As the trial of Angie Zapata's murderer begins, about a year after she was killed by a date who "discovered," in the course of sexually assaulting her, that she had a penis, a google search of "transgender" produces this companion story: opposition to a bill banning discrimination based on gender orientation (to be frank, I find US law-making processes confusing.. 11 states have a similar law in place, and there's a federal and other state laws in the works, I think).
It's a precedent-setting case: the first murder of a transgendered woman to be tried as a hate crime. News reports stated that Zapata's killer began to suspect her gender identity, and, when she refused to "prove" that she was female, he put his hand on her crotch without her consent and felt her penis. This is mentioned in passing, as they describe how and why he "snapped" and "killed it," as he referred the the woman he beat to death and robbed. Though they did mention tha the two had "spent the night" and Zapata's mysterious not-putting-out behaviour, no commentary was provided about why, after suspecting that Zapata had formerly identified as a boy, he decided to sexually assault her rather than stop seeing her. Apparently, having a suspect gender is asking for it. But we already know that some sexual assaults just don't "count," right?
Opposition to the anti-discrimination bill, which is the basis of a hate crime prosecution, calls it a "bathroom bill," giving legal protection to perverts who want to use the "wrong" bathroom. I used a unisex bathoom in residence at school, and I can't say any harm came of it, aside from a few awkward conversations with a particularly chatty guy who sometimes occupied the stall next to mine. The rapes that took place in a university dorm the following year happened in bedrooms, not bathrooms (and were perpetrated, as is typical, by a male-identified, heterosexual man). But here's the rub: our cultural taboos about the toilet, and who should or shouldn't be allowed to see us using it, are being used as legitimate criticism of a bill that is aimed at preventing violence, employment, medical, legal, and educational discrimination. It's a measure that will protect transgendered people from poverty and illness, making them less vulnerable to violence in the first place, and which will provide necessary education to violent criminals who expect our courts to excuse their "gay panic" style attacks.
Why the opposition? There have never been any attacks on bathroom users by trans persons, ever, so that's clearly not the issue. Let's let gender/orientation lines get blurry for a moment, and think about why either/or/neither/both/other identifications (people who don't fit in to white-idealized versions of strong male man/submissive female woman gender dichotomies) are the target of so much violence. Zapata's killer stated that she performed oral sex on him. If he liked it, does that make him gay? In his mind, probably. Would it make him gay if he enjoyed oral sex with someone who identified as male? In my mind, no... but I tend not to fuss over gender.
What about a bunch of guys who attend a strip club together? Sure, they're looking at a naked woman, but the sexual relationship they're exploring is with each other. And if the stripper performs with a female partner, are they, or their audience, now lesbians? If the next show is a drag performace, and both gay- and straight-identified audience members think she's hot, what's their orientation? What gender do we call men who are raped in self-contained all-male societies, like prison? What gender do the hetero-identified rapists call the victims, or themselves? Who is more man: a white transgendered man/woman or a black transgendered man/woman (by Western standards, the black "look" is far more "masculine")? And what to make of all that muscley man-on-man action in professional wrestling, football, ufc? Where and how do any of these men fit into a system of sex-based heirarchies, once we recognize that manhood and heterosexuality are pretty fluid concepts? Much of men's objectification of women (I use this term against my better judgement, for lack of a better phrase, and without the implied disrespect to femme folk who work in sex industries) has nothing to do with women at all, and everything to do with male fraternity. Actually, even the word "fraternity" calls to mind homoerotic imagery of Bush and his "Skulls" pals dancing around in robes and spanking each other. Hawt. And male violence, whether against women or other men, tends to be about establishing male power: over women, over the earth, among competing men, over nations/races/cultures, and by collecting the most money or land. Anti-trans discrimination and violence are necessary components of a system that lets men engage in sex-based explorations and exchanges/seizures of power without having to sacrifice the ideal of the straight, masculine man.
My point is this: the non-existant victims of non-existant trans bathroom predators are a decoy, and Zapata, and every murdered woman like her, are what we're not supposed to see. Continuing anti-trans discrimination won't nail any sex predators because sex predators, by and large, are male-identified, heterosexual men. But it will protect the ideal of masculinity and the excuses it provides for "straight" men to create and maintain power through violence.