Some of my thinking was sparked by this commentary via Media Matters, from Minneapolis radio host Chris Baker. Baker said, in part (I'm only quoting this much - go to Media Matters if you want more of his drivel):
"I would say a majority of the blame does not lie with the nitwit that shot him, other than the fact that he's a nitwit and a guy who should have been in prison in my opinion, who shot him. But to me, this is the -- this is an example of how, by enabling people and trying to push this false reality, leads to horrible crimes like this."
Now, firstly, Baker is clearly a douchebag: murderers are not nitwits, they're people who have committed the ultimate act of violence, and the fact that their victims have lost their lives deserves a little fucking gravity - certainly more than the term "nitwit" encompasses. On top of this, Baker is employing a variation on the "she was asking for it" victim-blaming technique of putting the responsibility for preventing violence onto the person who suffered from it. That's plenty asstastic, but Baker's equally wankeriffic larger premise is that the media's acceptance of a person's chosen gender and its attendant pronouns...makes trans folk bold and confident enough to "go anywhere" and "walk into any party." Because walking into any party is obviously provocation enough to justify murder. Obviously, this is total bullshit.
I believe that anyone, regardless of birth sex or perceived gender presentation, should be able to go anywhere without fear of harassment or violence. Assholes like Chris Baker don't share that belief, and if nothing else illustrates the cultural divide I see in America these days, that fucking does. Here's a hint, Chris: if you're offended by the sight of someone who was born with a penis presenting as someone who doesn't have a penis, that would be YOUR problem. A trans woman getting comfy in her skin? Only bothers people who aren't comfortable in theirs. Or that's my amateur pop-psych theory, anyway.
I personally have experienced gender to be a pretty fucking fluid and slippery thing, and my own feelings and preferences and beliefs about my gender change based on circumstance and mood and a bazillion other conscious and unconscious factors. And at the end of the day, do I think it should really matter? No. Regardless of what genitalia I'm carrying around in my pants, or what I want to do with that genitalia and in whose company I want to do it, or the way I dress or think or behave....I'm still a human being worthy of respect. The fact that I do identify as a woman, and was born into a female body, is just dumb fucking luck, as I see it - and shouldn't get me any special treatment (though, hey, fair treatment I would totally love).
All the trappings of all genders ought to be accessible to anyone interested in enjoying them. Makeup and frilly dresses? Not just for chicks. Ditto for having babies, nurturing, getting emotional, and high heels. Power tools and guzzling beer? Not just for dudes. Ditto for pants and athletic prowess and math and running for President. None of the opportunities in life should be predicated on fitting into gender "norms" or even acknowledging them. The "reality" that Baker's talking about above is not one where trans people are so broadly accepted that they dare to walk around the world unafraid - I'm not trans and I know that ain't the world I'm living in.
The "real" reality I see is that gender is way more complex than human nature's need to fit everything in neat little boxes can handle. I think brains and bodies and spirits and identities come together in lots of variations, not just "male" or "female," and I think it's willfully ignorant to insist that every person sort into one of those two categories, based on how the sex hormones in their mother's womb sorted out their gonads before they were born.
So, today, I am remembering those lost to ignorance and hatred, and I am holding a bright hope for a future where all people of all genders can live peaceably in a world without fear.