One of my favorite songs is “Somebody to Love.” It was written by Freddie Mercury and performed by the British rock band Queen in 1976 (although I did not start paying attention until decades later).

Music critics trace its appeal to the influence of American gospel singer Aretha Franklin and, more broadly, the American gospel choir sound. Wikipedia writes that the song “is a soul-searching piece that questions God’s role in a life without love.”

I wouldn’t know about all that.  I just like the sound and the lyrics and consider it an anthem celebrating the human search for love.

But it also offers a powerful counterpoint to others who spend life searching for someone to hate, someone to vilify, some one or some group to demonize.

A century and more ago, the preferred people to hate, fear, and reject were various kinds of immigrants: Jews and, before that, Catholics of any kind. Beneath all of these for the longest time: Native Americans, or what we grew up calling Indians.

The current choice is transgender people.

It is hard to believe how much political energy and legislative time is being invested in this wide-ranging campaign against such a small segment of the population. Except this: their status as a minority group makes them an easy target for powerful demagogues who are always looking for somebody to hate.

When I was little, the group to reject was African Americans. One of the most famous pictures in national history is that taken of the angry gang of students shouting hate at the Little Rock Nine in 1957. I have often wondered what became of the white students and adults in this famous picture (above): if they regretted their denigration of students just trying to get a good education, if they ever repented of their meanness, or if they ever made friends with the very people they vilified.

For a good while, Communists were the demographic of choice, and later, liberals and gays took center stage. Neither of these latter two groups have moved out of the danger zone. Recent political trends have found energy (and money) in demonizing liberals and gays.

All of this has fed a decades-long resistance to the feds. It began, perhaps, when federal armies marched through Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas, putting down the rebellion we call the Confederacy. It took new form when President Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock to insure safe passage for African American students. Since then, it has been federal courts and legislatures that have consistently ruled in favor of minority groups and minority rights, infuriating the white majority.

Now, representatives of these white majorities hold positions of great power in state houses and on federal courts. They are listening to the white majorities make claims of persecution and marginalization. They are feeling the resentment and granting “relief” in case after case in which white majority representatives cry about their disrespected status.

All of this accumulated anger now comes sweeping toward surely the smallest of all American demographics. Missouri, Tennessee, Florida, and Utah are a few of the states that are channeling hate toward children, youth, and adults who are struggling with what professionals have long called “gender dysphoria.”

Over the weekend, a physician friend distributed the statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Gender Disorders. He then asked the question, “Why should the … legislature deem it necessary to usurp the prerogative and medical decision-making of physicians and parents in rendering appropriate care for our children? … Physicians should have the freedom working with the patient and family in making decisions based on science and expert opinion rather than ignorance and with compassion rather than mean spirited prohibitions.”

He is right. This tidal wave of ignorance and prejudice is sweeping the country. People struggling with gender dysphoria need understanding and support rather than anger and meanness.

I sat with a transgender woman some weeks ago and asked, When did you know? She said, “When I was five years old.” She is now drawing social security, and her transition was less than a decade ago.

I don’t understand all this, but I do understand the waves of hate that have swept over our country for all 70+ years of my life. I am weary of it all. Increasingly, I pray, in the words of that old rock song,

I go down on my knees and I start to pray
‘Til the tears run down from my eyes
Lord, somebody, somebody can anybody find me somebody to love?

I just wish all the trans haters would do the same. I can say with assurance, God will answer your prayer.

Published On: February 8th, 2023 / Categories: Commentary /

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