Conservatives Scared of Imagined “Terrorist Transvestites”

Rob Long, at the Wall Street Journal, is concerned that the world may no longer be able to protect itself from terrorist transvestites.

His hilarious fear stems from a UN report notable for its nuance and sensitivity towards people who find themselves marginalized due to their gender expression.

Martin Scheinin, UN Special Rapporteur, wrote a report for the UN General Assembly titled “Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”.

In it, he makes ‘controversial’ statements like:

Gender is not synonymous with women but rather encompasses the social constructions that underlie how women’s and men’s roles, functions and responsibilities, including in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, are defined and understood. This report will therefore identify the gendered impact of counter-terrorism measures both on women and men, as well as the rights of persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. As a social construct, gender is also informed by, and intersects with, various other means by which roles, functions and responsibilities are perceived and practiced, such as race, ethnicity, culture, religion and class. Consequently, gender is not static; it is changeable over time and across contexts. Understanding gender as a social and shifting construct rather than as a biological and fixed category is important because it helps to identify the complex and inter-related gender-based human rights violations caused by counterterrorism measures; to understand the underlying causes of these violations; and to design strategies for countering terrorism that are truly non-discriminatory and inclusive of all actors.


These abuses on the basis of gender are amplified through war rhetoric (such as with the “war on terror”) and increased militarization in countering terrorism. It is well documented that utilizing conflict or war rhetoric serves to stereotype, marginalize and profile those who challenge or fall outside the boundaries of predetermined gender roles, including women’s human rights defenders. In addition, the privileging of a militarized response to terrorism has meant that funds to combat terrorism have been diverted from addressing the socio-economic conditions that may be conducive to terrorism, such as those involving gender inequalities.


The breadth of Governments’ counter-terrorism measures have resulted in significant gender-based human rights violations. In many instances, Governments have used vague and broad definitions of “terrorism” to punish those who do not conform to traditional gender roles and to suppress social movements that seek gender equality in the protection of human rights. For example, Governments have alleged terrorism links to justify the arrest and persecution of “suspected ‘homosexuals’” and regularly accuse women’s human rights defenders of being members of terrorist groups.

Now he’s really on a roll…

It is of special concern to the Special Rapporteur that some Governments have used gender inequality to counter terrorism, employing the rights of women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals as a bartering tool to appease terrorist or extremist groups in ways that have furthered unequal gender relations and subjected such persons to increased violence. For instance, the Government of Somalia reportedly failed to enact measures enhancing women’s rights for fear that it would alienate conservative forces. Similarly, in February 2009, following the Pakistani army’s failure to defeat an 18-month Talibani insurgency in the Swat Valley, Pakistan signed a peace accord with the militants agreeing to implement the Taliban’s version of Islamic law in exchange for peace.

And here’s where he just gets crazy with all this human rights talk:

Counter-terrorism measures disproportionately affect women and transgender asylum-seekers, refugees and immigrants in specific ways. For example, enhanced immigration controls that focus attention on male bombers who may be dressing as females to avoid scrutiny make transgender persons susceptible to increased harassment and suspicion. Similarly, counter-terrorism measures that involve increased travel document security, such as stricter procedures for issuing, changing and verifying identity documents, risk unduly penalizing transgender persons whose personal appearance and data are subject to change. This jeopardizes the right of persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities to recognition before the law. In this regard, the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity identify that States must “ensure that procedures exist whereby all State-issued identity papers which indicate a person’s gender/sex … reflect the person’s profound self-defined gender identity”.

Fox News can’t refrain from piling it on, finding the following conclusions of the report objectionable:

Among [Scheinen’s] proposals:

• “Repeal all counter-terrorism measures” that sanction the ill-treatment of women and children as a way to put pressure on terror suspects within their families.

• Loosen terror financing laws to ensure “safe and effective channels for funding … of organizations devoted to gender equality”

• “Repeal restrictive immigration controls” that violate human rights by “unduly penalizing transgender persons whose personal appearance and data are subject to change” as their “self-defined gender identity” changes.

Critics say the suggestions are part of an “absolutely insane” agenda at the U.N. that too often seems intent on undermining efforts to blot out terrorism across the globe.

“I would be surprised and disturbed if the U.S. took any of these recommendations seriously,” said Steven Groves, a fellow and international law expert at the Heritage Foundation.

Mr. Long, describing the annoyance of airport security, mockingly writes:

And of course your first thought is: “I know all of these security measures are hard for me, but they’re probably worse for the transgendered.”

He writes this because he assumes it’s obviously ridiculous to consider the needs of trans people. Mr. Groves at Fox says that it would be disturbing if anyone took discrimination against women or LGBT individuals seriously. He says unnamed critics find equal treatment and protection “absolutely insane”.

These men are not alone in these sentiments, nor in feeling free to publicly mock mistreatment of women and queers, so long as it’s in the name of counter-terrorism. There are dozens of male bloggers out there who join with them in the derision parade, as a few quick google blog searches reveal.

What sickening sentiment. Straight white men, who will never suffer gender or sexual orientation discrimination, are disparaging equal protection of the marginalized and think they can get away with it by shouting equality = TERRORISM THREAT!!!!

It’s a cover. These men are simply using TERRORISM!!! as an excuse to publicly exhibit their misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. If they are this shameless, I don’t understand why they need an excuse. I guess they are worried that their naked chauvinism would normally make their opinions seem less credible to others, but that certain situations provide a safe opportunity to sneak it in.

How convenient that they find so necessary counter-terrorism methods that just so happen to have disparately negative effects on women and queers. They find such a strong voice to defend this sort of unequal treatment. Why is it the conserarati are so thrilled to give up basic rights and freedoms in the name of FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM AGAINST THE TERRORISTS!!!!! ?

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