Attendees of a recent transgender conference at Roehampton University in London were provided with “traffic light safe space badges” to indicate whether they were willing to engage in conversations with others, the Sunday Times reported. The green, amber and red lanyards were dispensed to scholars present at the “Thinking Beyond: Transversal Transfeminisms” symposium, a one-day event purportedly organized in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the ban on transgenders in his nation’s military, the “rampant transphobia in U.K. feminist circles,” and other perceived slights.
If an attendee sported a green badge, it meant
he or she they were open to speaking with other
delegates and welcomed being approached. A yellow badge meant, “I will approach
you if I wish to speak.” A red one
signified, “I do not wish to speak with other delegates.” And also that, “I am
a pussy who can’t tolerate hearing other people’s opinions because I can’t
defend my own.”
Not all the academics in attendance were comfortable with the badges they were instructed to wear, with at least one noting: “To have this kind of traffic-light system simply encourages fragility.”
His comment surely prompted many of his fellow eggheads to frantically display their red badges.
“Conference” and “symposium” are synonyms for “discussion.” How does letting attendees flash yellow or red lights facilitate discussion? How did we become so quick to take offense, so easily traumatized? What if past gatherings had utilized this same “technique?” What if, for example, delegates at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 had been instructed to use these same traffic-light safe space badges? What if delegates from smaller states, attempting to protect their state’s rights, approached those of the larger states and found them all sporting red badges and plugging their ears with their index fingers? Well, so much for the Connecticut Compromise of proportional representation in the House, and two representatives of each state in the Senate. Oh, well. What if those who believed there was no need for a Bill of Rights flashed their red badges and ran for their safe spaces when in the proximity of those who proposed one?
On second thought, if I was at the Roehampton conference and someone wished to speak to me about “Transversal Transfeminisms,” I know what color I’d flash.