Paul Scott, republican candidate for Michigan secretary of state released his platform last week and was kind enough to include transfolks in his agenda. Among his desired changes of immigration restrictions and traceable RFID chips inside state IDs he has included a statement for us trans folks too:
“ I will make it a priority to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance.” -Official Paul Scott Weblog
Now, the average person doesn’t know a thing about trans-related issues in any scope, let alone specific ID policies. So how can such an issue be of public interest? As with all discriminatory smears it is surely a scapegoat to screen the state’s real problems. But out of the potpourri of things that conservative right-wingers hate, why pick on the genderqueers? Honestly, I think that Scott wanted to pick something that would shock people in a “look what the dirty liberal government did behind your back” kind of way. By bringing trans elements to the forefront he is gaining attention via a conservative fear mongering crusade. And with abortion being way overused and therefore unexciting, he had to find something that would appall people more than dead unborn fetuses. Enter transSEXuals, cause they aren’t just out to get fetuses, they’re out to get everyone.
Scott has made statements about his opinions being an issue of “social values”, clearly implying that if you have good values you will agree with him, and if you don’t you are a horrible person contributing to the moral downfall of society. However, Scott goes further to say that his main drive behind policy change is “preventing people who are males genetically from dressing as a woman and going into female bathrooms.” What value system does this relate to other than that anyone who is not normal by specific definition is therefore a violent threat? And because gender is involved sexualization comes into play and turns a genderqueer into an automatic sexual predator. It’s the age old stereotype that men are going to put on dresses just so they can sneak into women’s bathrooms and rape every female in sight… cause that has totally happened before. (FYI never been one report (TransgenderLawCenter, Peeing in Peace)). Promoting this false fear of transfolk attacking women is all part of the bigger picture of society’s default appeal to heterosexist, transphobic attitudes which have no actual standing scientific or otherwise in creating a safe, equal-value based society.
Another reason why Scott’s position is such a great concern is that the secretary of state is the primary government official who deals with issues like document and ID changes. For this reason, among others, having an anti-trans person in that position is clearly more than just problematic. Along with being a human rights and equal treatment and access issue, in many cases a change in documents can be a huge protection from discrimination, threat, and death. Clearly Scott could care less about Midwest transfolk’s right to stay alive.
I’m going to be looking into any activist movements being formed around this issue, as my no being in or from Michigan makes it difficult to head up such a project alone. Here’s hoping there will be updates on progress.