Recently, new laws for gender registration were passed in Iceland, and of course one of the largest newspapers ran some incredibly tactless comic depicting a trans person at the pool. The “why are you so sensitive, it’s just a joke” discourse started the second its crassness was pointed out.
It hurt me, as my spouse is trans, and doesn’t dare go swimming; my child is also trans, and has only recently gotten up the nerve to go to the pool, and I know of at least three trans adults that have allowed themselves to use the men’s and women’s locker rooms, some with my help.
It was as if this particular comic was drawn from the body self-image of those who are trying to take the unbelievably difficult step of coming out from under the shadow of fear. Men and women with bodies that are different, due to disability, accidents, weight or their own damaged self-image.
I didn’t feel great about this, but I wasn’t in the mood to argue with people on social media. Then I saw news from Poland of a 4,000-strong protest against a queer pride march featuring 1,000 people, many of whom were attacked. Violence and protests against people who are different isn’t new, but it’s becoming more common with the rise of people like Trump and Duterte. Just a few years ago, I believed that we were making progress, and that little by little, people could be themselves without needing to fear violence.
Violence and exclusion begins in a consenting environment. And that environment begins to form when people dip a toe into these little jokes that tell minorities to be careful, because their environment is not safe. These minorities laugh along, not wanting to be seen as “snowflakes” who can’t take a joke.
20 years ago, attacks in Iceland were common, and brutal. I knew Móði, who ended up with a plate in his head after an attack by a group. My friends Dísa, Örn, and a others didn’t survive. When I read about the attacks in Poland, the knot in my stomach came back. I felt as though the world was returning to where it was 20 years ago. I have felt this way for a few years.
The human soul must be handled with care.
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