Fact: there are transgendered people who live in a constant state of physical and sexual terror. In the last few years there’s been an increase in gang rapes, sexualized torture, and murders of transgendered women and men. Paradoxically, all of this violence is happening at a time when more and more people are fighting to affirm the rights of the LGBTQIA community. Much of the violence and fear transgendered people are experiencing is a last-ditch effort to push them back into the closet. This violence has no place in our society.
Last Friday, as a guest on “The Breakfast Club”, Lil Duval opened himself up to the full wrath of the LGBTQIA community and their allies when he said, “This might sound messed up, but I don’t care, she dying,”. His response was to a question about a hypothetical sexual encounter with a woman who turned out to be a transgendered man. By Saturday, people who’ve never heard his name had an opinion about him and his comedy. By Sunday, there were calls to boycott “The Breakfast Club” for giving him a platform.
Washington Post / The Breakfast Club / YouTube
This controversy is playing out on social media- that’s good and bad. Social media is a great snapshot of what people are thinking at any given moment, but the caustic environment found on many platforms make civil discussions almost impossible. There are hundreds of articles and blog posts attacking Lil Duval’s words, but what’s lacking is a serious dialogue about consent and what rights a man has in a sexual encounter of this nature.
Disclaimer: I’m not attempting to defend Lil Duval or his statements.
Central to this discussion is the question of how much information about a potential sex partner is needed in order to give consent? If someone had a history of sexually transmitted diseases do you have the right to know? If someone is married or has a significant other do you have the right to know? If someone is addicted to alcohol or drugs would that have an effect on your decision to have sex with them? If someone was born the same gender as you do you have a right to know?
Our society has no problem identifying a sex crime when the victim is a woman or child, but what rights, if any, do men have when it comes to sexual disclosure of a partner with a non-binary gender identity? I know I’ll be accused of centering the rights of men, but it was a man’s answer to this question that started the conversation. It’s possible for a CIS gendered male to hold no animosity towards the LGBTQIA community, and be upset if they were deceived into a sexual relationship they didn’t consent to. I don’t know if this factored into Lil Duval’s answer, but we can’t be so shocked by his response that we ignore what prompted it. People have a right to choose their sexual partners. This isn’t a controversial position to hold. When women aren’t given a choice, it’s rape. Children can’t consent so it’s rape, and a man who isn’t given enough information to consent is raped.
With all of the work that’s been done to educate people about sexual assault it’s reasonable to expect adults to know what constitutes consent and what’s considered rape. Sex without consent is rape. It doesn’t matter what someone is wearing, what kind of reputation they have, or if you’ve had past sexual encounters with them. Every sex act should be consented to. This isn’t complicated; unless the sex act in question is between a man and a member of the transgender community.
Lil Duval’s comments were seen as crude, crass, and offensive by a large segment of our society, but they also resonated with many of his core supporters. Transgendered people are under attack. They face threats many of us don’t see or have to worry about. Their fight is as existentially important to them as any fight anyone faces. I won’t disconnect their terror from this conversation, but we can’t allow that terror to usurp another person’s right to choose.