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“Time for a National Pee-In Movement”: The collected collaborative works of America’s wussiest law professor and the transgender woman who allegedly took him to the cleaners

July 26, 2019

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From “The Most Gullible Man in Cambridge,” Kera Bolonik’s story in the Cut about ultra-liberal Harvard law professor Bruce Hay, allegedly fleeced out of his home, his job, and more than $300,000 of his money in cash and legal fees by transgender woman (and Harvard grad student) Mischa Haider and her cisgender sidekick Maria-Pia Shuman, a self-described lesbian who claimed that Hay was the father of a baby conceived while Hay (who was living with his ex-wife, Jennifer Zacks, and their own two children) and Shuman were fooling around in hotel rooms in 2015:

Shuman had told him that Haider was weary of her physics program and wanted to get more involved in trans activism and write about trans issues. “I thought, Maybe I could help?,” recalls Hay. “She had been described to me as this very exceptional person but downtrodden, treated unfairly by her family and by the world. By her body. By the time I met Mischa, I had a protective feeling for her.”…

In the weeks leading up to [Shuman’s] January [2016] due date, Hay used his publishing connections to help Haider pursue her writing. They began collaborating on projects. “I felt duty-bound to help this brilliant person blossom,” Hay says. Haider asked him to share a byline, but he usually served as more of an editor and agent, reaching out to magazine editors to help place their work….

And so began the joint Hay-Haider literary career:

“Toward Comprehensive Protection for Trans Rights,” by Bruce Hay and Mischa Haider, HuffPost, January. 8, 2016:

Given…the more general refusal to grant trans individuals the civil and economic rights most people take for granted, the imperative to act should be evident. The real question is what form such action should take. Some may consider it politically expedient to settle for ambiguous and often humiliating concessions to trans people, such as segregated changing rooms for trans children or policies granting trans people rights based on their ability to “pass” for their true gender — but one must beware of such halfway measures….

The baby was born on Jan. 14, 2016–but Shuman, irked that Hay hadn’t moved out from his ex-wife, named Haider as its father on the birth certificate. From Belonik’s article:

…[T]he women’s calls and texts intensified, taking on an increasingly combative tone. They berated him for “having fun with [his] family in Paris” while Shuman was suffering from postpartum depression. They complained that Haider had been left to care for both Shuman and the new baby, forcing her to postpone gender-affirmation surgery, which was exacerbating her depression. At one point, Haider told Hay she was going to a euthanasia clinic in Zurich, before Hay talked her out of it.

Euthanasia clinic or no, soon enough Hay and Haider were collaborating on this startling manifesto:

“Time for a National Pee-In Movement?,” by Mischa Haider and Bruce Hay, Advocate, April 6, 2016

Not since the days of whites-only facilities has this country seen bigotry implemented by means of physical segregation as is done in the transphobic bathroom bills. One of the most potent ways in which black activists challenged racial segregation was by visibly and openly refusing to adhere to its strictures — for example, by sitting at forbidden lunch counters. The cruelty and backwardness of the segregationists was exposed for all to see, in stark contrast to the quiet dignity of the activists who refused to be dehumanized. Taking a page from history, trans activists and advocates should likewise destroy the veil of shame and invisibility being imposed on trans Americans.

Collectively and openly, in their rainbow of appearances, they should enter gendered spaces in defiance of the segregationists. The movement needs a ground campaign, a peaceful series of “pee-ins” across the nation that will bring a face and an image to this struggle.

As the spring of 2016 settled into summer, according to Belonik’s article:

When they fought, Shuman would threaten to cut off contact between Hay and the baby. “I was very upset with how brutally they were treating me,” he says. “I didn’t know what to do.”

But that didn’t deter Hay and Haider from getting together to focus on bathrooms one more time:

“Writing a Different Story for Trans Rights,” by Mischa Haider and Bruce Hay, Advocate, May 17, 2016:

Laws forbidding people to use facilities corresponding to their gender identity are nothing more than “state-sponsored discrimination against transgender individuals, who simply seek to engage in the most private of functions in a place of safety and security — a right taken for granted by most of us.”

Such laws convert the most banal aspects of daily life into a source of intense distress and trauma for transgender people, making it an ordeal to even go out in public.

Things were going downhill for Hay and Haider on the personal front:

Still, Hay began to entertain doubts about the women. Their mood swings could be hard to take

But not on the literary front, where they jointly penned yet another piece about–you guessed it–bathrooms:

“The Curious Case of the Anti-Trans New Yorker Article,” by Mischa Haider and Bruce Hay, Advocate, June 16, 2016:

Now more than ever, we need to be thinking clearly about legal protections for the safety and dignity of the LGBTQ community. One crucial source of protection is Title IX, the federal law providing that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” On the basis of which the Obama administration has issued guidelines to the nation’s schools to ensure they are allowed to use the facilities that match their authentic gender identity….

