In his column describing the gender-blasting chalk drawings seen across campus several weeks ago (“Gender nonconformists provoke uncharted dialogue,” 11/30), Joshua Wright ’02 named two reactions he had observed to the inflammatory art: irritation and puzzlement.
In the spirit of destroying all binary systems, I would like to offer a third: outrage.
The chalkings, which ranged from obscene to just plain silly, were drawn by TGAY (Trannies and Genderqueers At Yale), an organization that is dedicated to opposing gender. Regardless of how wrong TGAY’s gender-shouldn’t-exist dogma may or may not be, they are, of course, free to voice their opinion.
But the problem with TGAY is how they chose to do so.
While the least provocative of their scrawlings were either nonsensical or confusing, some of their drawings were clearly meant to be offensive and can rightly be classified as hate speech.
The group chalked each of the three walkways leading up to Sterling Memorial Library with the labels “men,” “women,” and “others (i.e., cool people).” Imagine if, instead of “men,” “women,” and “others,” someone had written “blacks,” “Hispanics,” and “whites,” or “gays,” “lesbians,” and “straights.”
There would be an uproar over the bigoted graffiti.
In this case, however, since we are so conditioned to be sensitive to minority rights, and the authors of the graffiti are a small minority, people — and perhaps TGAY members themselves — tend not to realize that the so-called victims of prejudice are being just as prejudiced as, if not more than, whoever they oppose.
When someone chooses to print “F— your gender” in large letters in the middle of Cross Campus, we all ought to be as outraged as if someone had written it on our own home. The Yale campus is where we live, and everyone has an equal share in it.
In addition, the campus presents Yale to the outside world of visitors. TGAY should not take it upon itself to send home a week’s worth of touring families with children, prospective students, visiting alumni, and other guests with an image of Yale’s central campus dominated by the image of the words “F— your gender.”
TGAY claims to want to make people question gender, but defacing the campus with offensive and cryptic drawings is no way to start a dialogue on the issue; it merely results in more people viewing their cause with disdain.
It is very possible that TGAY does not even have any real intentions, and are simply being activists for the sake of being activists and to get attention for themselves — a goal which, regrettably, I am helping them achieve by challenging their actions.
This idea is certainly supported by the remarks of the group’s founder, Myles Gideon ’02. When asked what TGAY planned to do for the year, Gideon said, “I don’t know yet. It doesn’t really matter; the most important thing to me is just that there be a group like this at Yale.”
If TGAY members really do have a serious aim in advancing some kind of radical gender theory, they should leave the beautiful Yale campus alone and focus on expressing their opinions in appropriate ways, like publishing academic papers and writing newspaper articles.
Otherwise, they reveal themselves to be out only to offend and to capture attention for themselves.
John Goodman is a freshman in Pierson College.