More Paranoid Locker Room Fantasies

Read the earlier published Paranoid Locker Room Fantasies

I wrote an earlier piece addressing the fantasies of men who have given a lot of consideration to why they would like to go into women’s spaces pretending to be women. Seeing girls changing or showering without them being aware is a sex comedy trope after all. What red blooded male would not appreciate the opportunity to shower with the co-eds (or at least catch a glimpse of them though some secret hole or video camera — looking at you loveable underdog Tri-Lambda Nerds). Most of the objection to trans women in these spaces boil down, however, to a

Penis in the Women’s Room

These were the objections of liberal hypothetical fathers (“I have no problem with transgenders so long as they know their place”) and conservative fellows as well (“I wish I could have decided to be a girl on any given day to see naughty girlie bits”). But they all wanted to protect their womenfolk from catching sight of a penis, especially one attached to a person identifying as trans or pretending to be trans (for how does one really know the difference.

But it’s not just an argument made by would-be overprotective dads, it also comes from cis women who have heard that some trans activists are using angry language to assault traditional cis women language and spaces and feel that they are losing rights at the expense of trans women, including the right to exist in a penis-free space because if a pre-op/non-op trans woman enters a women’s space such as a bathroom or locker room, the cis woman might be exposed to the dreaded

Penis in the Women’s Room

I don’t mean to make light of this…much. I do get the anxiety some might feel at such a thing and I know when it might cause a serious reaction. I know that I have no interest in seeing penises in any space. I am happy to no longer be possessed of one in that I no longer have to deal with seeing one every day. I promise you this was very traumatic for me.

Oh, and I don’t see all cis women who make these arguments as TERFS (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) just as I don’t see the majority of men who make similar arguments as transphobic. I think these words and modifiers get applied to anyone who wants to have a discussion or debate about trans related topics who takes a contrary view to the current established dogma. Not every cis woman who wants to talk about these issues and isn’t always PC is a TERF, which is a pejorative that should only be applied to a very minor fringe element. It should also not be applied to anyone who is not actually a radical feminist. (Here’s a quick primer). Whenever I see a trans person label a cis woman as a TERF, it bothers me because it shuts down the conversation and often results in pushing a woman away who should not have been pushed. It’s lazy.

And I’m not saying we always have to take the high ground. Far from it. But it’s a shitty rhetorical tactic to smear others with an inappropriate label.

Back the to issue at hand

Let me be honest about this. If I were in a locker room and a trans woman walked through totally naked with an exposed penis, I’d have questions for that person because to me, that would be political statement more than anything and I tend to think there is a time and a place for that. Plus, really? It just seems insensitive and exhibitionist. Again, only coming from my experience, so much is done to hide the penis (tucking, gaffs, duct tape, prosthetics, etc.) when clothed so that others don’t know one is there that it mystifies me that someone would shamelessly let it dangle in a space where, given the amount that has been said and written on the subject, is most likely to cause distress in others, me included.

Because for me, it creates a dangerous environment because even if I am not possessed of a penis, I am trans and as likely to suffer backlash.

So I guess my question to the cis women who express feelings of oppression from trans women is this:

Is the Penis in the Women’s Locker Room hypothetical or have you experienced it first hand?

I can tell you I have not, in my experience in locker rooms. I tend to find that the evidence of this happening is minimal and while it has been documented, it is too rare to make an issue about, at least the kind that seems to be used to incite cis women to feel oppressed by trans women.

And you might say that my writing this is a form of oppression, that I am attempting to negate the right of cis women to express themselves.

And so then all attempts to talk about this are oppressive because trans women feel nothing but oppressed as do cis women, and rightfully so and I can see where some might feel they are being denied voice or negated. I try to make it a point to understand all sides.

“There is no good or bad but thinking makes it so.” -Hamlet

Anger is easy. Tolerance is also easy. Understanding and acceptance is hard. Empathy is incredibly hard because it requires work. Most people just default to apathy.

Most people do not get trans at all because you cannot really get what it means to be trans if you are not. Conversely, trans people don’t really get cis because as much as we are exposed to cis society and lives, we do not really know what it means to be cis. I can only do cisgender thought experiments and they fail because I will never really know what it is like. My life is only an approximation.

I do know what being a woman is because I am one. It is not a game or a whim. It is simply my life and the fact that I have to say it is a fact that a cis woman will never understand in the way that a trans woman cannot entirely empathize with a cis woman’s lived experience or a white person cannot understand what it means to be a person of color. These different experiences are the reasons we have categories and labels. They provide simple signifiers so that in many cases, we can dignify one another and in too many other cases, we can tear them down.

The tragedy of the Penis in the Women’s Room debate is that it is entirely reactionary. A trans woman can argue forever that she only wishes to be allowed exist as the woman she is and it will never matter to the cis woman who can only see a Penis and therefore feels violated. My take may seem to favor the trans woman’s side and I may even claim that it is entirely rational and not reactionary except to say that when the cis woman reduces a trans woman to simply being a Penis, I can only be reactionary. I cannot empathize with what she is saying because she leads with the negation of my existence as other than a symbolic appendage (that I no longer even have).

So it goes…