy vegetarianism. ( I won’t mention that other type of vegetarianism. I prefer to call it the extremism that it is.)
I was a vegetarian for two years, for all of the wrong reasons I’ll be the first to admit, but love makes us do all kinds of things. I never preached to anyone about anything, because humanity has far surpassed its origins and, yes, even smug chicken-bastard vegetarians help exploit the world. You can pat yourselves on the back until your elbows separate, but you help fuck up the world along with the rest of us. You can think you are away from agribusiness, but you are as much a part as any other American, even if you shop at Whole Paycheck. No one is absolved.
None of you have the faintest idea of the complexity of the plant life whose virtues you so extol as the perfect comestible. The first circulatory system didn’t originate within animals, it started as photosynthesis. Yet you lot would shudder to think of broccoli and spinach as worth saving. I guess that they’d have to have be cute to think about in those terms. But your lot wants to give yourselves credit for only hurting the smaller, creepy-crawly aspects of the animal kingdom, such as plants, invertebrates, and small mammals. Yet none of you think about these creatures for the important roles they play in the everyday business of plant growth.
I suppose that a pair of soft brown eyes is requisite to be thought of as sentient and purposeful. Not the full, chlorophyll-laden, oxygen-producing leaves, whose lives and roles vegetarians like yourselves devalue and upon whom ALL of us depend. If more people raised their meat and dispatched it accordingly, I guarantee you that meat-eating would drop, not through self-righteousness. Your preachy nonsense will only serve to solidify the positions of carnivores. I know it did for me.
Alvin Lee III
P.S. I ask you two the question I always mean to ask tight-assed, preachy vegetarians. What would you do with the VAST number of animals being raised for food if you could have your way and be rid of meat-eating altogether? No answer? Nothing? That’s what I thought!
Correction: The Baltimore Pride event Fashion Alley was mistakenly listed as occurring on Friday, June 17, instead of Thursday, June 16, in the print edition of our Pride Guide (June 15). City Paper regrets the error.