Opinion: Florida and Texas can’t ban my family
People like DeSantis, Paxton and Abbott want to stigmatize mere knowledge, acceptance and inclusion of transgender and queer people. And as seen most horribly in Texas, they even seek to criminalize parents who do their best to support and care for their children.
To be clear: as a trans woman, I am not an icon of liberal ideology. Nor does my mere existence or presence amount to “sexual instruction” or an effort to “promote a lifestyle.” I did not choose to be trans. I am not a victim of abuse or grooming. I’m not confused or need a basic lesson in biological facts. I happen to be born in conflict with my assigned sex.
I’m just another human being and another parent at the local public school. I prepare my son’s lunch and drive him to the bus stop in the morning. I help him with his homework when he comes home. We say our prayers before dinner, and I read a story to him and his older brother every night.
And like any other parent, I expect my family to be welcomed and accepted by others at school. And of course, this acceptance might be more likely if some of the children’s stories read in class feature two fathers, two mothers, or even a trans mother.
If there isn’t an absolute ban on representing families like mine in the classroom, chances are more than a few of my son’s classmates won’t grow up having unreasonable fears about LGBTQ people. And even better, they might be less likely to shame or bully my son for having a slightly different parent. After all, understanding is a great antidote to ignorance and its toxic side effects: fear and hatred.
The one ideology I hear consistently from transamericans who are either Republicans or Democrats (I know quite a few) is this: transamericans simply want to celebrate the same opportunities that other Americans cherish in our founding documents. – the “certain inalienable rights”, which Thomas Jefferson hailed in the Declaration of Independence as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
So, let’s get rid of the fabricated political villain of “transgender” and focus on reality instead. Transgender people are US citizens. They are your neighbors. They are your neighbour’s children. Some of them are educators, firefighters, police officers, nurses or doctors. Some of them are vulnerable kids sitting next to your kids in the classroom just hoping they won’t be bullied during the school year.
And promoting acceptance of people born different will not make young children become LGBTQ. Although it might give some who were already born a little different an opportunity I didn’t get: a chance to stop hating themselves a little earlier in life.
In fact, I am a good example of how trans people are clearly not products of ideology or social contagion. My parents, both Reagan Republicans, raised me the same way they raised their other four sons. They expected my gender identity to be consistent with my assigned gender and to be male. To them, this result must have seemed as certain as the sunrise the next morning.
And as a kid growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I didn’t hear about LGBTQ people in grade school, and I didn’t have the internet to help me learn about other people. like me. For me, there was really no choice but to try to be the boy my parents expected of me.
Despite all this, even in my first childhood memories, I remember my certainty that I should have been born a girl. And without any knowledge of others who felt the same way, I found myself painfully alone and isolated with this overwhelming dilemma.
I thought about suicide when I was in middle school. At the age of 12 or 13, I was afraid of being “unmasked” and I was terrified of being rejected by my family. Losing the approval and acceptance of my parents and siblings seemed worse than death itself.
I still have vivid memories of locking myself in the bathroom and wondering if I could just stop. Luckily, I’m still here, even though it took this scared college girl 30 years to fully accept and love herself. It was only with the support of my most loyal friends and closest family that I was finally able to transition and stop hiding and suffering.
And over the past few years, with some progress in legal protections and public awareness for trans people, I had begun to hope that fewer and fewer people like me would end up in such despair. But these recent efforts to further stigmatize and marginalize LGBTQ people have left me deeply concerned about America’s children, many of whom still fear terribly that they will lose acceptance and support from family, friends, and even their country.
That rejection is now a painful reality in Florida, where the ‘don’t say gay bill’ tells LGBTQ people it’s taboo to just discuss it in public schools, or in Texas, where parents can’t properly support and care for their own. trans children without fear that social services will remove these children from their homes.
Scare-mongering politicians in these two states are sending a poisonous message to young LGBTQ children and teens, telling them they are “inappropriate” and unworthy of the same love and acceptance given to other children.
These Florida and Texas laws are an effort to demonize and exclude LGBTQ people from American life. They are a desperate attempt to push LGBTQ people into the shadows – to revoke their inclusion in public spaces and even to criminalize loved ones who accept them.
Public figures and politicians, like those in Texas and Florida, must be held accountable for the lies they spread and the wounds their lies inflict on their targets. At the polls, these hateful voices must be rejected and replaced with voices of knowledge and compassion. This will help us become a more united and stronger country.
Our public spaces and public schools should be places where all Americans can learn safely and where all parents are encouraged to participate in their children’s education. To get there, American citizens on both sides of our politics will have to deal with ill-informed emotional appeals that seek only to stoke division and animosity.
Ultimately, my son should be able to recognize me as a parent in the classroom without fear that his family will be stigmatized as something inappropriate. And yes, other students may wonder why I’m different (taller and with a deeper voice than the average mother, for example), and teachers should be able to affirm and promote acceptance of families different without fear of triggering a lawsuit brought by prejudicial parents.
In my experience, other kids at my son’s school don’t struggle or get confused when they learn about me. They seem to be doing just fine, except for a few who have already been brought up by their parents’ own prejudices and fears.
Overall I’m like other parents right now, I’m a bit hopeful that with some of the Covid-19 restrictions lifted I can get more involved in my class again. son or even be able to accompany him on his next field trip. That hope can best be realized if laws like Florida’s can be put in their proper place: the dustbin of history.
If you are having a suicidal crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text line by texting HOME to 741741 for help.