Throwing Tolerance Under the Bus: Anti-Transgender Voices on the Rise

An orange coach is spotted in the streets of Madrid, Spain. A pretty normal sight if it weren’t for the slogan written in one of its sides. “Boys have penises, girls have vulvas. Do not be fooled.” The organization behind this sickening initiative is ultracatholic group Hazte Oír, which translates as “Make yourself heard”. Its president defends its actions pointing their right to freedom of speech. But don’t our rights end when others feelings begin?

What must a transgender girl or boy feel when reading this statement? Because the slogan is aimed at kids and teenagers, who are more vulnerable to social rejection. Psychologic harassment and discrimination can have terrible consequences amongst ‘confused’ youngsters. As reported in the last survey by the British National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), forty percent of the trans individuals sampled said they had attempted suicide in their life. And thirty-nine percent admitted they had experienced “serious psychological distress” in the past year.

Hopefully, thanks to the efforts made by local activists and government, the ‘bus of shame’ has been banned from Spanish roads. Even the president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, representative of the Catholic Church in Spain, criticized the initiative. But instead of giving up, the organization has just changed its message: “Do boys have penis? Do girls have vulvas?” It seems like now they just ask you to wonder yourself about the issue. But their leaflets still will try to convince you that ‘going against nature’ is a blasphemy and a sin. The ideology, although disguised by words, it’s still the same. Just like the Nazis hide their concentration camps behind speeches about unity and national identity.

Although remarkable improvements have been made in the last years on LGBT rights, that ‘T’ –which stands for transgender–, is not a ‘capital letter’ yet. In the UK alone the rate of transphobic hate crimes reported to the police has increased around 170% in the past five years, according to The Independent. Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) still considers being transgender as a mental illness in their global codebook.

At the same time, extreme right-wing movements have been gaining presence in Europe. Figures like Marie Le Pen in France, Norbert Hofer in Austria or Viktor Orban in Hungary are becoming more prominent, often supported by religious organisations –which still have a great power in most countries. Recently, Trump evoked Obama’s guidelines for US schools on transgender kids using toilets according to their sexual identity. Amidst economic and migrant crisis, people are turning their heads to speeches enhancing the fear against those who are different from ‘normal’. It’s easy to blame ‘strangers’ for our problems, instead of doing something about it.

Because, does a penis make a woman less of a human or vice versa? We would solve our society’s biggest problems faster if instead of discriminating our fellow brothers and sisters we fought together against poverty, global warming and war. Because a bus can carry a couple of dozen people, but a planet is made by millions of individuals.

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