When Protesters Knock Holes in the Free Speech Bus, They Knock Holes in the Truth About Sexuality
My situation was familiar enough: I was waiting for a bus. My circumstances were somewhat unique, though, because I’d been waiting several days.
I was waiting for the “#FreeSpeechBus.” It’s a project of the National Organization for Marriage, along with CitizenGO and the International Organization for the Family. This bus is hard to miss: It’s bright orange, emblazoned with a message calculated to garner attention. Figures of a girl and boy, marked “XX” and “XY,” stand beside the words, “Boys are boys […] Girls are girls … and always will be. It’s biology.”
Aiming to spark renewed discussion over the rush toward transgender rights, the bus launched two Thursdays ago in Manhattan with a small press event. That afternoon, the trip came screeching to a halt. Figuratively, that is: for the bus was parked, when protesters spray-painted the sides with graffiti messages about “trans liberation,” and smashed holes in its windows with a hammer.
Buzzfeed Gets It Wrong
Though little noted Thursday morning, the bus quickly made headlines following the attack. Buzzfeed proclaimed, “This Bus Is On A Road Trip To Convince You That Transgender People Aren’t Real.”
Now, as the representative quoted in that piece, I can surmise the basis for this spurious charge. Asked whether we believe a “trans woman” is a woman, I answered, “No. We believe if you were born a man, you’re a man.” I stand by that. I object, though, to the claim in the headline. The article itself reveals the unfair inference: for I am also cited saying transgender people suffer a disorder. I stand by this as well.
Buzzfeed thinks I deny the “reality” of a class of people because I think they have a disorder. By “reality” they mean a group who must be approved as they are. Of course I believe transgendered people are real. I believe they are due respect and kindness. But I have to reject the notion that a person with male genitalia and a Y chromosome who “identifies” as a woman is, in fact, a woman. That’s what upsets Buzzfeed.
Another point Buzzfeed misconstrued is one of the tour’s key goals. I expressed a hope that people would speak up — to business owners, bosses, public officials — when they feel uncomfortable with persons of the opposite sex using their locker rooms or other intimate facility. I wasn’t calling for a witch hunt, nor declaring open season for bullying.
Compassion For All
I had been asked why we don’t hear many complaints in places where transgender “bathroom bills” have been implemented. I opined that this might have to do with the fact that people are afraid to speak up.
When one is labelled a “hater” or “bigot” for daring to disagree with the trans agenda, it’s small wonder more people don’t complain. As it happens, though, plenty do complain: We just don’t hear about it.
Take, for example, the lawsuit filed last week in Pennsylvania. A high school boy, uncomfortable undressing in front of a female peer who is now allowed to use the boys’ locker-room, approached the administration. They told him to “act natural.” His parents — the school hadn’t told them about the policy, by the way — received the same airy dismissal when they complained.
The Pennsylvania case indicates another aspect of the stilted reporting on our big orange bus. Generally, the press treats our campaign as lacking compassion. But we do have compassion: we just ask it for all involved.
We are compassionate toward those suffering gender dysphoria. But we are also compassionate to that boy in Pennsylvania and the many, many people like him. His concerns — his feelings, privacy, his body image, his struggles through the turbulent time of puberty — are ignored. He doesn’t matter. He is closed-minded and should lighten up, we are told. His needs are brushed aside in favor of his biologically female peer invading his privacy.
She Doesn’t Count Either
The problem’s even worse when a man invades women’s spaces. Here may be a woman suffering trauma: who, because of past victimization from a sexually violent man has a hard enough time disrobing in front of her peers — even in front of a mirror! — who has every right to be uncomfortable with the status quo progressio.
But she doesn’t count either. She, too, is labeled hateful and bigoted if she complains. She, too, should just lighten up. That man isn’t hurting her, we are told — by those who evidently have no idea how trauma works. Yes, in fact, he is.
After a few days, the #FreeSpeechBus got back on its route, and I was aboard. I hope that the advocates of tolerance don’t respond again to an idea with which they disagree by striking it with a hammer. My greater hope is that the bus and its message won’t be missed: because it is a message of simple truth about biology, and of compassion for those whose voices have been lost in this debate.
Joseph Grabowski is the Director of Communications for the National Organization for Marriage.