It’s a Sunday afternoon and I am walking down a main aisle at Target.
A mother with a shopping cart comes out of an aisle to my right, cutting in front of me, followed by her brood.
As she looks at me, stopped to let her and her family pass, her face freezes while she reads something different about me and then it drops into mommy danger mode.
“Guys!” she calls out urgently, rallying the kids in the face of a suspected predator.
They clear the path in front of me and I move on.
“I don’t know why people get frightened of transwomen,” a therapist said to me years ago.
“If this guy is off the chain enough to wear a dress in public, what else is he capable of?” I answered.
“Oh! Of course that’s it,” she replied.
The bathroom issue isn’t about bathrooms, of course. It’s about keeping the world safe for children by eliminating the scary looking people who arouse parents sense of danger. They can’t find a way to ban transpeople from ever being visible to children, so they work to protect the sacred refuge from guys in dresses.
There is no logical sense to this argument, of course; most predators work very hard to look innocuous. They bottle up their desire rather than trying to show it gracefully in the world, staying mostly hidden like icebergs.
As a transperson, I’m just not supposed to notice this shit. It’s about them and not about me, I know on a thoughtful level.
“I relax by driving fifty miles to an out of town [supermarket] where I wander the aisles dressed as a sexy woman,” goes one joke message to radio host Alan Partridge on the new Mid-Morning Matters. “As I sashay around the store, I can hear people whisper ‘Who the hell is that sexy woman?'”
We know he is a clueless tranny.
But as a woman wo thinks like a mom, I notice. It warns me to stay small, hidden and as nonthreatening as possible. I see when women fall into defense mode, create a barrier, protecting themselves and their families from who knows what.
For visible transpeople, especially transpeople who went through puberty as male, walking in the world is a political act. We are disguised men, capable of all the horror that men are seen to pose in the world, only worse.
I am a phobogenic object. And I hate it.