By: Nicole Lashomb, Editor-in-Chief—
Maybe you’ve heard of him. The Congressman from South Dakota who thinks its perfectly fine to “inspect” the genitals of transgender high school athletes to be sure they are playing on the “right” team.
Legislator Roger Hunt (R-S.D.) proposed legislation that could require examination of transgender athlete’s genitals. According to Hunt, gender begins at conception and only birth certificates and visual inspections can definitively confirm gender identity.
“This is South Dakota. We haven’t adopted the East Coast culture. We haven’t adopted the West Coast culture. We maintain our own culture,” he said to the Rapid City Journal. [pullquote]How about we take a peek at the Congressman’s penis? I bet he would shy away from it for a thousand different reasons. I’m sure you can probably think of a few. I can too.[/pullquote]
However, the state of South Dakota doesn’t seem to be on Hunt’s side. The High School Activities Association decided to be inclusive of transgender athletes, hence the legislation proposed by Hunt. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. As trans rights or LGBT rights gain momentum, there is always bigoted and heated resistance. That is the face of progress.
Although, what continues to astonish me is the degradation that the transgender community is expected to face concerning their genitals. Some, like the Congressman, expect them to “prove” how much of a man or woman they are at any given moment. Inspection? Are you kidding me? How about we take a peek at the Congressman’s penis? I bet he would shy away from it for a thousand different reasons. I’m sure you can probably think of a few. I can too.
The point is—genitals are not what make someone a man or woman. It is much more complicated than that. No one has a right to expect someone to bare all to prove anything. Unless you are in an intimate relationship with a transgender person, you don’t have a right to ask what their genitals look like or to know what is between their legs. Until we break ourselves of the gender binary, and consider the entire package of the person in front of us, we cannot move forward with a modicum of understanding of what it is to be trans. Instead, we should immerse ourselves in the trans community to learn about their experiences and identities without worrying about genitals. I continue to learn every day. [pullquote]The next time you think about asking a transgender person about their genitals, or even have the audacity to do it, maybe you should remember that what’s fair for one is fair for all. Get ready to bare yours too.[/pullquote]
If you didn’t know a person was trans, would you ask a complete stranger what their genitals look like? Would you ask your grandfather to show you his? How about your boss or co-worker? Of course you wouldn’t do it! It isn’t appropriate in those cases and it isn’t appropriate here either. Another person’s anatomy is not your business. Why should that change if you know a person is transgender? It doesn’t change their gender identity and it shouldn’t change your perception of them.
The next time you think about asking a transgender person about their genitals, or even have the audacity to do it, maybe you should remember that what’s fair for one is fair for all. Get ready to bare yours too. Ready. Set. Go!
*Nicole Lashomb is the Editor-in-Chief of The Rainbow Times. She holds an MBA from Marylhurst University and a Bachelor’s degree in Music from SUNY Potsdam (Crane School of Music). She is an activist and her published work is mostly centered around highlighting the struggles of disenfranchised groups. You can reach her at: [email protected].