Once again, one crappy person who happens to belong to a marginalized group is being used as headway to continue oppression of a marginalized group. In Idaho, a transgender person was arrested for voyuerism in a Target dressing room.
A woman in the Ammon, Idaho, Target told police she saw someone reach over the wall separating the fitting rooms with an iPhone on Monday. Cops then arrested Shauna Smith, 43, a woman who was booked into the Bonneville County Jail as a man, using her legal name, Sean Patrick Smith.
Despite this being not even near the norm for transgender people, who are usually the target of violence and crime, bigots are already using Smith’s alleged crime to fuel hateful (future legal) fodder.
Take the comments on one right-wing website’s report of the crime (a report that called Smith a “man who lives life dressed as a woman).”
“Yeah, instead of telling confused, crazed men they need help and getting them that help, we instead force society to accept the delusions of confused, crazed men and reform it to meet their whims. We’re all the worse off for not treating adults like, well, adults.”
“Gosh, who didn’t see that coming? Stopped shopping at Target when they dug in their heels in favor of perverts instead of privacy. And I’m old and ugly–it would serve Shauna right if he accidentily [sic] filmed me.”
Meanwhile, on Twitter, Smith is being used as a means to revive the call for a boycott of Target that began when the company announced its open-minded policy of allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
— JS Mill XX #FamiliesBelongTogether (@Shy_Survivor) July 14, 2016
It’s heartbreaking and frustrating for the transgender community to be attacked for the actions of one person, actions that have nothing to do with being transgender.
But this happens over and over and over again. A Latino person is caught in a drug ring. A black person kills police, claiming he hates white people. A Muslim person shoots up a gay nightclub, claiming to support ISIS. When things like the aforementioned happen, Americans don’t just blame the shooter or perpetrator. We claim all people of all these groups (or at least a dangerous majority) feel this way and do these things.
But let’s talk about #AllLives for a moment, shall we?
When a Dylann Roof or a Timothy McVeigh or an Adam Lanza commits an atrocity, we do not ask all white men or all white people to apologize for their actions. When a Jeffrey Dahmer’s or a Ted Bundy’s crimes are exposed, we do not suddenly begin to profile middle-aged white men, thinking they’re dangerous.
We can’t even get white people to apologize for actual atrocities committed or excused by all white people (that is, slavery, Native American genocide, Japanese interment) from which they still benefit today (still to the detriment of people of color) without someone claiming that these things don’t matter and usually something about “white guilt.”
So why the discrepancy? Either everyone is representative of their group, or no one is, but right now, it is only marginalized persons who bear the brunt of this… as usual.
It is important to understand that this is how oppression works: American society and culture are both at once white normative (considers whiteness “normal” and good and positive to a fault), heteronormative (when heterosexuality is considered normal and good and positive), Christian normative (because Christianity is the most-practiced religion in our country, at around 80 percent) and cis-centered (we do not make a lot, if any, space for transgender and nonbinary folks).
Because of these realities of our culture, marginalized groups are not afforded the same individualism as our status quo counterparts. Thus, individual white men are never vilified and blamed for the crimes of their demographic in the way, say, a transgender person or black person or Muslim so often is.
The bottom line is, marginalized people should not bear all the responsibility for actions that are not their own (and that we in no way benefit from). Part of understanding existing inequality uses understanding that not every group is afforded this luxury.
Before you use Shauna Smith’s alleged crime to brandish all transgender people as “perverts” in an effort to justify bigoted proposed laws, stop for a moment and consider how you would like it if someone who shares your race, ethnicity or religion does something wrong and it was used against you.