A federal judge attempts to ban a pill, long declared safe by U.S. regulatory agencies that women use to induce abortion.
State legislators try to prevent young people (and, in at least one case, adults) from seeking care to affirm their gender identity.
Other states, including my own in North Carolina, are aiming to criminalize drag shows.
What is driving these recent efforts? And how do proponents think they’ll succeed?
My Uncle Tony, a trans man who passed away in 2011, liked to write poetry.
His work wasn’t award-winning. But he knew how to get to the heart of the matter.
In my home office, I have a copy of his poem “We Are All God’s Children.” Though this poem was about same-sex relationships, its core question could apply to so many current conflicts.
“When you look at me
I’m no different than you
I come in all sizes and different hues, too
Why are you frightened?”
That’s the key question, I think.
Why are people frightened?
Is it of difference, of complexity, of the loss of control, of their presumed superiority?
Legislating from fear is a no-win move. As Prohibition ought to have taught Americans, trying to eliminate the choices of others just because you disagree with those choices flies in the face of the notions we champion in a democratic republic.
It’s also fruitless. Consenting, conscientious adults will – and ought to – follow their hearts and instincts irrespective of what fearful lawmakers decide. And young people ought to be able to turn to the adults in their lives who love them, without worrying about whether Big Government could arrest them.
Conservative legislators seem to understand this concept when it applies to guns. Why can’t they understand it when it applies to bodies?
Sometimes, the reactionary bile (it would be ironic as well as sexist to refer to it as “hysteria”) threatens to become too much to bear.
That’s when it helps me to remember:
- My grandmother, whom my family asked me not to come out to, was the one to ask me, “So when am I going to meet your friend?”
- My father, who argued with me bitterly in the mid-’80s over California’s proposed legislation to outlaw openly gay educators, a decade and a half later defended my right to stay with my partner in his upstairs apartment at my aunt’s house.
(I was the one who felt uncomfortable and recommended we stay at a nearby hotel.
- My Catholic parish hears routinely from heterosexual couples and families that one of the key reasons they joined was because of its affirming LGBTQ+ ministry.
Engagement, as difficult as it sounds, is the only way we move forward. When people become less frightened, their minds and hearts can open.
So I’ll be at the North Carolina General Assembly sometime soon – probably not in drag. (I don’t think I have the cheekbones to pull it off.)
I’ll be asking those questions: Why are you frightened?
And how can you put your fear at rest without instilling fear in others?
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