If you’re sat in the UK wondering why all the fuss in the US about trans men and women using public loos (or “restrooms” as our transatlantic cousins quaintly call them 🙂 ) then here’s a clue. Its an ad that’s been circulating pretty much since 2008, maybe earlier, and is sponsored by various fundamentalist and far right groups who hate the idea of trans men and women being able to pee without being beaten up:
Its dishonest in every way imaginable. Not least because, and i am guessing here, if the definition of trans is similar to that in the UK, the individual following the girl into the loo wouldn’t get any rights. Because, of course, the individual is clearly not a trans woman living as…
I digress. We all know how little fact there is behind this ad. Its a deliberate, disgraceful, dishonest attempt to associate trans with paedophilia, and very cvleverly touches every hot button going as far as the moral majority is concerned. Not for them the subtleties of debate that goes on within the LGBT world about who belongs in which category, whether categories make sense, essentialism and the like.
As far as they are concerned, trans = man in dress = perversion. There is no difference between species of perverts. So the equation of trans to paedophile is perfectly “reasonable”.
Enough. The above explains perfectly why trans people get beaten up and why hate laws are needed in the US.
The point to David Walliams
However, it also brings to mind two ads i watched a week ago. Yes: just sometimes there is a point to David Walliams, who last week put on a show looking at weird and wacky ads over the last few decades.
Although the programme was mostly giggle-fodder, two ads in particular caught my eye as perfectly matching subsequent memes of bigotry and prejudice.
“Every man is a monster”
The first probably came from my youth and was a UK government info film about paedophiles. Here’s a pic of a monster. If paedophiles all looked like this, we’d know to avoid them. But they don’t. They look like… this man, or this man or this man (cut in a series of pics of perfectly ordinary guys).
Ye-es. I can’t dispute the premise. Its just that in terms of social cohesion and such, the absolutely key message going down was: don’t trust any man. Is that really a good message to be getting out?
“Homosexuality as dangerous mental illness”
The second ad was even more disturbing. It came from the US in the late 50’s/early 60’s and was infomercial about not getting into cars with strangers. Actually probably not top of mind at the time, cause car-sharing used to be far more endemic.
It told the tale of some clean cut all-American kid who gets a lift from an equally respectable looking US citizen. Over several lifts, the guy befriends the kid and then…shock…he apparently buggers him.
OK. That isn’t in the voice-over (this is 60’s america, after all). But the implication was clear.
Yet what disturbed, upset was the denouement. All this happened because the respectable bloke was a “homosexual”. He suffered from a mental illness, which led him to do certain things. And so on.
First is the power of ads! I have no doubt that such advertising, drilled into the brains of a generation of americans contributes directly to subsequent “queer-bashing” and violence. Just as the modern anti-trans ad does exactly the same today.
Second, for those debating whether we trans folk should or should not argue for our “issues” to continue to be considered matters of mental health: well, this ad says it all. If you allow your self to be labelled as mad, then those who hate you will turn it back on you with a vengeance.