I was on Facebook recently and noticed that a friend had written something along the lines of “while everyone is arguing about bathrooms, there’s this other issue happening” and it struck me as a weird thing to say. Rather than just highlight the one issue, this person seemingly decided to throw another and all who care about it under the bus.
This kind of behavior has always confused me because it never actually seems to be about any of the issues but rather, it seems to be a way to shame people for focusing on the “wrong” issues and self congratulate oneself for being more aware of the world. It also seems to cater to the idea that we can only talk about one issue at a time and intersectionality never seems to enter these conversations.
At the same time, I’ve always noticed that when something like this happens, the person saying it always unintentionally shows their own privilege by down playing an issue. In the case of my friend today, she is a cis person downplaying the bathroom bills in the US. She doesn’t have to deal with discrimination because of perceived gender identity while going to the bathroom; she doesn’t have to deal with health issues because she doesn’t feel safe using bathrooms; she doesn’t face the threat of death due to “trans panic”. She probably didn’t meant it this way and maybe I’m placing my own baggage to this interpretation.
Of course, all of this can also be pointed right back at me – I have done stuff just like this all the time and I have my own things to work out. But as a whole and as individuals, I think that rather than putting one issue down to talk about another or to shame people for talking about issues you might not deem appropriate, we need to realize that we can simultaneously talk about different issues. Just because a person mentions one issue but not another doesn’t mean that they don’t know or care about a different one.