09 June 2015

The Third Law In The Third World

In previous posts, I've said that something like a corollary of Newton's Third Law of Motion seems to operate in the realm of transgender acceptance and equality.

Briefly, Newton's Third Law says that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  We see a parallel to it whenever some jurisdiction passes a law to protect us from discrimination or every time there's some favorable image of one of us in the media:  The bigots double down their ignorance, hatred  and violence against us.  

Backwater preachers and Neanderthal politicians (and others) come up with ever-more ridiculous ways of rationalizing their bigotry.  And, unfortunately, the level of violence against us is ramped up:  The beatings, stabbings and shootings become more frequent and gruesome. 

It also seems that as acceptance of us grows in secular Western societies--as seems to have happened in the wake of Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn--conservative societies become even more repressive and brutal.  Such is the case in Egypt where, according to at least one report, trans people (especially women) have been targeted.  During the past year, 150 trans women have been arrested in Cairo alone.

Now, while Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, it's not Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Still, the old ideas about gender and sexuality prevail:  It's very difficult to change one's name, let alone gender, on official documentation, and many Egyptians continue to see trans women as gay men who have rejected their masculinity.

One result of their difficulty in getting IDs that reflect their true identity is that trans people have a hard time getting jobs.  To be fair, it's difficult for anyone to get a job in Egypt right now, but being trans only exacerbates that problem.  So--you guessed it--many trans people turn to sex work in order to survive.  That further stigmatizes them, in both legal and social senses, as Egypt's laws (like the laws in most places) criminalize the sex worker rather than his or her client and sex workers are seen as people "nobody will miss" if they're killed or disappeared.

So, as I've said earlier, it's great that more people are accepting us as we are.  But that also means we must be careful, as those who don't accept us will become more adamant in their hatred.

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