The Power of Speaking Up
As you surely know if you’ve been paying attention to the news, or at least to my blogs, Texas seems obsessed with setting a new standard for being an anti-trans leader. At least, the state government does. Besides the infamous SB6 which I’ve written about her before, there are other legislative efforts including a variation of the typical “bathroom bill” which originated in the House and seems to have better prospects of reaching the governor.
In effect, it takes the model of “nullification bills” already on the books in several “red” states which erase local jurisdiction civil rights protections that go beyond what the state offers, and forbids any jurisdiction from passing any new sch laws – but this bill specifically forbids jurisdictions from passing laws and ordinances which would make it possible for trans people to use sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity. Nevermind that every large city in Texas except Houston already have non-discrimination laws which includes public accommodations (including restrooms and etc) and have for several years. Nevermind that none of the things Republicans and their Pharisee backers predict have ever actually happened. The GOP is, and has been for some time, a post-truth party when it is politically advantageous to be. The Religious Right, despite serving (they claim) a God a God who’s all about truth, have no relationship at all with it.
But more and more, ordinary people are combating the hateful mythology with real honest testimony in one on one conversations, group settings, in the media and on social and electronic platforms. The families who step into the public eye in order to defend their trans child, the friends and acquaintances of those kids, the teachers and doctors and yes even ministers who work in the lives of these children are increasingly willing to politely but firmly call bullshit on the narrative of those who would oppress us. The moms like Kimberly Shappley who refuse to let blind tradition victimize their child are making a difference.
One resources I found quietly touching, though it’s in it’s infancy, is a blog called Nothing To Fear which simply collects the first hand accounts of those people willing to say out loud “I’ve experienced life with or around a trans child and I reject the hateful narrative.” I’ve preached this message before but I cannot restate it too often: if we’re going to turn back the forces arrayed against us it cannot happen with lawyers and judges alone, as important as these are, but it must also involve changing hearts and minds on a street level, face-to-face basis. Trans people who are visible force everyone around them to think – at least for a moment – about how they feel about us. Not all of those people will just automatically become accepting because someone they know and like (or love) is trans (God knows each of us have personal experience with THAT reality) but some will, and it’s the geometrical progression of minds changing leading to other minds changed that we need. Ever more non-trans people willing to speak up and defend our rights as allies has an explosive effect over time.
Voices must be heard. Now is a more desperate time for speaking than ever.
Photo by: Henry Söderlund