I'm a 42 year-old guy, and I'm married to an amazing woman. We've been together five years and we're as happy and hot for each other as we were when we started dating. We're good. My problem is with a small percentage of other people who are pieces of shit, and how best to deal with them.
My wife is gorgeous—in a way that some walking garbage piles find offensive. She's six-foot-two, and has the same strong-featured exotic look that afforded two of her aunts successful modeling careers. And like her aunts, she regularly encounters assholes who assume that she is transgender and they HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT THAT. I never felt any embarrassment about it; from the beginning I was just too head-over-heels to care what anyone thought. Getting to know her L and G and T friends helped wash off any remaining conservative southern upbringing still clinging to me, and I realized that I wouldn't love her any less if she did have a Y chromosome. I like to think that 37 year-old me wouldn't have cared either—I can't imagine being without this incredible person in my life.
When I've witnessed scumbags harass her on the street, or overheard them talking shit about her, the rage I feel is almost uncontrollable. Fortunately she's always been able to chill me out. "I'm used to it," she'll say, "just ignore them." But she's confessed that it hurts, for the same reason that it enrages me—the sick fucks who are saying these things are trying to hurt and diminish her because of how she looks. And that brings us to my question.
How do I respond?
Obviously just returning the verbal assault or outright violence is no solution. I don't want to encourage the idea that there is something shameful about being trans. Yelling. "She's a real woman, asshole!" is not the message I want to send, but to just let it go seems wrong. I worry about my wife, about our LGBQT friends, and everyone in this country who's abused for who they are. I worry that someday someone will try to harm my wife because of how she looks and that I won't be there to help. I worry that our "president" is making bigots and talking shit-stains feel as though they can do anything they want. And I feel guilty that I didn't really see this problem until it affected people I love. How do I react so that it helps, even in just a small way, to move our society away from bigotry and hate?
Punching Assholes Not The Solution?
I'm sure you don't wanna yell, "She's a real woman, asshole!", because "trans women aren't real women" isn't the message you want to send. That's implicit in your statement, PANTS, but it's best to err on the explicit side when we're talking trans.
You're absolutely right, PANTS: Our shitty fucking embarrassment of a president has made racists and bigots and assorted other shit-stains feel like they can do and say whatever the fuck they want. The Great Recession of 2008, brought to us by banksters, was followed by the Great Disinhibition of 2016, inflicted on us by racists. The violent rhetoric and violent violence of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-Muslim bigots, homophobes, transphobes, confederate-o-philes and other assorted haters is nothing new. What is new, PANTS, is that for the first time in modern American history, these fuckers have an aggressive, overt, and voluble ally in the White House—and this asshole is causing all these other assholes to up their asshole games.
So if you're feeling like these inappropriate and transphobic comments are being lobbed at your wife with greater frequency lately, that's probably because anti-trans hate crimes are on the rise—and with anti-trans bigotry being pushed by White House, that's no coincidence.
As for the wife: just like feminine straight men who read as gay being targeted by homophobes, your cis wife is sometimes mistaken for trans and targeted by transphobes. So what do you do, PANTS? Well, you can yell back. Or beat the shit out of them. Or record their outburst on your phone and upload them to the Internet. (Who knows? Maybe you'll cost one of these assholes their job.) What you don't want to do is accidentally reinforce the bigoted, anti-trans attitudes currently making your cis wife less safe. You don't want to say, "You've got the wrong woman, asshole, she isn't trans!" as that suggests to bigots that their hatred isn't wrong, just misdirected. You could go the Seinfeld route: "She isn't trans, you asshole—not that there's anything wrong with being trans." Or you could confound them by tagging a few additional brain teasers onto this familiar refrain: "Not all men have penises, not all women have vaginas, not all tall women are trans, not all femme men are gay, not all butch women are lesbians, etc., etc. etc."
Or you could listen to your wife when she says, "Just ignore them." If deescalating makes your wife feel safer, PANTS, then deescalation is the route you should go.
Taking the long view, PANTS, a less transphobic world is a safer one for your wife, just as a less homophobic world is a safer one for effeminate straight men. So instead of fantasizing about what to say or do to a bigot—as if a single quip or punch ever prompted a bigot to see the error of his ways (Richard Spencer is still an asshole despite the punch heard (and celebrated) around the world)—you should join the fight for trans rights. Donate time and/or money to organizations that assist the trans community. Write to elected officials and tell them you support the trans community and expect your representatives to do the same. Let your LGBTQ friends know you have their backs and offer to join them at the barricades, when needed. And check in with your wife, PANTS, to make sure she feels supported. But don't burden her by escalating confrontations when she prefers to deescalate—or by taking a swing at someone she would rather get the hell away from.