A few weeks back, I found myself in a supermarket checkout line in Ooltewah, Tennessee behind a trans man, the woman who was obviously his partner, and the small child they are obviously raising together. He read to me as someone in the mid-phase of transition, living full-time as a man and probably 6-8 months into hormone therapy. I allowed myself the luxury of the thought, "Wow! Gender consciousness sure must have evolved around these parts for him to feel safe living so openly. Right on!"
Now, based on widespread local outcry over introduction of this bill, I'm going to allow myself the additional luxury of concluding that transgender Tennesseans find themselves facing more of a narrow-based fear and ignorance problem, not a broad-based violent bigotry problem. Hopefully that word will get out before we find a tourism and business boycott called down upon Tennessee.
Upon encountering the gender presentation of any person, there is but one rule: Trust him or her to self-identify and perform her or his gender, and respond respectfully to her or his cues. Simple.
Here are a couple of good educational resources about the persistent discrimination, harassment, and violence that people who "transgress gender norms" face in gender segregated bathrooms, changing room, and the like:
Commentary will settle across local sites native to social media, but I'll bet that it self-organizes and focuses in a way that only feeds and further exacerbates local social, cultural, and political divides and misunderstandings. How is that good for the Chattanooga region? Yes, times are weird all over, community moderation is difficult (and requires a strong and consistent bouncer hand), and the "newspaper" business is evolving rapidly, but that's no excuse for the TFP operation to drop its newspaper 2.0 basket.
After a few days of reading what now feels like a "dead" paper, I'm still unsure what to make of the new policy. Chattanooga remains a fine old town? One Chattanoogan isn't enough? Someone threatened a terrific lawsuit? Even the New Orleans Times-Picayune (http://nola.com) prohibits its notoriously brutal and frequently ill-informed readership only from commenting on posts in its "Society" section!
I will keep the TFP in my Facebook feed (as well as reading it over morning coffee) and post the occasional comment as allowed, but find it absurd that our metro newspaper of record regards Facebooking as a substitute for a social media policy and practice solution. Here's hoping that you rethink this move once whatever occasioned it has cooled off a bit.
So where are locals hanging out online to comment on and read comments on TFP content?
Way to go, Tiryq!