It wasn't so long ago that, amid Texas and other states planning to legally require birth certificate-based bathroom use, I called up my friend and fellow writer Dana Beyer and suggested a bunch of us stage a protest. My idea was that, after notifying the media, a half dozen or so of us should show up on the statehouse steps in Austin, clad in black Transexual Menace T-shirts for visibility, and proceed to use the restrooms.
The staff and media wouldn't care about the nonthreatening trans women, of course, though we were the ones the transphobes had in mind when they designed the proposed law. It was the trans men in women's rooms who were the visual, as activist Michael C. Hughes -- a one-man crusade to snap pictures showing how bearded trans men look in the ladies' room -- had proved.
We immediately found several willing trans women but couldn't find any trans men, and the idea died.
But now it's coming back on its own. Laws intended to punish us trans women who so offend conservative transphobes are beginning to bite them in the ass.
In Texas (where else?) trans male wrestler Mack Beggs -- despite being the center of a community circus and booed during his bouts -- just won the state wrestling title. In the 110-pound division. Undefeated after 52 bouts in the girls' division.
You see, Texas's University Interscholastic League demanded that Mack compete according to his birth certificate sex. Now parents of girls who are as deeply dedicated to wrestling as Mack (who is a junior, and still has a year to go) are beginning to protest. The league is backpedaling.
This is the sound of the other shoe dropping.
All those laws and policies developed to assault trans women are going to start snaring trans men too, a group conservative transphobes have not bothered to think about.
They are going to have to. Mack and Gavin Grimm are just the beginning. You are going to see lots of news stories of trans men winning at girls' sports, trans men in girls' locker rooms, trans men using the women's room, trans men being banned from proms because they and their girlfriends are considered "lesbians," etc.
One suspects these laws are going to quickly become untenable. Or perhaps they'll try to pass some sort of legislative kludge that says trans women must be treated as male, but trans men as male too. Which would be ridiculously inconsistent and certainly discriminatory on its face, and likely not survive court challenges.
Gender, as transphobic lawmakers are about to find out, is a lot bigger than the trans women who offend them so. And a lot more insubordinate.
And as has become increasingly apparently, the battle for trans rights will be fought by the kids. Many of them -- like Mack and Gavin -- the transphobic laws never anticipated. They are our shock troops. And eventually they will carry the day.
RIKI WILCHINS is an author and advocate.