For the past couple months (until I fractured my right foot last week), I’ve been watching Orange is the New Black while exercising on my elliptical trainer. I read the Piper Kerman’s Memoir a year ago and didn’t have much hope for a TV show based on a book that I considered to be void of much conflict and more of an essay on the failings of the US prison system and the harshness of mandatory drug sentencing.
But the television program is superb. The characters are complex, nuanced and crazy, and the actors that play these characters bring them to life. One of my favorite characters is Sophia Burset. Sophia is a transgender woman who maxed out credit cards to pay for her surgery. She has to come to terms with watching her son grow up and her wife fall in love with another man. Sophia is played by Laverne Cox, a transgender actress. Ms. Cox was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.
Now I admit that I’m confused by people who are transgender. I’m gay, and it’s taken me a while to accept myself for who I am. I understand that women can find other women attractive because I have several friends who are lesbian, and you can tell that they love each other as much as my husband and I love each other. But I don’t know anyone who is transgender. When I was younger, I used to fantasize about being a woman, a blonde head cheerleader with big boobs, but that was only because it was the only way that I could ever imagine being able to have sex with a football player (thank you Mike Sams for changing all that). But I never wanted to be a woman. I just saw it as the only path for me to have sex with a man. After I came out, I haven’t had any more thoughts about being a woman, and I can’t understand being a woman trapped in a man’s body.
But just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I can’t understand why people voted for Michele Bachmann to represent them in the US House of Representatives, but my lack of understanding doesn’t mean that she doesn’t exist. (And don’t think that I’m not bummed about that.)
And despite how much I’d like to go off on Michele-style tirade, I try to not automatically hate something just because I don’t understand it.
As a kid one of my favorite novels was 1984. In the George Orwell classic, the government has tight control over the lives of its citizens and their beliefs. An important aspect of this control is the Ministry of Truth. The Ministry of Truth rewrites history so that the leaders of Oceania are always correct.
At the start of the novel, Oceania was allied with Eastasia in a war against Eurasia. But during Hate Week, the alliances shifted and mid-sentence an orator on the podium in front of the crowds changed the name of the enemy to Eastasia. The throngs gathered for the Hate Week noticed that all the wrong flags and posters were displayed. They became enraged and ripped down and tore up the flags and posters.
An anonymous person using an IP address from the US House of Representatives has been engaging in his or her own Hate Week, attacking Orange is the New Black, Ms. Cox and transgender people in general. The Wikipedia entry previously quoted from the Advocate stating ”Orange Is the New Black” contains the first ever women-in-prison narrative to be played by a real transgender woman. The House user changed this to call Laverne Cox “a man pretending to be a woman.” Earlier in the week, the same account had been used to make derogatory edits to pages for the term “tranny” — a derogatory term for transgender people — as well as the annual festival Camp Trans and transphobia, the opposition to people who are trans.
In response to this Hate Week, for the third time this summer, Wikipedia has blocked anonymous accounts from editing Wikipedia entries using computers with the US House of Representatives IP address.
Wikipedia gave the user the opportunity to create a user account instead of relying on an anonymous account, but the blocked anonymous user replied, “Blocked because I disagreed with the trans-lobby? These days, If I complain about a man using the womyn’s restroom then I’m cosidered [sic] transphobic and get called a TERF. This has been happening a lot lately here in the halls of Congerss [sic]. If feeling uncomfortable about some creeper coming into the same bathroom as me is considered transphobic, then why is transphobia considered a bad thing? I wouldn’t be surprised if the Admin who banned this IP is trans. If she is a real woman, then she should should [sic] be following real Feminists like Julie Bindel, not sellouts to the trans lobby like Anita Sarkeesian. People need to understand that transgenderism is being promoted by the Patriarchy to diminish the experiences of real womyn.”
Let’s tackle these points:
Q: Blocked because I disagreed with the trans-lobby?
A: No. You were blocked because you were operating your personal Ministry of Truth and trying to distort the facts in Wikipedia with your opinions about transgender people. And I would expect the trans-lobby is about as effective as Mr. Bachmann’s attempts to convert gays using his reparative therapy techniques.
Q: These days, If I complain about a man using the womyn’s restroom then I’m cosidered [sic] transphobic and get called a TERF. This has been happening a lot lately here in the halls of Congerss [sic].
A: To whom does one complain if a man uses the women’s restroom? Is this why Congress can’t get anything done. Is John Boehner in his office telling his fellow Republicans, “We’d like to pass legislation, but we’ve got to get through this House of Rep comment box first.” After the Senator Craig scandal, I imagine that most of the closeted members of Congress are afraid to use the men’s room. It’s much safer for them to use the women’s restroom. Cut them some slack.
Q: If feeling uncomfortable about some creeper coming into the same bathroom as me is considered transphobic, then why is transphobia considered a bad thing?
A: By definition, phobias are irrational fears of something. The Anon User clearly has an irrational fear of being attacked in a bathroom in the US Capitol by a transgender person. Unless the Anon User can point to a single incident of this ever happening, then the fear is irrational.
Q: I wouldn’t be surprised if the Admin who banned this IP is trans. If she is a real woman, then she should should [sic] be following real Feminists like Julie Bindel, not sellouts to the trans lobby like Anita Sarkeesian.
A: The ad hominem attack is the last resort of the thoughtless.
Q: People need to understand that transgenderism is being promoted by the Patriarchy to diminish the experiences of real womyn.
A: At first I thought that maybe this was the explanation I’d been waiting for all along. Maybe that’s why I don’t understand people who are transgender. Being transgender is a concept invented by white straight men to keep real womyn down. And not being straight, I can’t understand it. Then of course if you think about that for a millisecond, you have ot reject that. And what about people who were born female but then identify as male? That seems to upend the patriarchy theory for transgender rights.
In the end, I have to agree with Wikipedia’s decision to block the Anon User from changing Wikipedia entries. In a late post, Anon User claimed that s/he was acting with the explicit permission of a U.S. Representative, which is either an outright lie (reason enough to block the changes) or true (and therefore the government attempting to control thought, which is all the more reason for Wikipedia to block the IP address).
This isn’t the first time folks on Capitol Hill have been found guilty of trying to rewrite history via Wikipedia. The first known example was US Representative Marty Meehan (D-MA). He served in Congress from 1993 to 2007, and in 2006, his staffers edited his Wikipedia entry to delete references to the pledge he made when he initially ran to limit his term to only eight years.
In the end, 2014 isn’t 1984. When you don’t agree with the facts, you can’t just change them, not matter how hard you try.
NOTE: In researching this blog, I started to follow @Congressedits on Twitter, a bot created in July 2014 by software editor Ed Summers. The site tweets anytime an anonymous Wikipedia edit is made from IP addresses in the U.S. Congress. It is definitely worth following as members often make changes to articles about alien-reptilian conspiracies and the moon landing.