Nonetheless, the administration is under attack not only by right-wing cranks and political opportunists, but by mainstream commentators who have a real blind spot when it comes to trans safety and equality. A distressing case in point is a recent article in The New Yorker by Jeannie Suk, who criticizes the administration for taking the “bold and controversial” step of protecting transgender students without following “lawful processes,” and asserts that “parents’ rhetoric of federal overreach is not off-base.”

Hah! Title IX! Fast-forward a couple of months:

By that time, Haider had already sent an email to Harvard student services offering to report an unnamed professor for harassment. She continued sending emails to Harvard administrators throughout the fall, often bcc-ing Hay. In one, dated November 11, 2016, to the program officer of Title IX and professional conduct, she wrote, “I have been in an extremely abusive situation with a faculty member and it has been taking a tremendous toll on me. I’m sorry I have not reached out earlier but coming to this decision was difficult and painful. My functioning on many levels has gone to zero, my interest in anything has vanished, I’m transgender and it has taken a horrific toll on my transition.”

No matter–less than two weeks later Haider summoned up the functioning to collaborate with Hay on this;:

“Never Trump, and Never Again,” by Bruce Hay and Mischa Haider, HuffPost, November 22, 2016

Amid the despair and meteoric rise in hate crime following the November 8 election, we are also being confronted with the horrific spectacle of white supremacists and right-wing extremists taking top positions in the next administration. The Alt-Right (Alt-Reich would be a better term) is hailing its new leader with neo-Nazi salutes, and plans are underway for a registration database for Muslims….

Early December 2016:

Haider and Shuman tried to reach Hay on his landline and discovered Zacks had blocked their number. They left a message on his cell: Tell Jennifer to unblock us or we’re coming over. When he didn’t respond, they showed up at his house and had their first face-to-face encounter with Zacks while Hay’s oldest son filmed the incident on his iPhone. It was night and the video is dark, but you can hear Haider shout at Zacks in a harsh staccato: “It is not our fault that Bruce got her pregnant! Do you understand that?” as Hay’s younger children cry in the background. Shuman berates Hay for “yelling at us” instead of at his older son, whom they order to stop filming. Hay then moves toward his son as if to block the camera, and you can hear Hay sigh. “Listen, they aren’t well,” Hay tells him. The confrontation ends when the police arrive; no charges were filed.

The women returned to the house again just before Christmas. Zacks again called the cops. The next day, the women sent texts to Hay calling him a “rapist” who needed to be reported to authorities. He started receiving texts from an unknown number: “You will not get away with rape.”

Early February 2017:

“The Only Thing Standing Between Trump and Authoritarianism: The Supreme Court,” by Mischa Haider and Bruce Hay, Guardian, February 3, 2017:

If the Democrats in the Senate do not fight tooth and nail the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, they will betray millions of Americans who may be stripped of their equal rights for decades to come. A new Republican majority on the court will continue the harmful project of judicially sanitizing discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. This will have disastrous consequences not only for the LGBT community, but for women and racial minorities as well.

Later in February 2017:

“I think you should tell the dean how you have raped women, how you have sexually abused them, and that now you will be held accountable,” Shuman wrote in February. “I’m going to write her and detail the abuse you have done, and explain how if they have any decency they will fire you.”

April 2017:

“Support Target For Being Trans-Inclusive,” by Mischa Haider and Bruce Hay, HuffPost, April 3, 2017:

Target recently affirmed that transgender people should use the facilities in their stores that match their gender identity. Naturally, this act of simple decency prompted a backlash from the far-right hate group that labels itself the American Family Association, which launched a petition urging a boycott of Target for its trans-inclusive policies. This petition has received hundred of thousands of signatures. What message does this send transgender people, particularly transgender children? It tells them that a frighteningly large number of their fellow citizens want to extinguish their right to exist as the people who they truly are.

July 2017:

…[When Hay and the women returned to Cambridge two days later, Hay and Zacks’s beautiful Italianate home on a quiet corner of Mount Vernon Street had been emptied of his family’s furniture, cookware, toys, documents, books, Zacks’s mother’s and grandmother’s heirlooms — and everything replaced with the women’s furniture. When Shuman had gone MIA in Quebec, Hay believes, she wasn’t seeing a doctor. She’d been overseeing the complicated move, all $10,000 of which had been charged to Hay’s credit card.

And so ended, at least for now, perhaps the most fruitful literary collaboration since Betty Comden teamed up with Adolph Green to write the screenplay for Singin’ in the Rain. But who knows?

Yet there were moments when he still sought ways to justify, or at least make sense of, Shuman and Haider’s campaign against him, searching in earnest for evidence of genuine affection amid the years of deceit.

Which could mean: When all this blows over, the writing team of Bruce Hay and Mischa Haider might be back again. If you see another article about a “pee-in” in a public ladies’ room, look for their joint byline.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

From → Uncategorized

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