Trigger Warning: Kinda long post.
I’m guessing a lot of people have heard about the dude in Austin, TX who wanted to get a fancy, ladylike, bra fitting at some upscale (I’m guessing) lingerie store and was asked to use a separate changing room for the comfort and protection of the female customers.
The women working in the store would not participate in this guy’s delusion that he’s a woman, and despite his whimsical hats, eyeliner and precious lady posturing, the sales people immediately identified him as a male.
And in a lingerie shop this male, demanding a bra fitting, gave the female employees pause – and rightly so. Because sometimes, as women, we have to be careful. Most of the time, as women, we have to be careful – especially around men. Also, this was a business where women expect a measure of privacy and where women would prefer not to be subjected to the presence of males.
And yes, this man feels like a woman. Oh, he feels and feels and feels like a woman, but he’s not a woman, and women know this.
And of course, for hurting this man’s feels, for refusing to participate in his ladygame, the store had to issue lengthy apologies, mea culpa upon mea culpa, and for what? For knowing that this person was male, and knowing that their customer base (women and girls) probably didn’t want men there.
So what about women’s feelings? What about women’s right to not have males around when we’re trying on underwear? Are we supposed to just ignore that these men are men, to prioritize their feelings, their delusion even when it’s potentially dangerous for us to do so? What about our rights, as women, to feel safe and comfortable?
When this guy was unable to have his lady-delusions fulfilled to his satisfaction, he took to Twitter and instantly, his visit to the lingerie store was deemed THE GREATEST OUTRAGE EVER. I mean, you would have thought the sales people berated him with obscenities and stoned him. But no, they simply expressed reservations about fitting a man for a bra, and asked him to use a changing room away from the women and girls in the store.
The amount of attention given to this story is absurd, but revealing. And a quick Google search for the incident will return hundreds upon hundreds of articles all with the same bent: “Mean Ladies Won’t Fit Man for Fancy Bra.” The women in this story are vilified, no regard whatsoever given to their concerns, no bit of credence applied to the fact that women have damn good reason to be wary of men – particularly in a lingerie shop.
In no time, The Advocate, which like most (formerly) gay and lesbian publications is now focused on catering to men who think they are women, published an editorial about this event, THE MOST ATROCIOUS OF ALL ATROCITIES.
The link to the article is here: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/07/07/op-ed-lessons-bad-bra-fitting
The best way for me to tackle this bit of – ahem – “journalism,” was to address a few passages from the article that were most laughably insulting, and I have done so below.
1) In response to Kylie’s justifiable outrage, Petticoat Fair at first issued a misguided statement saying that “those who might be or who outwardly appear to be men (regardless of how they are dressed) pose a delicate challenge, and in the case of imposters, can pose a safety risk to the Petticoat Fair staff.”
Let’s start with the claim of “misguided statement.” So, now, it’s a “misguided statement” to suggest men pose a “safety risk” to women? So, now, we live in a world where truths that inconvenience the fragile feelings of men are “misguided statements”? So now our desire, as women, to have a few moments to ourselves, away from servicing men, is simply “misguided”?
2) For now, let’s focus in on the Petticoat Fair incident and talk about breasts. Women have them, transgender women included. You might have heard that 64 percent of women wear the wrong bra size. For transgender women, who are even more afraid of bra fittings than cisgender women, that figure is probably over 90 percent.
OH THE HORROR! Here, once more, we are given a statistic about how men who think they are women suffer more than women – even when it comes to bras. Guess what, fellas? Women have bigger fucking problems than ill-fitting bras. In fact, as a feminist, I’d be hard pressed to think of a less important issue impacting women than “shit, my bra is too tight.”
As a woman, am I supposed to feel sorry for MtT’s because they can’t find bras that comfortably accommodate their male bodies? Is this an issue I’m supposed to care about? Did anyone care about “bra discomfort” before men decided they felt like women and wanted to wear bras? Is this real life?
Also, bra fittings are a (special and expensive) privilege, not a basic human right, FYI.
Cry me a fuckin’ river.
3) If you’re a cisgender woman who’s afraid of a transgender woman in your fitting room, imagine wearing the wrong band size for years. That’s not a pain that anyone with breasts should have to experience.
My lands! I cannot IMAGINE that. I mean, that’s just horrible. That is not a pain that anyone with breasts should have to experience! I really, really can’t imagine. I have had my breasts stabbed with needles for biopsies, had lymph nodes surgically ripped out of my armpit, and have an appointment later this week to have my breasts smashed in a vice – so the discomfort men experience wearing bras really puts my pain, as a woman with breasts, in perspective.
I cannot fathom the intolerable agony of being a dude in an ill-fitting bra. Really, I can’t.
Truth be told, virtually every single woman has had to experience pain far worse than “the wrong band size.” On a daily basis women experience pain – natural and inflicted – that would make most men go pale. And no one is outraged. No major publication is paying it any mind. So forgive me if I have zero sympathy for men in tight bras. And forgive me if this “no one should have to experience” line – in the context of a bra — sounds like laughable melodrama.
4) Requiring a transgender woman to receive genital reassignment surgery in order to be fitted for a bra, then, is like requiring someone to get a knee replacement in order to try on a pair of sunglasses.
I’m guessing this writer did poorly on the analogy section of the GREs. Denying a man from being fitted for a bra by women who are vulnerable to sexual abuse is not akin to requiring that someone have a knee replacement before they try on sunglasses. But way to trivialize women’s concerns, yo.
5) More radically still, not all transgender women want surgery. Some transgender women feel perfectly comfortable with their current genital configuration.
If you’ve embraced your “genital configuration” (i.e. dick), bully for you. That’s great. I’m glad you like your dick. I’m all for people being cool with their bodies, but maybe, just maybe, women don’t want you and your dick in our changing rooms? And maybe, just maybe, those reservations about having you around us while we try on underwear has been validated by thousands of years of chronic sexual misconduct and violence.
As I watch the trans movement unfold in popular culture, I am struck (albeit not surprised) that the loudest voices are those of males who believe themselves female, and that the “successes” of this group rely on consistently invalidating the legitimate concerns of women, of relentlessly violating women’s boundaries (bathrooms, dressing rooms, lesbian organizations), of telling women how they will perceive reality (“You will see me as female, despite my dick”) and what words they will use to name that reality (“calling me male is an act of violence”). These are not the behaviors of females, these are the behaviors of males – violent, self-entitled, narcissistic males.
And at the end of the day, when we frame the “suffering” of these men within the context of women’s suffering, it is trivial and petty.
Tell the girl in India who can’t go to school because she has her period and no access to feminine hygiene products what an injustice it was that this man could not get fitted for a $200 bra at some upscale lingerie store. Tell any woman who has been called a bitch, cunt, whore about how hard it is when people recognize you for the male you are and use the pronoun “he.” Tell any woman who has endured breast cancer about how awful it is that the bra you bought for your store-bought, pharma-induced breasts is uncomfortable. Tell the women who have had their genitals ritualistically mutilated how unfair it is that people recognize your healthy, intact dick as male. Tell the countless women who have been assaulted by men with dicks in bathrooms and dressing rooms how “misguided” their fear is. Tell women about the travesties you have endured.
We might try to keep a straight face.