Yes indeed, dear readers. Today, there it is : the statement by Governor Baker relative to bathroom usage, that so many of us have waited so long to hear, the waiting whereof has given rise to much froth and growling, a bit of Alinsky, and a plunk of partisan plonk.

Said Baker via his spokesgal Lizzie Guyton : “people should use the restroom they feel comfortable using.”

And with that simple statement, the “#TransBillMA” now becomes the legislature’s work to pass., and pass with all due speed. So that an issue that should never have become an issue can once again not be an issue any longer.

Thank you, Governor Baker !

The flap about where this or that sort of person should pee has definitely puzzled me. How did it become an issue ? In the 13 Massachusetts communities where Baker’s nine word statement are already the law, where a person chooses to pee has given rise to exactly nothing at all. Or, as one county Sheriff in North Carolina — which state adopted a law telling people which bathroom to pee in — said, “:in my 40 years as Sheriff I’ve never heard of an assault in a bathroom by a transgender. It is a non issue.”

So0 how did this non-issue become an issue ? I do not know. I do know that various media and assorted attention-grabbers have taken to warning us about predators masquerading as transgender in order to assault, little girls in bathrooms. How did this illusion gain traction ? Probably by the same route that horror movies grab : by presenting a kind of narrative hypothetical, backed by imagery, that creates a rhetorical reality overtopping the real reality. Nor is this device new. The 1692 witchcraft scare in Salem, that led to the death by hanging of 20 innocents and the imprisonment of hundreds, grew upon a similar hypothetical narrative bolstered by rhetorical imagery. More recently, in the 1980s, the day care child abuse hysteria exhibited the same devices.

People sometimes want to believe the worst. In times of insecurity, all manner of threats take on a life unjustified by facts. Possibility is all that is needed to be heard; facts get pushed aside. And so the spectre of predators masquerading to assault little girls has haunted much of the nation.

A ridiculous spectre it is ! Impersonate a transgender ? Really ? Stop for a while and ponder just how difficult it is to impersonate a transgender person. Those who would attempt it have first to get to know real transgender people. Presumably, the impersonator would have to be able to “pass,” otherwise he’d never get near a girl’s bathroom. But how is someone who knows nothing about how transpeople transition even begin to grasp how to pretend it ? Of course, merely to ask such questions is to go too far; .the people who believe the transgender impersonator bogeyman have no idea what a transgender person is actually like. Thus any spectre will do, no matter how impossible.

Eventually, hypothetical realities are seen for the fakes they are. Witchcraft trials ended in apology, the day care child abuse hysteria made prosecutors look dangerous; the same will be true of the bathroom assault bogeymen. Transgender people will be able to pee where they feel comfortable doing so, and life will go on as it does do despite all the hassle some of us want to tattoo into it.

In the fight to beat back this latest hysteria there have been many heroes besides Governor Baker. Big business has played a key role; so have District Attorneys, police chiefs, sports teams, parents of transgender children. Especially brave and persuasive have been transgender spokespeople themselves; Attorney General Maura Healey made their cause hers, personally as well as politically. And now, the Governor.

This is a good day in Massachusetts.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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