Thursday, June 2, 2011

Roller Derby Is Better Than This

The roller derby community is supposed to be a place where people can be themselves, express who they are, and engage in a really fun contact sport. It's a subculture built on including those of us who often find ourselves outside the mainstream - that is why I was drawn to it in the first place. It looked like a place where I can be whoever I am, and for me, with my team, that has absolutely been the case. I have tested the bounds of my team's supportiveness and never once found it lacking.

Unfortunately, not every team is as great as mine. Last weekend, members from one team, along with their coach, security guard, and fans (including the parents of one of the skaters) ganged up on and humiliated an NSO from the other league. In brief, they were policing her gender identity, calling her a man and asking her to lift her skirt to prove that she is a woman. They harassed and harangued her, and humiliated her in front of the entire audience. The NSO in question is a woman and had therefore used the women's restroom. Apparently the people who harassed her felt it was there place to be sure she had peed in what they thought was the right place, "for the sake of the children." Both the NSO and I are wondering what children have to do with it.

The offending league issued a milquetoast statement on Facebook saying they are "sorry for any inconvenience" the events of the evening caused the derby community. Excuse me? Any inconvenience? This is not a question of convenience. It is a question of civil rights. She has the right to her identity, her humanity, and to not be violently harassed in public.

The statement also said they hope to host "safe" and "family-friendly" events. I cannot for the life of me imagine how raising a ruckus, harassing an innocent person, and behaving like bigoted asshole fucks is "safe" or "family-friendly." I know I'm not a parent, but I'm pretty sure that treating people as inhumanely as the harassers did is not setting a good example for the kiddies. It's just making the world a less safe place.

There is no excuse for this behavior. None at all. I hope the people in question are deeply ashamed of themselves and that they are no longer invited to be part of their league. I will certainly never participate in an event with them. I expect the larger community will have all kinds of things to say about this.


  1. I truly hope that there are repercussions for those who were involved in the torment of this woman. This is just not acceptable behavior! I'm with you--I don't understand how they can claim that their harassment constituted anything remotely resembling "safe" or "family-friendly." And that so-called apology is a massive piece of absolute bullshit.

  2. Yes, the "apology" just adds insult to injury, I think.

    It's my understanding that this woman has had a lot of support from the derby community. Unfortunately, a lot of real shitheels are backing up the offending league, too.