Joel Silverstein

In this week’s Willamette Week, there is a story of a Portland cop who chose to live her life as a man. In Florida, a vicious custody battle is being fought in which Lisa Kanteras claims that her husband is a “woman that thinks she’s a man.” She says her son was deprived of a male role model. That she can’t bear to have her son sit down to urinate, like his father.

If you’re like me, these stories disgust you. Not disgust for Michael Kantaras, or Damon Woodcock, but rather disgust for their former friends and lovers who could not support them in the way they chose to live their lives. I’m disgusted by Lisa Kanteras, who after 13 years of understanding her husband’s transsexuality, could publicly state, “you cannot think you’re a man, and have characteristics of a man, and be a natural man.” Where did her understanding go? And why was it so easy for her to say such thing about a person she had loved?

She found it acceptable because she thought she was appealing to a public sentiment that transsexuals are just people attempting to be what they are not. Before a few weeks ago, I might’ve disagreed with Lisa. I might’ve said, “There are many of us that understand that people have a choice to live their lives their own way, and gender should have nothing to do with that.” But that optimism was stifled when these types of gender bias came to PSU.

While seated next to the pool at the Peter W. Stott Center (I moonlight as a lifeguard), I was made aware that there was “a man pretending to be a woman” in the women’s locker room. And the softball team decided that they’d make this individual feel unwelcome.

I was infuriated. This person, whether biologically a woman or not, had chosen to live as a woman. Perhaps they felt, like I do, that a university should be a safe place for people of all shapes, genders and sexual orientations. And if people felt uncomfortable, they could handle it in a mature fashion. Instead, this woman was arrested for trespassing. Arrested! Where was she supposed to go? Is there a locker room that says “Transgender” or “Transsexual?”

It’s fitting though, that a cop from the same police force that alienated their own, Damon Woodcock, would come and arrest this person for choosing to live as a woman. What’s not fitting is that this type of thing goes on so often. That people like Damon Woodcock and Michael Kantaras can have their rights taken away from them because they don’t fit a specific gender label, is disgusting. The fact that this type of bias also resides in the Peter Stott Center is more than disappointing. It’s straight up wrong, and it needs to be addressed.

With that, a solution must be offered. I can offer only this: let’s free our fucking minds, already. People can choose to live however they wish, and dress however they wish, and be whoever they wish. We can make this a comfortable place for them, and for us. Let’s make PSU a place that can be safe for everyone, of every gender, race, lifestyle, etc. etc. etc. And let’s quit the hate. Let’s realize that we only hate people for their differences because we refuse to understand them. Let’s see, that as Michael Kantaras said, “being a man (or a woman for that matter) is between your ears, not your legs.” Word up.