CeoQWDPWQAEuJviI spent at least several minutes each day of the last long weekend debating what I was going to write about for today’s column.

Of course, instead of actually writing anything I went bike riding, skateboarding, went to a handful of get togethers, announced a roller derby bout, watched wrestling and went to an amusement park.

It was the first nice weekend in Montreal, it was bound to be spent outside of the house.

Anyhow, this topic is a little serious, so I apologize in advance if I use any of the wrong language to properly communicate my feelings.

I have been announcing roller derby bouts off and on for about 8 years now. The sport is very recognized as being as being extremely supportive of the LGBT community. Over the course of that 8 years I’ve met a number of great people transitioning one way or the other to the gender that they identified with, even if it wasn’t the gender they were physically born with.

Part of my job as announcer is to validate the rosters of the teams playing so I have the correct list of names to refer to the skaters. Something that I started recently (maybe not recently enough in retrospect) is to double check with the coaches if any of the skaters have a preferred pronoun, gender neutral or otherwise.

It’s a small thing, it takes two seconds of my time. If a skater doesn’t identify as a female, I shouldn’t be the asshole throwing around female pronouns to a crowd of derby fans, misrepresenting them and their identity.

There’s something about subcultures accepting other subcultures that made that easy for me to do. I’m a straight, cisgender male. I have no direct experience with any sort of gender based discrimination. But, I’ve always thought of myself as LGBT friendly. I questioned my own sexuality a lot in highschool, wondering if I was gay or bi, one of my best friends in high school was a gay woman (who would go on to get a PhD in Art History and Gender & Women’s Studies) and I made plenty of queer and trans friends in college.

I don’t know if it’s always the case, but the geek crew that I became friends with in college was very open and accepting. Maybe it was the environment of openness in table-top and LARP RPGs? I remember a number of players exploring their gender indentities by playing characters of a gender or sexual orientation that wasn’t their own. This extended easily into our real lives as some of those players came out as gay or trans and the reaction was almost always the same: general acceptance and wanting them to be comfortable as they were.

Still, college was 15 years ago. Outside of our warm fuzzy geek crew it was easy to run into less than accepting people.

The most virulent and disgusting outside reactions were always to my trans friends. It sucked. I’ll spare you re-telling some of the toxic reactions I watched my friends experience. Even people who seemed to be able to get their heads around homosexual orientation were appalled at the idea of someone altering their outward gender to match their internal gender identity.

I watch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on a basically a daily basis. My main source of information regarding what’s going on down South in the USA comes from a comedy show, I’m not ashamed to admit that. One of the recurring topics that gets lampooned is the ongoing saga of discrimination in North Carolina. In particular, the nonsensical HB2 “Bathroom Law” that states that you may only use the bathroom and changing facilities designated to the gender on your birth certificate.

Obviously, that’s a massive slap in the face to anyone who has other altered their gender since birth or identifies as a non-binary gender. Be it trans, genderless, pangender, or what have you. It’s a big “fuck you” to what I felt like was a pretty steady progression in the direction of freedom of gender and sexuality.

A lot of people I’ve spoken with about this are rightfully disgusted at such a discriminatory bill. But, since I like to see silver linings, I think some good things are coming out of North Carolina’s shittiness.

If this sort of thing happened 15 years ago, I don’t think we’d see pop-stars cancelling shows in North Carolina. I don’t think we’d have comedians openly mocking the North Carolinian government’s prejudice.

I honestly don’t think that if this happened when I was in college there’d be any sort of actual public outcry. The bill would’ve quietly passed and only those directly impacted would have reacted.

In short, I think we’ve come a long way with the public opinion towards trans individuals. I think in this fight, queer and trans rights are winning. Bigoted policies like HB2 are the political equivalent of someone on their back shooting sand in the eyes of their opponent.

It’s a cheap, desperate tactic and in the long run that’s how it will be remembered; Desperate actions from the losing side. Better yet, it won’t be remembered at all.

What am I trying to say here? I’m saying that no matter what your opinion is about how a person leads their life or the decisions that they make, it doesn’t give you the excuse to shit on their rights.

I’ll go back to being funny next week.

Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.

Photo from @malbertnews
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