No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.

In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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'I'm Gonna Pop Some Tags'

"Only got $20 in my pocket"

Instead of taking a trip over spring break, I decided to go home and spend some much needed time with my family & friends and it was honestly so enjoyable. School has been chaotic and hectic and a break with nothing to do was perfect.

One day over the break I went and visited a friend who goes to college in Tifton, Georgia. This sweet pal of mine is loves thrifting as much as I do so we always venture out unique little stores all over the place. That's how we decided to spend our day together. I am unashamedly obsessed with thrift shopping. You can honestly find some real gems for so super cheap.

Before our epic day of thrifting began, we first stopped by this great coffee shop because coffee = happiness. Side note, if you're ever in Tifton, stop by Espresso 41. It's an old gas station that was renovated into the cutest little shop and they have the friendliest people with the best atmosphere.

Anyway, after out coffee stop, we went to four different thrift stores. The first one has daily "color sales". Whatever the color for the day is, any item of that color is $1. When we went, the colors were blue & black so all the clothes we got that were blue and black were only a dollar. *cue the happy dance*

2 out of the 4 had brand new clothes from big stores like Target. They buy big cardboard boxes of clothes that either go unsold or get returned then they turn around and sell the items for $2 or $3. One of the stores had around 15 brand new expresso machines for like $50.

The other one we went to had 4 racks of $1 sale items. Like, who could pass up anything for a dollar.

By the end, the most expensive thing I bought was $5 and it was a brand new pair of shoes. Total, I spent $37.85 and got:

2 pair of shoes, 2 sweaters, a cardigan, 3 dresses, 2 skirts, 8 shirts, and 2 pair of shoes.

So big shoutout to Tifton for the best thrift stores and the cutest coffee shops.

If you're ever looking for an adventure, or want to find cool clothes, or just have time to kill, go thrift shopping. It's honestly so fun and you can find some super great suff. And if you ever need someone to tag along, I'm always down.

Happy week after spring break and happy thrifting!!


Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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6 Dead, 10 Injured After Engineering Problems Cause A Miami Bridge To Collapse

A look into the FIU bridge collapse and the factors that may have caused it.

On Thursday, March 15th, Florida International University's pedestrian bridge in Miami collapsed, leading to six fatalities and 10 injuries. Engineering and structural failures have been blamed for the fall of the $14.2 million, 950-ton "instant bridge." Set to open next year, the student walkway was built by two experienced Florida construction firms, Figg Bridge Design and MCM construction. Both companies have embarked on numerous projects throughout the United States.

"Instant bridge," also known as "accelerated bridge construction," was the method employed to build the FIU crossing. The purpose of this technique is to execute the majority of bridge construction off-site prior to installation. According to the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, the instant bridge method is "a paradigm shift in the project planning and procurement approach." Moreover, accelerated bridge construction is much faster than traditional methods, and it minimizes travel related risks on the road and decreases delays as well.

The FIU bridge collapse is currently being investigated. According to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a possible trigger mechanism for the fatal incident could have been a stress test that was performed on the span of the bridge. After examining the design of the walkway and inspecting the aftermath of its destruction Robert Bea, professor of engineering and construction management at the University of California - Berkeley, stated to the Associated Press that "innovations take a design firm into an area where they don't have applicable experience, and then we have another unexpected failure on our hands." As much as the FHA and construction agencies love to boast about the "instant bridge" technique, after reflecting upon the incident in Florida, it is evident that this method is far from infallible.

Former president of the American Society of Civil Engineers Andy Hermann highlighted the fact that multiple variables could have triggered the bridge collapse, and, at the moment, it is difficult to pinpoint the source of catastrophe. "It could be materials, it could be construction technique, it could be the engineering design itself. With the ABC type of construction, there are design loads that have to be taken into account for the actual moving of the bridge. ABC construction essentially builds a bridge off-site and then moves it into place for its final position. And when you do that you have different load points, different supports for the bridge that are different than the final supports. So you have to take account of that when you design the bridge," stated Hermann.

Apparently, both Figg and MCM have been involved in previous bridge failures. According to the Miami Herald, Figg was slapped with four violations in 2012 by the Virginia Department of Labor after a 90-ton chunk of concrete plummeted from a bridge that was under construction near Norfolk. The company was also fined a hefty $28,000 by the Department of Labor after unauthorized and improper modification of a girder – which caused the 2012 bridge collapse. MCM is also under fire, as a lawsuit that was filed earlier this month blames the company for hiring “incompetent, inexperienced, unskilled or careless employees." According to the Occupational Safety Health Administration, over the past five years, MCM has blown through 11 safety violations, and fines that exceed over $50,000 total.

Despite the accusations being pointed at both construction firms, Figg expressed that "in our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before," and MCM stated, "MCM is a family business, and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way.”

FIU school president Mark B. Rosenberg has recently stated that the school community is currently in the stage of “immense sadness, uncontrollable sadness.” Rosenberg further stated that “we're committed to assisting in all efforts necessary, and our hope is that this sadness can galvanize the entire community to stay the course, a course of goodness, of hope, of opportunity."

At the moment, the identities of the six dead bodies that were found in the rubble are being processed.

Cover Image Credit: Time Magazine (couldn't find a free applicable image!!)

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