Time to get Political
It has always been my policy, here on this blog and on social media, to stay out of politics. I'm generally here to talk about books and travel and fun stuff. But at some point in your life you may be hit upside the head with the need to speak up.
That time has come. Not just for me--for all of us. Because even aside from my personal stake in what's happening in too much of the US, I also believe that if it becomes the norm to take away the freedoms of some groups, it will eventually bcome the norm to take the freedoms of all, and I feel that our nation is teetering in the balance.
For the moment, I'm not talking about the loss of a woman's right to control her body (I should have been talking about that for the last two years), or the rights of people of color to not be beaten and killed by the police (also shame to me for not talking about this). For today, I'm talking about LGBTQ* rights, including the very right to existence.
Does that sound extreme to you? Think about the implications of laws like Florida's "Don't say gay" law for people who are gay or, worse, transgender. Because your very existence as a transgender person might, in fact, be an announcement to *gasp* "the children" that the gender binary doesn't work, so of course you can't be a teacher. Or a librarian. Or a nurse. Or... And in a way they are correct: without any models or open discussion, kids with gender dysphoria won't transition. They'll just go on believing they are warped, or go on killing themselves (as they do at a much higher rate than the general population). In other words, they'll stop existing.
Or--no imagination needed to see the hatred here--listen to Michael Knowles calling for the elimination of "transgenderism." You can't do that without eliminating transgender people. And make no mistake: that is the end goal of all the legislation to "protect the children." They want to make it impossible for my daughter to be herself. They want her to go back to being deeply unhappy, they want transgendered people to believe themselves to be monsters. They want them to go away.
Texas governor Gregg Abbott has already managed to get legislation passed that renames any medical treatment of gender dysphoria for minors (beyond counseling, and you can guess what kind of counseling they want!) as child abuse. As in, CPS knocks on your door and takes your child away to toss them into the foster care system where, you can count on it, they will be abused in more ways than you want to imagine.
What about those laws that almost every state is considering, the ones that the NYT, to their shame, kind of came out in support of? The ones that say that schools cannot use a child's preferred pronouns/name--in some states, at all, in most of the proposed laws, without the parents' permission. People like to frame that one as a simple matter of a parent's right to be the parent, so they can do what's best for their kid (that's what the NYT did. They didn't interview a single kid. They didn't share comments from parents who won't let their kid back in the house because s/he's trans). All very well for the supportive families, though even supportive and loving parents can react badly. What will be the schools' liability when they report to a parent that their child is out as trans at school--and the parent beats the child, throws him/her out of their home, or worse? There's a reason why, once puberty hits, the doctor asks the parent to leave the room during the child's annual physical. Adolescents need some privacy.
(Don't get me started on Right-wing hypocrisy. Apparently the same people who consider the unborn child to have rights far exceeding those of the pregnant woman also believe that the rights of the child once born aren't worth much. Not to mention that the party of "small government" literally wants to control who we are, how we dress and what we call ourselves.)
What can we do? A place to start is to check out what's happening in your state. If there's any legislation under consideration that needs a sharp check, fire off a letter or ten. And above all: we need to vote for candidates who support all people, and we need to protect the right of everyone to vote. That's really another legislative project, but at the very least, make sure everyone you know votes. Talk about these issues, even if it makes you and your friends uncomfortable.
Only then can we get to work on ensuring that we all have the right to live, love, and be the person we are. Or, as the Declaration of Independence says, that we all retain the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
*I know that this acronym can go on farther, and if you prefer, we can talk about LGBTQIA2+. Or we could just say "anyone who doesn't fit the very rigid mold the Right wants us to occupy." Which might include a lot more of us.
And, again: fight anti-trans legislation. Call out your news sources on biased reporting. Don't let anyone decide that anyone isn't human, is lesser, is not deserving of equal rights. Take a risk. Speak up.