Chris Christie’s been getting a lot of mileage out of anti-trans bigotry lately. It wasn’t enough for the presidential hopeful to veto — and laugh about — a bill that would have made it easier for trans people to change their gender identity on their birth certificate. Yesterday, he implied that questions about their own gender identity are too confusing for kids who are already confused about terrorism, so it’s best not to accommodate them.
From CNN, on Christie’s answer to a question about California’s recently-passed law allowing high schoolers to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identities:
Christie responded by joking that life is simpler in New Jersey, “Men go to men’s rooms, women go to women’s rooms and there really shouldn’t be a whole lot of confusion about that — public accommodations. And I don’t think we should be making life more confusing for our children.”
He quickly pivoted to his bigger concern that terrorism is making growing up too confusing for children.
“Life is confusing enough right now for our children,” Christie said. “Think about those kids in Los Angeles who last week had their entire district closed because of a threat. Think about what they felt like the next day when they went back to school. Did they feel completely comfortable, did they feel like they were safe? How did their mothers and fathers feel when they sent them to school that day? And now today the Nashua schools are closed, based on a threat as well. How are those kids going to feel when they go back to school?”
There’s a lot going on here. First, yes, men go to men’s rooms and women go to women’s rooms, but since when does Chris Christie get to decide who’s a man and who’s a woman? Second, I’d imagine that when high schoolers in Los Angeles went back to school after classes were canceled over an obvious hoax, terrorism wasn’t the first thing on their minds. If anything, the wild-eyed paranoia that led to the district to err too far on the side of caution is the most confusing thing about the whole episode, and Christie, by leaving out the fact that the terror “threat” in Los Angeles wasn’t at all credible, is adding to that confusion.
Either way, that has precisely nothing to do with gender identity — which is made much more confusing when a teenager is told that their sense of self is actually incorrect.
Christie wasn’t done, though. As CNN continues:
[Christie] then cited the San Bernardino attacks as proof that “every place in America is a potential target for terrorism” before coming back to his broader point that “children learn better, grow up better, mature better when they live in a safe and secure and loving environment.”
“The fact though is that we want our kids not to have to decide which bathroom they get to go in. And not to be subject to peer pressure about which one to go in. And not to be subject to the embarrassment that could come with going in a bathroom where somebody maybe doesn’t agree that they should be in there or not,” Christie said.
“Why do we do this to our children? It doesn’t make any sense. So I don’t know. I’m the common sense guy from New Jersey, you know, I don’t think life needs to be this complicated. I think it needs to be a lot more straightforward.”
Here, Christie is effectively saying that we can save our kids the hassle of being bullied by their classmates by having the government do the bullying for them. If we don’t let trans kids be trans, Christie argues, then no one will make fun of them for being trans. It’s so simple! Just use the government to cover everyone’s eyes and plug everyone’s ears, and the issue (because it is an issue) will go away on its own!
Life is complicated. Gender is complicated. Terrorism is really, really complicated. No matter how strong Christie’s need for cognitive closure may be, he can’t change those things.