Featured image by Jonathan Lin. Follow the link for more of this artist’s work.
We live in a perfectionist victim society, where we can be simultaneously condemned for the slightest infraction, and yet never be responsible for our own actions and reactions. And this is entirely dependent on who you are in our modern society. The more victimhood you can claim, the less responsibility you need to bear, and the more tolerable those in control will be toward your vile behavior.
I like to view the world pretty simply. Instead of the myriad of labels, races, cultures, creeds, religions, genders, sexes, party affiliations, locations, and so on that people claim in terms of their identity, I view the people of the world as one of two things: A**holes and Non-A**holes. And this entire dichotomy is dependent on how you treat me and other people.
Case in point, a viral video of a trans woman in Texas, berating a manager at a Sonic for employees using male pronouns during her order. I will link both parts of the video below so you can see the incident unfold and judge it for yourself. In addition, I will link to an article about this for additional reporting.
Let me say this, Eden Torres falls is an A**hole. Her being trans has nothing to do with how she treated that employee. The situation could have been handled differently, certainly, but without having seen the actual interaction at what I would assume was a drive-thru transaction at this particular Sonic, I can make several assumptions that I would defend. I worked in the service industry for 13 years. My particular service was in grocery stores. Let me tell you from personal experience, people can be very mean when it comes to their food. A retail schedule is often chaotic, having a fluctuating schedule, irregular time off, and having little time to plan since the schedules usually come out for just the next week. People are picky, entitled, and do not care about the reason something went wrong with the things that they buy. They also assume that I (the frontline worker) have some vast sway in the company or that I can just tell someone and with the snap of a finger get the problem (often times that is outside of our control) fixed.
For her, a trans woman, to believe that she is entitled to block the driveway, preventing cars from passing and for the business to continue operating, is a dick move. When the manager has to repeatedly as for her to pull to the side, and for her to repeatedly fail to comply with his reasonable request, escalates the situation into very uncomfortable territory. I’ve dealt with A**holes before in my grocery career, and from personal experience they can change the entire energy of my day. I could be in a good flow, and bam!, just like that the entire day is shot, and I’m yearning to just go home.
Do you want to know the truth? I’ve been called ma’am on the phone and in drive thru’s for years. My voice isn’t always gravely and masculine, and sometimes people just have an off day. I recognize that and don’t let it send me off the rails. I pull up, they see I’m a guy, they apologize. I say “no worries” and we move along with our day. I do my thing, and don’t dwell on being slighted. I be the bigger person, and stay out of the A**hole category, because that’s what I want for others, and I am a big believer in putting out into the universe what you’d like to get back from it.
Retail workers don’t get paid enough to consider your feelings. They care about processing your transaction and getting onto the next order. But for Eden Torres, the slight of being miss-gendered is such a cardinal offense that it justifies all of her subsequent A**hole behavior. Her assumption is that the entire staff of the restaurant is intentionally calling her sir. She assumes that the fry cooks in the back where I know for damn sure that she can’t see are getting in on the act, are engaging in the high crime of calling her “sir” instead of “ma’am.”
I’m honestly tired of this song and dance. I try to be nice, professional, and cordial. I have people who are trans and I use their pronouns, or ask if I’m unsure because I’m going to be interacting with them on an extended basis. But I’m human, and am bound to make the mistake of calling a she “he” or a he “her” or some variation thereof. And in that event, like the Sonic Manager, I will apologize. But my attitude sours rather quickly when my attempts to move forward are intentionally subverted by someone who thinks that they are entitled to act like a total A**hole.
We need to remind ourselves to give each other a little grace, and to be resilient enough to move past the things that cause unintentional harm. I may say something that is insensitive without intending to. You may say something insensitive to me without meaning to be insulting or insensitive. Part of being an adult is recognizing when it is being intentional and when it is incidental, and being able to show some grace in a humble manner so that nobody feels they need to defend themselves. Had Ms. Torres asked to speak to the manager in private, and calmly explained that the staff member had used the wrong pronouns during the order, and asked for them to reach out and request they be more careful, but not to seek punishment, then this whole incident wouldn’t be the viral story it has become.
Instead, Ms. Torres felt slighted, assumed it was discrimination, and went full A**hole. She blew the situation way out of proportion and in posting the interaction social media, made it entirely about how she felt attacked, covering herself in the mantle of the victim to earn social justice brownie points from Twitter. The article from Meaww goes on to report that she took back to Twitter to continue her rant.
A few thoughts, since I’m probably already going to be labeled a transphobe for this post, I seem to care little. Asking for your preferred pronouns doesn’t change the outcome for a person who has gone full A**hole. To demand to be given respect, and in turn to give none is not an effective method of interpersonal communication. If you believe that talking to a manager is putting your life at “gigantic risk,” then you seriously need to evaluate your level of resilience. You melted down by turning a slight into a viral controversy. You are fighting to “liberate” yourself from a system that has no room for you, but give no incentive for people to want you to be in it, not by being trans or gender expansive or gender dysphoric, but by being an A**hole. So why should I show you respect when you bash and berate me, and all the cisgendered, heteronormative members of society? Why should I cater to A**holes?
If asking someone to be respectful if they want respect is transphobia, then I’m a lost cause. The trans movement will undermine the progress of the LGBT movement if being an A**hole is an acceptable baseline. To demand that I cater to you not out of respect, but rather through threat of force, is not dialogue, it is bullying, and I’m tired of not speaking truth to power. And to assume that my disagreement with your reaction is rooted in both hatred and discrimination clearly tells me that you are both disingenuous and an A**Hole.