Anti-trans myth making

Myths are often greater than reality.

Consider Napoleon Bonaparte, the leader of France during the early 1800s. You likely believe that he was exceptionally short, and his stature has often been used as a pretext for his ferocity in battle. There’s even a complex named after this. 

But Napoleon was around 5’ 7” by many accounts, and certainly of at least average height for his time. It was the British press, most notably its cartoonists, who portrayed him as a short, angry despot — and their caricatures have created a common misconception that remains stronger than any reality.

In my life, I’ve seen quite a few such things, like the Apollo conspiracy theory, where people have felt that something as monumental as the moon landing was perpetrated on a soundstage, or similar beliefs about the JFK assassination, the 9/11 attack, and even the supposed flatness of the Earth are all deeply hidden Government secrets that “they” don’t want you to know. 

Today, we see any number of stories spun up far worse than any cartoon depicting a short French leader. There are numerous conspiracy theories that have been all but weaponized, with the QAnon conspiracy of baby consuming Satanists running a pedophilic sex trafficking ring at the highest levels of society likely being number one on the list.  

Much like QAnon, there are hundreds of other such conspiracy theories, usually affecting members of the right wing: the death of Seth Rich, both the 2016 and 2020 election, the birthplace of former President Barack Obama, Hunter Biden’s laptop, the Deep State, COVID-19, masks, and vaccinations are just the top of that particular iceberg.

Most of these are created on the flimsiest of evidence, or even no evidence at all. They simply have to feel right to their believers. Just having something that somehow shores up their beliefs is enough.

Enter, once again, the transgender bathroom predator.

It has been years since anti-trans panic was spun up to defeat LGBTQ laws such as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) in 2015. The entire argument hinges on people believing that such bills would lead to a flood of male predators claiming to be trans women in order to have easy access to women and children in bathrooms. 

The same argument was put further in scores of additional fights, even this year as Tennessee enacted a law requiring businesses to display a prominent sign in their windows, should they allow trans people to use the facilities. Until a just recently blocked implementation, that sign was to read, “NOTICE: THIS FACILITY MAINTAINS A POLICY OF ALLOWING THE USE OF RESTROOMS BY EITHER BIOLOGICAL SEX, REGARDLESS OF THE DESIGNATION ON THE RESTROOM.” 

Yes, in all caps, boldface, and on a sign a minimum of 6” tall

In all these years, there has been scant evidence of anyone actually taking advantage of non-transgender women or girls in such facilities. Indeed, the only stories that have cropped up have been from men attempting to root out transgender women from women’s restrooms, usually only angering non-transgender women who they erroneously targeted. 

Enter Wi Spa.

Wi Spa is a Korean-owned, LGBTQ-friendly spa in Los Angeles. Wi Spa has a few transgender clients, and those clients are welcome to use facilities congruent with their gender identity. 

On the 24th of June, an Instagram user named “cubanaangel” posted a video where she complained to the Wi Spa staff about the presence of a trans woman — who she referred to as a man — attending the spa that day. She further claimed that both women and girls in the spa were offended by the presence of the trans women’s genitalia. The video cuts off just as the woman is about to confront the trans woman herself.

Yet a report in the Los Angeles Blade casts doubt on this user’s report, as an anonymous LAPD source has told the Blade that they have found no cooperating evidence that a transgender woman was at the spa that day. Wi Spa, too, noted that none of its usual transgender clients had appointments that day. All of their trans clients are well-known by the staff, and access to the spa is by appointment only.

Likewise, “cubanaangel’s” Instagram account is predominately Christian memes, making one question why she would opt to go to a known LGBTQ friendly spa. No one has corroborated her story. This is also not the first time the spa has been targeted for being trans friendly. 

Nevertheless, a right-wing protest spun up on the 3rd of July, attracting religious fundamentalists, right-wing Proud Boys, and QAnon believers. Counter protestors also showed up, and some were attacked in the following standoff. A second protest is in the works, even as right-wing pundits like Tucker Carlson fan the flames. All this for a spa visit that likely never happened, involving a transgender person who was almost certainly not there.

In the end, will that matter?

For years, the right has been seeking tales of transgender predators, and “cubanaangel’s” myth making can be just what they need. It won’t matter than no transgender person was there: transgender people have been there in the past, and even if no activities have ever taken place, that is close enough to spin this year. It confirmed their biases, and will be used as their rallying cry. 

Add that the spa is Korean owned, and I’m sure the anti-Asian crowd will be plenty happy about all this, too. 

Myths are often greater than reality — but this myth needs to die a very quick death, before more of us do.

Gwen Smith hates fighting fabricated facts. You’ll find her at www.gwensmith.com/.