Luke Schulte is a featured contributor to local San Antonio print and television media. He is an actor, activist, and equality advocate.
Even if I wasn't gay, I'd still be a trans ally. The world needs more understanding, not less.
Recently in Texas, the legislature proposed Senate Bill 6, a law that seeks to require trans men and women to use the public facilities of their biological gender rather than the one with which they identify. Supporters of SB6 argue that the law is a public safety measure; but in reality, it's nothing more than legalized ignorance and intolerance. The last time we designated bathrooms for a subset of the population we considered "less than," it was a civil rights violation. This time is no different.
Coincidentally, the President has recently dissolved the federal protections granted to trans students under Title IX. These protections instructed public schools to allow trans students to use the bathroom designated for their chosen gender. The Departments of Justice and Education have both stated that they intend to review the legalities of the argument. I think it's safe to say that like marriage equality, this issue will have to be decided by SCOTUS; and like marriage equality, even after they rule, states like Texas will try to find ways to obfuscate the law.
Government cannot be in the business of legislating our bodies. Whether you agree with trans rights or not, allowing the government to police bodily functions endangers the rights of every citizen, trans and cis gender alike. If you're concerned about public safety, consider the welfare of a trans man who is forced to use the women's bathroom or a trans woman who is forced to use the men's.
Trans Men Ben (left) & Laith (right)
This is Ben on the left and Laith on the right. Both men are attractive, physically fit and could never be mistaken for women. Both men are trans. Could you imagine the implications of forcing Ben or Laith to use the women's bathroom?
Trans Woman Kelly (center)
This is Kelly, a trans woman from Illinois. Two years ago, she shared a photo which went viral. "You really want me in the same bathroom as your husband," she asked.
Not all trans men and women have undergone surgery or had hormone replacement therapy. Trans men and women, including trans youth, experience varying stages of their transition based on their individual circumstances (socioeconomic status, ability to find trans-supportive healthcare and psychological services, etc.). There is no set timeline. At some point, everyone has to use the bathroom while out in public.
It might be easy for heterosexual, cis gender men and women to dismiss trans men and women as deviants. Growing up, I don't remember meeting or seeing trans people or even learning about what trans was. It wasn't until I was in my twenties, when I started going to gay nightclubs, long after I'd come to terms with my sexuality and puberty had already happened, that I finally made my first trans friend.
The truth is, for a while I thought that being gay meant I was trans. Everyone who teased me for being gay used similar insults. If I was attracted to men, that must mean I secretly want to be a woman. Sadly, I think the ignorance surrounding sexuality and gender identity being two completely separate things still exists, even more so in a conservative, Christian, republican state like Texas which suppresses conversation about sexuality and anything it considers subversive to the similarly-minded, heteronormative.
I support trans rights because I am a human being, because it's the right thing to do. In order for this country to reach its full potential, every citizen has to be enfranchised. Everyone has to feel like the law protects them, rather than feeling as though it isolates them and singles them out, allowing discrimination and intolerance to jeopardize their constitutional rights. Everyone is equal. Everyone means everyone. That's the only way this works.