Hate Comes Home
So I had been intending for a few days to write this post concerning the obnoxious and odious HB2 in North Carolina. By now you’ve no doubt been appraised of the details of that hateful bill and seen the state’s governor making a clown of himself on media outlets openly lying about what the bill does and insisting that there’s no integrity to the voices speaking out against the state as some sort of “agenda.” Well, yeah, it’s an agenda all right, of course it is. The bill itself is an agenda too. The word agenda doesn’t mean, by definition, a BAD agenda after all. One of the great things about the aftermath of that bill is the nationwide reproach, particularly on the part of business and industry. It might be suspected that the outcry is so great because it wasn’t only trans people who suffered loss, but nevertheless, any opposition is a good thing whatever the motivation.
But I changed my plans when it came to my attention that my own home state of Mississippi was stepping up last night to vote in the Senate on what might be an even worse anti-LGBT bill. HB1523, painted as yet another protection of religious freedom (discrimination, actually) bill – a card that was already played in MS last spring when the passed and signed with great fanfare a (so-called) Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was supposed to cover all this stuff – is onerous on several fronts but is the most direct attack on trans people yet passed (I say passed because there is exactly zero chance our Dominionist-influanced Governor, Phil Bryant, won’t sign it). The bill lays out three – and only three – religious beliefs that the legislature finds worthy of a greater degree of protection, one of which is that trans people don’t exist (in so many words) – and goes on to say that if you have a religious belief on any of the three, or claim to, you may feel free to discriminate on that basis however you see fit.
Worse, while major powerful corporate interests can have tremendous influence on the state of North Carolina, whether it’s the NBA, or Facebook, or any of dozens of other companies that have literally billions of dollars of impact on the NC economy. Mississippi? not so much. There’s no NCAA tournament here, no NBA, no massive tech center, no NFL, very few remaining major furniture manufactures. Basically there’s a Toyota plant and a Nissan plant, Ingalls Shipyard – none of whom are going anywhere – and Ashley Furniture along with Action/Lane. Almost everything else is small enough to not have the muscle to influence politicians in the face of pressure on the other side from organizations like Tupelo, MS based American Family Association or the Family Research Council (who’s leader Tony Perkins was in Jackson for the RFRA signing ceremony a year ago).
In other words, if you are trans in Mississippi, you’re screwed.
Today is Transgender Day of Visibility and you won’t find a more vocal support of universal visibility than I, but the harsh reality is that visibility in states like this one – and don’t you believe for a second that there’s no Republican in YOUR legislature (if you live in the U.S.) who’s looking at this bill and planning to introduce it in his own state – is to take on the Scarlet Letter that says “this one you can discriminate against all you want.” So you’d better be pro-active now in making things different before you end up in the same state I find myself in today.
Photo by Christopher Meredith