I don’t know how people have the time to get upset about all the things they get upset about, but once again, we’ve got people worrying about non-issues, as if we’ve actually solved all the real problems in the world and have to dig up stuff to keep us shocked and offended.
First of all, we’re apparently still requiring a peek in the pants in order to see who qualifies for certain jobs. I was hoping that maybe the travesty that happened to Kate Lynn Blatt when her employer demanded photos of her genitalia in order for her to continue her employment was just an isolated incident. But apparently not.
Even though El’Jai Devoureau has identified as male all his life – and has the necessary paperwork to prove his male identity – the fact that he was assigned female at birth was enough to cause him to lose his job at a drug treatment center in New Jersey, a state that has job discrimination protections based on gender identity and expression.
It seems that Mr. Devoureau was fired when, after it was discovered that he was trans, he refused to answer his supervisor’s questions about any surgeries he had undergone. With the help of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF), he responded to his dismissal by filing a lawsuit, which The New York Times says could be groundbreaking in determining the legal definition of who is or is not a man. (Read Dr. Jillian T. Weiss’ information on the case at The Bilerico Project.)
I hope the suit also examines the legality of an employer asking an employee about his or her genitals. If genitalia was a condition of employment, Mr. Devoureau should have been asked to drop his drawers during his initial interview. If not, then it should not be an issue now.
The only time that it might be acceptable to ask an employee about his or her genitalia is a) if a particular type of genitalia is required to perform a particular job duty (perhaps real-life male or female condom testing?) or b) if everyone employed by a particular company is asked the same question – but there better be a damn good reason why a company would ask its employees for that information.
Regardless, Mr. Devoureau was not hired because of his genitalia, nor should he be fired because of them. I hope his lawsuit settles things once and for all. Gender identity protections mean nothing if we continue to be judged by our genitals and if we continue to be asked about them by employers.
And then there’s the panic over pink toenails in a J. Crew ad.
The right-wing gender police are all abuzz about a J. Crew ad that depicts a young boy – designer Jenna Lyons’ son, Beckett – with pink polish on his toenails. Really, people, get a hobby. The kid is going to be fine. This whole “pink is for girls” thing is completely cultural.
According to Wikipedia (and several other sources), pink was considered by many to be a “masculine” color in the early 20th-century United States, and blue was considered a “feminine” color. Supposedly, this changed around World War II. Different cultures have a variety of designations for color, so the pink thing doesn’t add up to anything but nonsense.
As far as nail polish goes, lots of little kids like to wear polish and face paint and all kinds of colorful decorations. Again, which paints and polishes are appropriate for men and women, boys and girls, is cultural. It’s not, as Dr. Keith Ablow insists in a Fox News editorial condemning Lyons and J. Crew, dictated by a “creative Force in the universe.”
And Erin Brown of the conservative Culture and Media Institute makes sure to mention, in the first paragraph of her rant against the ad, that J. Crew is a favorite store of Michelle Obama – as if Mrs. Obama had any connection at all to the ad. If you’re somehow attempting to link this to the Obamas, I think you’re stretching there, Erin.
Regardless, people, just stop worrying – about other people’s bodies, about how other people are raising their kids, about other people in general. After the real problems going on around us are solved, if you still don’t have a life, then you can start fretting over what’s in other people’s pants and underneath their socks. In the meantime, find something constructive to do.
(Photo of El’Jai Devoureau associated with TLDEF press release)