I am distraught about the ugly rhetoric being used and unrighteous actions being taken against transgender people. I am alarmed. It is going to generate violent actions. For advice and counsel, I turned to a friend in another state who is a leader in the trans community. This is the dialogue that ensued, which I have edited for clarity and length (and to protect her identity).

I pray you are safe. I want to do something.

I have not experienced any harm, but I am much more vigilant.  I was about to say that I am safe, but I’m not sure that would be a true statement.  In our current environment of gun violence where our lives can be ended for the offense of entering the wrong driveway, pulling on the wrong car door, or ringing the wrong doorbell, I’m not sure that any of us are safe.

When we did our interview back in December, I spoke about the suicide rates for trans people and especially trans youth.  Those same statistics were brought up in testimony during [public] hearings in February and March. Of course, it didn’t convince people to change their votes.  But as they were rightly focusing on how State Bill XX and other legislation was going to result in more suicides. It was just dawning on me that the very violent, enraged rhetoric from some of the lawmakers is going to result in more bullying, violence and murder of trans people.

Violent words lead to violent actions, not just against trans people but against anyone who is the target of such rhetoric.  It was so depressing in February that I seriously considered moving out of state. I believe that we have a very long, very dark night ahead of us. There will be no quick solutions.  The only thing that we can do is to keep doing our small parts, even if we might personally never see the dawn.  I suppose some might call that the theological virtue of hope.

What is the state of legislation where you live? 

A series of anti-trans bills kinda fell apart.  Republicans rolled them all into SB XX and tried to have an unannounced vote by turning off the microphone and whispering into it.  But the Democrats found out anyway. The Republican supermajority passed it and then were able to override the governor’s veto.

It stops any medical or mental health care for transgender children. It also requires doctors to reverse any care already being given.  It allows teachers to intentionally misname and misgender children, even when the parents have requested that they not do that.

I spoke with several people who testified. One young woman told me that she had a good number of conversations with Republican legislators who listened and were both receptive and supportive, but then they voted following the party line.  I have spoken with the parents of trans and nonbinary teenagers, and they are very concerned about what they are going to do.  One couple told me that they have become hypervigilant for any possible signs of self-harm or suicidality of their child, who had become more withdrawn as the legislative drama played out.

SB XX was probably the worst of all the bad bills that have passed throughout the country this year.  What happened in Missouri where hormone therapy was banned took it up a notch; that was not by legislative action but rather a rule issued by the attorney general.  Under the specifics of that rule, I don’t think that even I would meet the criteria, and, without hormone therapy, I would have problems with bone mineralization, brittle bones, and osteoporosis as my body produces no hormones.  Even things that happen in other states raise the anxiety level, especially as we consider what the House and Senate may look like in January 2025….

What was unusual about this past session and everything associated with SB XX is that the polls showed that it was not supported in any region of Kentucky.  The legislators must think that it appeals to their base, and that the other people are not going to vote one way or the other on issues about trans kids.…

Do You know anyone who has been harmed?

I have a friend who has a trans child who is affected by it, and so the whole family is affected.  But his wife doesn’t want to talk to people about it, because she doesn’t want to draw attention to their situation as it could make it more difficult for them.

The most significant direct impact of SB XX is on children. I don’t know specifically any of the children who are impacted.  TransParent is the support group for parents of trans kids in our area, but that is a closed group for reasons that are more obvious now than ever.  I haven’t yet spoken with doctors or therapists as it is all so recent.

We’re starting our meetings of the LGBTQIA+ Patient & Family Advisors Council in two weeks. Over time, I will hear more stories about direct effects while serving on that Council.  It takes time for something like this to play out.  I know a therapist who just had a baby and told me that she and her husband have already decided that if their child turns out to be trans or gender diverse that they’ll move out of the state.

Here’s something to add to the mix. On the TransKentucky email discussion forum, an adult trans man said that he was no longer able to get HRT (hormone therapy) because the hospital is owned by a Catholic health corporation, and they changed the policy on providing HRT to trans people.  Those organizations have been buying up a lot of small hospitals and often there is no indication that the hospital is Catholic owned.  I did some research to see why this would have happened, and it turns out that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops just decreed that Catholic owned hospitals are prohibited from providing HRT to trans patients. HRT is the same thing that would be provided to cis patients who have hormone deficiencies, or who are postmenopausal for the same reasons that I need it.

