Randy Thomasson

by D’Anne Witkowski

Remember when you got your driver’s license and under “Gender” you had to choose Male, Female, or AIDS?

Of course you don’t, because three gender options don’t exist on a driver’s license form. Yet.
But California might change that. A bill in the works since January would allow a third non-binary gender option for official state documents.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Lawmakers framed the measure as an expansion of rights for transgender, intersex and other people who do not identify as male or female.”

And I know what you’re thinking: “But AIDS isn’t a gender. WTF?” Well, OF COURSE you think that because you’ve been brainwashed.

But Randy Thomasson knows what’s up and he’s crying foul.

Thomasson, the man behind Save California, a Christian website dedicated to alarmist anti-LGBTQ stories that claims to be “pro-family,” had plenty to say about California’s gender code when he was a guest on fellow right-wing screwball Gordon Klingenschmitt’s “Pray In Jesus Name News” program.

“[This bill] would put in a third option on a driver’s license, non-binary,” says Thomasson. “And what that basically means is not male, not female, something else. But non-binary is a catch-all for any sexual anything.”

Woah. Any sexual ANYTHING? That’s, um, pretty broad. Care to clarify?

“University of California Berkley has on their own website a list of all the possible genders, and we’re talking two, three dozens of these made up genders,” Thomasson continues, “and they haven’t even gotten into those who have relationships with, uh, computers or animals yet. It’s just total anarchy.”

Oh, okay. Thomasson clearly doesn’t understand, and doesn’t care to understand, the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation. Or the difference between a human being and a USB Flash drive, for that matter.

“I’m really broken in my heart about the confusion that it would be for children,” Thomasson continues. “A 15 year old getting a learner’s permit or a 16 year old getting a driver’s license, going into the DMV in California being asked, ‘Well, do you put yourself down as male, female, or non-binary?’ The basic question is telling children there’s more than two genders and that we’ve got to forget about science and chromosomes.”

Oh, NOW you care in science? How convenient. It also takes willful ignorance to think a 15 year old is going to discover non-binary identity for the first time at the DMV and declare that from now on preferred pronouns are “they/them.”

Which leads us to the AIDS option.

“It’s a very dangerous thing,” Thomasson says, “because we have to remember even the Centers for Disease Control … website declares that transexuality/cross-dressing is the highest transmitter of HIV/AIDS in our land, and it’s even more dangerous than homosexuality.”

Klingenschmitt jumps in to clarify that it’s “not the clothes that you wear that are transmitting this disease, it’s the behavior where you’re swapping blood and other bodily fluids with people who have AIDS.”

“Right,” says Thomasson.

But is it right? Does the CDC really warn that “cross-dressers” have higher AIDS rates? No. But the CDC website does have info about increased risk for transgender men and women, which is not the same as cross-dressers. They present a complex series of obstacles trans people face that may lead to increased risk including “stigma, discrimination, social rejection, and exclusion” and “insensitivity to transgender issues by health care providers.” It’s not because they just can’t help but swap boldly fluids because they’re especially deviant or predatory.

But that doesn’t fit the right-wing Christian narrative that AIDS is punishment for sin and that trans people are nothing but beacons of sexual depravity. In other words, trans people aren’t human at all. Quite convenient when your aim is to deny them basic human rights.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.