Society is progressive. Not in the political sense, but in that it always moves forward. We address a problem, we learn from it, and we move on to the next one. We're a goddamn freight train of understanding, barreling through one unjust practice after another like they're so many arrogant cows. Or that's the idea, anyway. But sometimes history repeats itself. Like right now, with our treatment of transgender issues, which so closely mirrors past bigotry. We're still trotting out tired old arguments, like ...
6"They'll Ruin Sports!"
Immediately after the International Olympics Committee announced it would no longer discriminate against transgender athletes, the internet's butthole opened wide and a torrent of thinkpieces burst out:
Read: "Women are unfair to women."
Or when MMA fighter Fallon Fox announced that she wanted to compete against other women, upsetting the fourth male lead of NewsRadio:
The Daily Banter
Where is Andy Dick's hot take? That's the real story.
Several MMA fighters and pros have said that Fox shouldn't fight women. The argument is that since trans athletes produce more testosterone (not after surgery) and have mightier skeletons (not really), we shouldn't let them compete with "female-all-along" ones. Sure, that almost makes sense (if you ignore the parentheticals), but it sounds somehow familiar ...
Where We've Heard It Before:
"The integrity of sports" has been used to justify discrimination for a long time. Look no further than the color barrier, which kept talented black athletes from playing in the major leagues until the middle of the 20th Century. Even after they were allowed in, other players would still refuse to play with them -- not because they were racist, of course, but because tradition.
"Them's the rules, nothing we can do about it!" -- the people who make the rules
In baseball, those "traditions" didn't exist until the 1880s, when teams agreed to release all of their black players to appease some loudmouthed racists. A shit-fit thrown by the worst segment of society was enough to keep black players from the major leagues until Jackie Robinson broke the barrier in 1947 ... which, of course, earned him death threats. Good thing that'd never happen these days.
Who could've foreseen ... that the 1940s threats would have more caps?
As recently as the late '80s, respected sports assholes matter-of-factly explained that black people coaching would be unfair to whites, or that they simply lacked the mental "necessities" to be competent managers. While he was at it, that last guy also claimed that there weren't any successful black swimmers -- not due to a lack of opportunities, but "because they don't have the buoyancy."
Adam Pretty/Getty Images, Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
They have even less buoyancy now, with all those medals weighing them down.
Just like those sinister trans people with their extra-heavy skeletons ...
5"This Is Nothing But An Excuse For Perversion!"
Recently, Target made the controversial decision to let customers use their bathrooms rather than explode in the store. You'd think the Book of Revelations had a whole chapter on bathroom policy, based on the reactions:
The Political Insider
Nothing says "Facts ahead!" like a headline with the phrase "Brilliant Meme" in it.
The fear of men suddenly storming into female restrooms for a solid perving session are largely unfounded ... unless we're talking about the ones the conservative groups themselves are sending into ladies' rooms to "prove a [stupid] point." And we shouldn't have to say this, but the overwhelming evidence says that trans people (and LGBTQ+ folks in general) are no more likely to commit sexual assault than the average population.
Where We've Heard It Before:
The idea that putting two different types of people together would result in wanton depravity is one of the oldest, and dumbest, American traditions. For centuries, false accusations of sexual assault were used as justification to lynch or straight-up massacre black people in the United States. And when racial integration finally became a thing, what did detractors assure us would happen next? Rape Town, USA, basically.
Via Alexander Historical Auctions, LLC
Nothing gets out the vote quite like the ol' "Cannibalism in school" platform.
During desegregation, the fear was that sharing bathrooms with black people would result in innocent white girls catching all sorts of STDs. Some even worried that the Equal Rights Amendment might lead to worse perversions, such as (*gasp!*) men and women having to live and work together.
John Hay Library, Brown University
If your bedroom has a toilet in it, having to share space with the opposite sex probably won't come up.
Then again, there are still people who claim that the mere presence of women in certain areas (the workforce, the military, etc.) creates an irresistible temptation to commit sexual assault. One of them is running for president.
"I can barely keep my hands off of my employees, and I'm related to some of them!"
And speaking of that guy ...