You have no doubt come to this article to find out why there is a discussion about bus drivers and rapists. Maybe you haven’t heard about it and want to catch up on the discussion around the issue. You may have come to read a debunking of the false claim that “bus drivers are rapists”.
I think it’s safe to say that most people don’t think bus drivers are rapists. In truth, nobody is accusing bus drivers of being rapists. However if you read something over and over again, the association starts to stick in your brain. Bus driver. Rapist. Bus driver. Rapist. It almost doesn’t matter what else is in the sentence.
“Bus drivers are not rapists”. Bus Driver. Rapist
Even “Bus Drivers catches rapist”. Bus Driver. Rapist.
Eventually bus drivers have to start saying “There is no evidence to support any correlation between bus drivers and rapists”. Bus Driver. Rapist.
Their friends and family have to start to voice their support. “My brother, Bob, is bus driver and he is the most gentle person. He is not a rapist”. Bus Driver. Rapist.
There’s no smoke without fire right? I mean why would all these people be talking about rapist bus drivers if at some level, there wasn’t a little truth in it? Maybe most bus drivers aren’t rapists, but a lot of children do get the bus.
To be clear I am not saying that bus drivers are a danger to children. Bus Drivers. Danger to Children.
I’m writing this hateful nonsense and after five minutes of this drivel I kind of sort of believe it.
This is what transgender women have to go through. It is a constant presence in our lives.
On an almost daily basis, I find myself having to respond to an implicit accusation: “I’m not saying trans women are a danger to women and children, but we need to look out for women’s safety”.
What can I possibly say to that other than “This has nothing to do with trans women. We are no danger to women. We are women”. Trans women. Danger to women.
If I ignore it, then the correlation is still being made by the media and by the anti-trans activists. If I deny it, I am just repeating the words and further increasing the correlation. “There’s no smoke without fire right?”
The more we are forced to deny it, the stronger it seems like there must be something there. Eventually normal and reasonable people can be heard thinking out loud “I know most trans people aren’t a danger to women”. And again, what can I do but say “There is precisely no evidence Trans people are a danger to women. The discussion is about whether a rapist might pretend to be a woman. Trans women are nothing to do with this.”. Trans woman. Rapist.
This week JK Rowling wrote an emotional coming out to the world about her appalling history of being sexually assaulted. Clearly this is abhorrent and I unequivocally condemn it. She then goes on to talk her research about trans people for her crime series. Next about her children’s charity and safeguarding. Then about young girls increasingly transitioning and apparently detransitioning, ruining their fertility, etc. She uses the expression “woman is not a costume”.
What do I do? Should I refute these correlations?
Trans women are not criminals. Trans women. Criminal.
Children do not need safeguarding from trans people. Trans people. Children. Safeguarding.
Nobody is saying being a “woman is a costume”. Woman is a costume
Probably the most significant part of her essay was the following passage:
“So I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman — and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones — then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth”
There are some technical inaccuracies here. For example gender recognition certificates are staggeringly hard to get — the process is long and requires huge amounts of evidence. But let’s suppose for a second that this was the case and if everything she said were technically true, what you take from this paragraph is:
Trans women. Girls and women less safe. Bathrooms. Changing rooms. Man who believes he’s a woman.
Yes, I know that’s not what she said… but it’s also exactly what she said. And you know it.
JK Rowling has made hundreds of millions of pounds from making people suspend their disbelief and taking them on a magical journey. She is masterful at words and understands at a deep and intuitive level how to make people feel things and manipulate them.
By all means — leap to her defense and say “she said nothing wrong about trans women — read her words. And she deserves our sympathy not hate… she was sexually assaulted. But be aware that as a direct consequence of her writing you just said something that included: trans women and sexual assault.
And now I have to say “She was sexually assaulted. That’s awful. This has nothing to do with trans women”. Sexual assault. Trans women. It is utterly exhausting. And humiliating. And just devastatingly unjust. The whole world thinks of us as socially unclean and a dirty underclass. For. absolutely. no. reason.
I am just another human, like you, trying my best to live my life. I am real. I am a trans woman. I am a parent. I am marketing manager. I am a sailor.
Real. Trans woman. Parent. Marketer. Sailor.
— — — — — — — — — —
I have now had multiple messages from bus drivers who have seen the message I am conveying and have taken this in the spirit that it was intended. Someone (who is not a bus driver) on Twitter asked why I picked bus driver. Here are my reasons:
- It was semi random.
- I wanted a profession that was universally understood. If I picked quantity surveyor or financial advisor, I felt that people would spend some of their brain wondering what one of those was.
- It had to feel relatable: As a child I probably said “I want to be a bus driver when I grow up” at some point, and “astronaut” the day after. While I suspect that astronaut is universally understood, I think the writing would have suffered.
- I see them as a broadly helpful group. They have always been kind to me. I have been let on the bus without paying when I have kids with me and shopping bags and fumbling for my purse. They have seen me running and waited. I imagined others had a similar experience, so thought it would be more obviously absurd.
- I wanted a job that didn’t involve one on one contact, but everyone interacts with. When someone is driving a bus, they are in a cubicle and don’t have means to leave without their work stopping, so there’s no physical way it could be true. Again — I was looking for something obviously parody.
- If you’re feeling outraged at this parody, please remember that nobody is saying this horrible bullshit about bus drivers. They are saying it about trans women daily. Are you sure you are outraged about the right thing?