In 2015, the LGBTQ community solved all its problems with the adoption of marriage equality; the fight having been finished, many activist organizations chose to disband. Of course, the fight for equality is not over. The impressive array of institutions which had struggled for years to maintain anti-queer discrimination, even against the changing mores of a modernizing society, did not just disappear. What they have instead done is focus all that well-funded hate and reactionary rage at a new, more easily demonizable minority: trans people.


It’s a wonderful time to be trans.


These bills are all built on the underlying lie that trans women are men, and thus in demanding our identity be recognized we are leaving open a door for sexual predators to molest your daughters.


Which, I have a few objections! For one, if you believe this you probably have fucked up definitions of gender which deny my female identity. You know what? You get to keep those! I would like for you to expand your mind to understand me, but I am not demanding you change it. Think what you like; I just want to be treated with a base level of respect. I’m asking for a change in outward conduct, not in inward belief. I play nice with people I don’t approve of all the time in life; it’s not all that unreasonable a request!


Part of that basic respect means cis people letting folk like me go to the bathroom in peace. Now, I’ve personally been paranoid in bathrooms since I came out, because the most terrifying people in bathrooms are the cis ones who might clock me as trans and try to jam up my life. But there reason there is no example of a trans person behaving in a predatory fashion in bathrooms is because bathrooms are a notoriously dangerous place for trans people. The last thing you want to do is draw more attention to yourself in them!


Side Note: I have used the word cis in the paragraph above, and I will be using it again throughout this piece. For those unfamiliar with trans lingo, cis is short for cisgender like trans is short for transgender… and cisgender just means “not trans.” Some people think cis is a slur. Those people are wrong. It would be like saying white or male was a slur; just because an identity is considered default and invisible to most does not mean that naming it is slander. End lemma.


Not that a counter-example would be grounds for fucking over all folks like me, but this attack isn’t even a little based in reality. It’s based in stereotype, innuendo, and the propagation of a meme by a bunch of really skeevy dudes (like Huckabee and other Fox News talking heads) who would apparently have tried to pretend to be trans to see some nudity when they were kids. Projection much?


It’s absurd, but it’s part of a dedicated five-part lobbying plan by the anti-gay organizations whose mandate was threatening to dry up after marriage equality was adopted. It’s a rather straight-forward scheme to demonize trans people and drive us out of the public forum, and it’s utterly vile. The five steps in question are:


  1. States and the federal government should not allow legal gender marker changes.
  2. Transgender people should not have any legal protections against discrimination, nor should anyone be forced to respect their identity.
  3. Transgender people should not be legally allowed to use facilities in accordance with their gender identity.
  4. Medical coverage related to transition should not be provided by the government, or any other entity.
  5. Transgender people should not be allowed to serve in the military.


They’re literally fighting against having to respect people like me. I’ve been out my entire adult life, but it’s not enough that everyone who supports these campaigns of hatred thinks less of me for having the good fortune to be born trans… they’re fighting for government support should they throw that hatred back in my face. And, just in case they would otherwise miss an opportunity to remind me that I’m hated, they want to make sure that none of my documentation checks out, that I am humiliated in public by being forced into a bathroom in which I am at significant risk of assault myself, and that I receive even worse healthcare than I already do.


It’s pretty brutal. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get to me, particularly when people are trumpeting shows like Transparent and movies like the Danish Girl as being major positive advances. If you want to know why so many people are convinced that trans women like me are just dudes trying to trick people, maybe look at the Best Dude awards given to these very masculine actor fucks and start to see how, if all you see are these images plastered across the city and this guy’s nomination at an awards show, you might end up confused about what trans people are really like.


(We’re really like any other person, just more likely to bear scars from the shitty ways cis panic manifests around our lives.)


North Carolina recently passed one of these awful laws in a day-long special legislative session. Thanks GOP! They hate people like me so much that they spent thousands of taxpayer dollars just so they could dick me over sooner than their regular legislative schedule would otherwise allow. A one-day special session was more than sufficient for them to balance the risk (nonexistent) against the harm (mostly to trans people, but false positives are going to hurt a lot of cis folk too); I want to say something cutting about such an obvious dereliction of duty, but it’s not exactly surprising to know that all those public servants went into the process with the outcome predetermined.


Luckily, the rest of the country is a lot less disposed to support such a terrible law. That’s why this week we’ve seen: Bruce Springsteen cancel a concert, Paypal stop plans to open a new operation center in the state, and the state and local government of many liberal municipalities ban travel to North Carolina on the company dime. Among many, many, many other expressions of national shame at a law that calls for a potty police force.


But do you know what business has kept on with their North Carolinian plans? Hasbro-entity Wizards of the Coast. You see, NC has a GP at the end of month. It’s one of those rare Modern GPs, a format I would totally go to a Grand Prix to play. But I can’t! Because I’m not going to risk arrest in a convention center bathroom to play with cards. And in that I’m not alone.


My objection with Habro-owned Wizards of the Coast is not that they are continuing with the event; plenty of money has already been sunk into that event, on the personal and professional levels (though I feel for trans judges), and I wouldn’t want the exhibitor to take an unnecessary hit for factors out of their control. But it would be nice, in a time where some gigantic names can be assed enough to take a public stand, for Hasbro-subsidiary Wizards of the Coast to do three things:


  1. Put out a public statement acknowledging the way in which this type of law locks trans folk out of coming to states that choose this path (since these laws are spreading);
  2. Issue clear guidance for trans people and organizers alike standardizing a response in cases where Magic players are hassled about this shit at an event; and
  3. Commit to not scheduling further events in states with these types of laws on the book.


In the absence of these steps, I have a legitimate (and reasonable!) concern that the next time something like Stefano’s ridiculously inappropriate security experience happens, it will be a trans person at the center of it. Stefano’s experience hinged on a lot of different players letting common decency slip out of the conversation due to confusion over who was responsible for what; in codifying these policies, Hasbro-acquisition Wizards of the Coast would minimize the risk that the next time they show up in the headlines, it is because one of their players was jailed for using the correct bathroom.


What I want is a promise of safe conduct at Magic the Gathering tournament events. I want to know that should something bad happen I can trust that someone from Wizards of the Coast, a Hasbro company, will use what power they have over the venue and the event coordination team to make it better for the trans person who got fucked over by geographic variance in how much they hate us. This is especially true given that the most high-profile trans people at any Grand Prix event are the judge staff; will they be sure that Wizards not only is willing to back them up, but also knows how to do it?


In short, I want to know that this pastime, to which I devote far too much time, money, and emotional energy, will continue to be welcoming to the disproportionate number of folk like me who flock to it. Is this really such an unreasonable request!? Keep your beliefs; I just want to be able to participate in the public sphere without random harassment based on a core element of who I am.


In that, I’m just like you.


Jess Stirba is pretty sure people trying to drive women like her out of public would kill, deport, or otherwise disappear her and everyone like her were they were given the authority to do so without legal consequence.


Edited to add: Since writing this post, the coward governor of North Carolina, who had a choice to veto or otherwise not support this ridiculously undemocratic hate bill, has issued an executive order about trans people. It does not resolve ANY of these issues. Giving employment discrimination protections to the two(ish) trans workers in the North Carolina state government (like, seriously how many could there be) does nothing to make bathrooms safer for trans people. It is a fig leaf attempting to staunch the wound they have inflicted upon the state economy, and perhaps it will even work as such. But make no mistake… North Carolina is still not safe for trans people. And until it is safe again for trans people, Wizards shouldn’t be scheduling events there.

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