Does It Really Come Down to Pee-Shy Men?

The editorial in the Washington Post could not have been clearer or more direct: “For almost two years, transgender men and women have been allowed to openly serve in the military. There have been no problems; ‘precisely zero’ were the exact words last April of Army Chief of Staff Mark A. Milley. Hundreds of transgender troops have been deployed without incident to combat zones. Commanders have singled out transgender troops for praise. Despite the success of this inclusive policy, the Trump administration has not abandoned its efforts to restrict military service by transgender men and women. Sadly, it got a boost from the Supreme Court. We hope that triumph will be just temporary, but already there has been damage done to the country and the patriotic transgender Americans who want to serve it.”

But a fat lot of good it will do to change Rump’s flatly discriminatory policy of excluding trans folks from serving in the United States military, especially now that the Supreme Court has come down on the side of discrimination. After all, Rump hates the Washington Post, owned as it is by Jeff Bezos, who created Amazon and became the richest man in the world.

Maybe I’m naive, but I just don’t understand what the problem is with trans service members. That an intimate personal matter could provide the basis for keeping an entire class of people from serving their country is beyond my comprehension. Would someone please tell me what difference it makes? The sheer arbitrariness of the ruling is exceeded only by its cruelty. I’ve become convinced that it’s somehow all about bathrooms. Anything having to do with bathrooms is sure to cause mortal panic among the citizenry.

That’s what it all comes down to — bathrooms, the site of enormous anxiety for many if not most men. (I can’t speak to women’s bathroom anxieties, except to note that the reason those incredible Japanese toilets play a little song while you do your business is that Japanese women don’t want anyone to hear them fart.)

I couldn’t sleep the other night, and to kill time I was fooling around with YouTube. I hadn’t realized that there was an entire genre of videos devoted to the topic of male urinal anxiety. There must have been 20 or 25 videos depicting young guys panicking about potential breeches of urinal etiquette. Some were pretty funny, but they all shared exactly the same themes and regulations. For example, you must never under any circumstances use a urinal next to one that’s currently in use. You must never make eye contact with anyone in the men’s room, with the possible exception of a bro-ish glance that lasts no longer than 2 seconds. And you must never, ever check out another guy’s cock.

Now these of course are straight men’s rules. In classic gay tearoom culture, the rules are precisely reversed. That’s the whole point.

So is that it? Is the strict regulation of bathroom behavior behind the trans ban? Does male castration anxiety play into it? Does it all come down to the terrors of potential genital surgery while transitioning? I think I may be onto something.

Speaking of the regimentation of heterosexual male behavior, what I was chiefly poking around YouTube for was my favorite spectator sport: collegiate wrestling. To say that it’s the gayest sport in the world doesn’t begin to capture the degree of its eroticism. First there’s the matter of costuming. Fantastically lean but muscular college boys are all running around in tight, stretchy singlets that leave little to the imagination. In fact they leave nothing to the imagination. As if to make a point about it, the wrestlers are constantly adjusting and readjusting themselves.

Once the match gets going, you may as well be watching porn. One guy gets his head caught between the other guy’s thighs thereby forcing the first guy to stare directly, humiliatingly (or delightfully) at the other guy’s crotch. Ass grabbing is not just a treat; it’s practically the sport’s raison d’etre.

Follow @edsikov on Twitter and Facebook.