I think this is an example of how the culture wars are playing out in churches.  I don’t think that HRT would ever have been on the radar of the bishops if it weren’t for the political debate raging across red states this year.

Do you think this anti-trans mood will fade?

Will the mood fade?  Is it an election year blip?  Opposition to what they’re doing doesn’t have the same level of support as the abortion issue because the number of trans people and parents is so relatively small. It won’t drive voting the way the abortion rights issue will.  And still, you see Republicans already campaigning on an anti-abortion platform.

Other than the fact that the anti-trans rhetoric makes them seem petty and hateful, It seems they think they have more to gain than to lose.  I do think that there will be a point where they have done as much damage as they can, at which point they will turn on yet another group on the margins.

My question is really, who’s next?  Because there will be a “next” when they get done with this issue.  It was segregation, then abortion, now trans, probably more attacks on LGB, and then?  Chinese and Asian Americans have recently been targeted with rhetoric, and hatred always comes back around to the Jews.  That’s the problem with hatred, it always finds a target.

I do feel certain that as the younger generations come of age, the anti-trans and anti-LGB politics will fade away.  I am much less sanguine about seeing that come to pass in my lifetime.  I suppose that is my answer to your question.  I don’t think that the damage will be undone in my lifetime. I believe that in a national government controlled by Republicans (House, Senate, White House, and Supreme Court), it will get worse before it ever starts to get better.

Will these laws be challenged in court? If so, what will the courts do?

So yes, I do expect these laws to be challenged in court.  I expect to see lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union.  I expect to see lawsuits from individual and collective groups of citizens who are being injured by these laws.

The contradiction is glaring between how the first amendment is used to protect teachers who intentionally and harmfully misgender students in the classroom, while at the same time criminalizing medical and mental health providers who speak to people about their options for transgender health care.

What will the courts do?  That is a difficult question to answer in the wake of the Dobbs decision, overturning a fifty-year precedent set by the Roe v. Wade decision after the justices had all sworn before Congress their commitment to stare decisis and their recognition that Roe was a super-precedent.  When we see what a U.S. district judge in Texas like Matthew Kacsmaryk would do when he used stridently religious rhetoric in his decision to ban mifepristone nationwide, it is difficult to trust the objectivity of the courts.

It is especially difficult to have confidence in just decisions from the courts when a pro-nazi, ultra-conservative billionaire is able to buy a Supreme Court justice with impunity, a justice who has already signaled in a concurring opinion on Dobbs his willingness to overturn decisions relating to marriage equality, private sexual relations and access to contraception despite the fact that there is not yet a single existing challenge to those decisions.  He has, in effect, invited those challenges and signaled his intention to rule in favor of oppression and the suppression of the existing rights of the people.  He is not alone in his intention to legislate from the bench.  The willingness of several other Supreme Court Justices to place their personal interpretation of their religion over United States law was clearly demonstrated in the Dobbs decision.

The laws targeting transgender and gender diverse persons have been passed in a significant number of states that fall under the jurisdiction of many different judges appointed under presidents of different parties.  In the past, I would have seen that as a good thing, and I would have largely expected impartial justice.  It has become much more difficult to trust our system of justice after what we have seen this past year.

What can a person do?

You saved the best for last, Dwight!  That is certainly the key question.

The most important thing a person can do is to vote!  Vote against anyone who has supported this legislation targeting transgender and gender diverse people.  Write to those lawmakers and let them know that what they are doing is wrong, that it will cost them your vote.  Write to the lawmakers who opposed such legislation to thank them for doing the right thing.

When you hear the arguments about this issue, do some fact checking.  Surgeries are not being done on little children and nobody is being recruited to be trans.

Transgender care saves lives:  41% of transgender kids attempt suicide by age 18 and more than 80% think about it; yet having one supporting adult in their lives can cut those numbers in half.

Once you have educated yourself, do your part to inform others when they repeat misleading, inaccurate and false information….  If there is a trans person in your life, be that supportive person who can be the difference in the life of someone whose world has suddenly become much less safe than it was a year ago.

Thank you, Dwight. We are fortunate to have you as an ally!

Published On: April 26th, 2023 / Categories: Commentary /

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