If Jeffrey Toobin Was a Trans Woman…

He’d be banished from public life forever. Instead, media men are imploring for forgiveness.

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(Credit: Mychal Watts/Getty Images)

New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin was suspended Monday for allegedly masturbating on camera during an election-related Zoom call, according to a VICE report. The details of the incident quickly caught the attention of social media users, who immediately mocked the journalist and CNN legal analyst.

Toobin’s excuse was that he didn’t realize that his camera was on and he could be seen by his New Yorker colleagues, without acknowledging that he probably should have at least waited for non-work time to whip out his hog.

“I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers,” Toobin told Motherboard. “I believed I was not visible on Zoom. I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me. I thought I had muted the Zoom video.”

Despite the social media mockery over Toobin’s suspension, some of his media colleagues took to his defense in an amazing display of male solidarity, pleading for forgiveness for a bumbling man who simply misunderstood technology and exhibited some poor judgment.

The actions of men like Toobin, at this point, are unsurprising to any woman who makes her way through the world. We’re subject to unwanted dick displays in just about any context of life these days. Not counting dick pics in Twitter DMs, I was exposed to my first unwanted dick on a DC Metro ride that I mistakenly thought was safe at 10 pm.

I was the only woman in the car and a man kept hissing for the “pretty lady” to look his way. I knew what was happening immediately and kept my eyes locked on my phone until I reached the next station, where I quickly changed cars. Nonetheless, I could still hear his labored breathing and muffled moans from 5 feet away.

That aside, I want to ask a hypothetical about Toobin and his male media defenders. What if Toobin had been caught doing the same thing, but he was a trans woman?

Besides the fact that there are no trans people of Toobin’s stature in media, the answer is he’d be instantly deleted from public life, and his actions would be cast upon the entire trans community.

The Atlantic staff writer Conor Friedersdorf proposed that Toobin be treated with “empathy, politeness, and forgiveness” even while his journalist colleagues treat issues like trans access to restrooms, locker rooms, and critical sexual assault support like a matter of public debate.

In fact, trans women are presupposed to be predisposed to the type of gross, wanton — and public — sexual behavior that Toobin exhibited during his misguided Zoom crank session. Trans women are assumed to possess all the worst predilections of the worst sexual predators the cis male world has to offer, and are pre-punished for it with exclusion from public life.

One of the reasons there are no trans women Jeffrey Toobins is because the bias faced by trans women centers on the belief that we’d.. well… be constantly Toobin’ing our tubes.

In the real media world, those who are bigoted against trans women and want to ban us from critical sex-based spaces we need for safety have “reasonable concerns” while the Jeffrey Toobins of the world are simply confused, doddering old men who can’t help but have a little fistular pleasure in front of colleagues.

I just want to let you know that we see it and we see you for who you are. Jeffrey Toobin deserves whatever punishment or mockery he gets, and I’d say the same for any trans woman caught doing what he did. But the fact is that trans women don’t deserve to be hung in the public square for the actions of disgusting cis men.

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