The World Bigots Want
Honestly, this post is probably going to be hundreds of words devoted to stating the obvious. But I’ll state it anyway. I know as I describe these events to you that you can probably guess a great deal of what my reaction will be. But I’ll describe it anyway. Because in my estimation this case, perhaps more than any other I’ve seen, clearly capsulizes the depraved darkness in the hearts of those ho seek to oppress us.
Almost two weeks ago, in a middle school in Stafford County Virginia, the staff and teachers led the student body through an active shooter lockdown drill. Among those students was a group in gym class. The assigned secure location for students in gym class is the locker rooms. Apparently, for yet undisclosed reasons, the teachers in charge of that group felt it necessary to sex-segregate the students for practice during this reaction to a hypothetical life-threatening event. Put a pin in that nonsense, I’ll come back to it. Turns out, though, that their was a transgender girl in the class. And the teachers were mystified where she should shelter and ultimately just left her with no shelter at all. Easy prey for our hypothetical shooter. Because penis, I guess.
As the story developed in the press it became more clear that the teachers were not overtly acting out of bigotry (in so far as we know) but rather the county school board had deliberately gone four years since the student came out as trans without adopting a clear policy for the district. The student in question, who had initially found support (for her first two weeks) was remanded to a status of, essentially, untouchable. Unwelcome in any gender segregated space. Absent a clear policy, the teachers were understandably reluctant to put their life on the line for a drill. The first problem, of course, is that the logical implication of excluding the trans girl from gendered spaces is that it communicates a zero tolerance policy which leads to the ridiculous notion that you have to segregate the students even when under threat of actual violence. So the cowardice – and that’s what it is, the initial two weeks of support ended when bigoted parents stormed the board demanding to be saved from this predatory 10 year old – of the board effectively potentially endangers all students. But it also served up the trans child as the first victim.
The district has a new superintendent who offered what seems a heartfelt apology to the child and her mother, but the board having met once since the incident heard a written statement from the student (delivered in a tearful session by a family member) and so far has…done nothing. The child’s mother doesn’t wish to pursue legal remedy as Gavin Grimm did in another Virginia county. That being the case, there’s every possibility that this child will continue to wear a virtual scarlet letter for some time to come.
This is the outcome, this is the world, the hate-filed, religiously-indoctrinated bigots want. it’s the one tat ADF fights for, that Tony Perkins and FRC lobby for, that evangelical preachers push their congregants to demand – a world where no amount of suffering by an innocent child s to high a price to pay to guard their traditional notions of sin. Traditions that literally have no actual support in their Scriptures but which are drilled into them by politically ambitious neo-pharisees who weaponize their gullibility and fear of that which is different.
You would think, in a sane world, that this incident would be a flashpoint that would illustrate the irrationality of the Dominionists’ argument. That people would be moved to see trans children as vulnerable souls in need of protection rather than potential predators. But alas we, particularly in the south where we are still ground under the heels of Southern Baptist legalism, do not yet live in a sane world. More’s the pity. We can NOT stay on the sidelines. We can not submit ourselves as timid, meek, fearful, trembling victims. I have said before, and I am saying again, that while I understand that for some it may be literally impossible to be visible – it is not so for most of us – yet most of us continue to avoid the struggle,to stay closeted or quiet. And that silence leads directly to situations like this in which the Pharisee majority goes largely unchallenged when they demand our oppression.
We CAN do more, even in this current climate. We must. And by more I do not mean loud and confrontational anger. There’s plenty of that right now and the effect is watered down. Rather I mean calm, winsome, persuasion. The majority of these people have been taught to hate and fear an abstract impersonal construction, a fiction. Meeting and listening too enough real people “putting a face on” what they fear in the abstract make a difference. I recently heard it said, of the Speaker of the House in my home state, that he claimed never to have met a single trans person in his life. So they introduced him to some. While it’s a stretch that he’s going to go out on a limb and act in a leadership role on our behalf, he listened, he learned, he’s closer to the right views than he was before. That is the hard work of social change. But it can’t be done by the fearful and the hiding. Our situation over the last two years, despite transitory court victories which will almost certainly be overturned on appeal to the Trumpian Supreme Court, has significantly worsened and will continue to in terms of official acts. While islands of protection exist and will remain, even those are being challenged as in the referendum on the Massachusets ballot in less than a month. Absent those our legal situation is eroding and there is ONE recourse that Trump and the GOP Dominionists can’t overcome – changing the hearts and minds of the people. One person at a time if that’s what it takes. Again, this cannot be done in the closet, or in stealth. Visibility is the first step. Take it.
Photo by: danobrienmuzyka