Does this mean no setting foot in North Carolina?
Toni Morrison famously dubbed Bill Clinton “the first black president.” His wife looks to make history as America’s first transgender president.
It’s perhaps unfair to call Hillary Clinton the first transgender president. After all, the election remains six months away, and inauguration day lies further off still. But it’s good to be first calling figures of import the first this or that, so allow me to be the first to bestow upon Hillary Clinton the honorific “America’s first transgender president.”
Transitioning from First Lady to first transgender president did not come as an easy process. As First Lady, Hillary stood by her man, Tammy Wynette-style, as he signed the Defense of Marriage Act and did not extend the provisions of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen-to-airwomen, and Marines. But as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton allowed people born of one sex to claim membership in the opposite sex on their passports even without undergoing gender-reassignment surgery. Just as when she shifted from Goldwater Girl to Watergate investigator in a decade, she again demonstrated that political figures can change the way caterpillars metamorphosing into beautiful butterflies do.
It’s 2016, when “Lola,” half of all Monty Python sketches, and Crocodile Dundee’s test all mutate into bigotry. So, the time for a transgender president is now. Sure, the tough but feminine Hillary appears transgender as much as pasty-white Bill looks black. But Toni Morrison, like so many great novelists, rejects the literalism of rubes for sophisticated metaphors. And with the abolition of biology, who takes offense at “trans” and “cis” designations when all enlightened people regard sex as socially constructed?
America may not want a nude Bruce Jenner in aSilence of the Lambs pose on the cover of Sports Illustrated or girls sharing the women’s room at Target with the six-foot-four (6’9″ in heels!) RuPaul (surely appalled by this fictitious image of her shopping at a gauche big-box store). But the cultural guardians long ago dismissed the opinion of the people for the opinion of the people who matter.
The latest civil rights movement remains a peculiar one. Basic civil rights to vote and to practice one’s religion fall to the new right to hear everyone applaud one’s choices. Even the dubious right to privacy once fashionably found in the Constitution’s penumbras suddenly matters little in that most private of places, the public bathroom. Majorities may cathartically pass laws forbidding males dressed as females from using the ladies’ room in government facilities, or allowing devoutly Christian photographers to pass on working a gay wedding, but a judge soon overrules the will of the majority.
We masquerade as a democracy. Don’t dare call it an oligarchy lest you wish to lose your job, as Curt Schilling did at ESPN for objecting to males sharing the restroom with his daughter, or your status as a feminist heroine, as Germaine Greer did in ridiculing the idea that plastic surgery and hormone injections transform males into females.
Should Hillary fail in her quest to win election in November, don’t fret. America gets its first transgender president regardless. Though polls show Americans wanting to keep the ladies’ room for, well, women, and the men’s room for males, the three candidates remaining in the presidential race race to side with people who make up, on a generous count, about one in 400 residents of the United States.
Aside from becoming America’s first Martian president, Bernie Sanders seeks to make history as its first transgender president, too. Vermont’s junior senator advocates forcing homeowners to rent to transgenders and prying open public bathrooms to members of one sex who live as though members of the other. Like Hillary Clinton, he seeks to expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include gender identity. And he maintains he’s on the side of science in his war on biology, just as he was more than four decades ago when he blamedsexual frigidity as a cause of cervical cancer.
Donald Trump on a bad hair day surely appears as grandmotherly as Hillary Clinton (he looks when disheveled like Napoleon Dynamite’s nana, the one who broke her coccyx, stuffed into an Italian suit). Trump says that transgenders should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate” and criticized North Carolina forbidding gender-bending in the public bathrooms of state buildings.
All of this may cause you to think you wandered into the wrong bathroom or immigrated to a surreal, exotic, foreign land without leaving your front door. To loosely paraphrase Richard Nixon, “We’re all transgenders now.”