By now, it’s well known that Texas is leading the pack in making a frivolous lawsuit against Obama’s directive that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom that conforms to their identify. Of course, this is from the governor who is willing to screw our school system over to forgo millions in federal funds to defy the directive.
People other than me have written good posts about how there are no documented cases of men posing as transgendered women to assault women in the bathroom. Or how people who are transgendered are put into an impossible situation with regards to using the bathroom by these laws, or that people who are transgendered rightly fear going to the bathroom because they are at risk of being assaulted. Or about the stories of people who look gender ambiguous who have been assaulted for using the “right” bathroom. Or about how these laws are problematic for parents and caretakers of people with disabilities.
When the governor of my state says he would rather forgo federal funds than protect transgendered students when they use the bathroom, this is what I hear. I hear that my state wants to preserve the right to bully people who are different.
As someone who was bullied in school, this frightens me. I have said it before, and I will say it again, bullying starts at the top. Either the people running the school and our state say the bullying is not acceptable and we will be a safe place for people who are different and model that and let anyone who is less than welcoming firmly know that such behavior is not acceptable. Or they try to make it legal to be bullies to people who are different, such as they are doing in Oklahoma where they want to create separate bathrooms for people who have religious objections to sharing a bathroom with someone who is transgendered!
I am not transgendered and neither of my children appear to be transgendered. But when I read accounts from people who are transgendered, I relate to the struggle to feel like you have to hide who you are from people. I relate to that because I am different. I can relate because I felt like I had to hide being an atheist in school. My beliefs, not my actions, were reasons for people to stop being my friend, for harassing me, for assaulting me. I know what it feels like to have to hide who you are and to desperately want to be open and honest about who you are, but being scared to for how people will react.
What Texas is doing sends a strong message that people who are different are not welcome in this state. Yes, people who are transgendered are singled out and made to be a boogeyman. But if they do this to people who are transgendered, then I don’t see what is to stop them from doing this to other vulnerable groups. Bottom line, what I hear is my state wants to bully people who are different. I may not be transgendered, but I value the diversity of the human experience, and therefore I find this appalling. Anyone who is different should be alarmed and appalled at what is going on in Texas. Anyone who values human diversity should be horrified.
And as the mother of one child with autism, I am also now the mother of a child who is different, and I fear for him. My daughter appears to be typically developing, but what sort of message does it send to her to see that her state has a vested interest in preserving the “right” to be dicks to people who are different? Hatred and intolerance and not values I want her to learn!
If schools can’t appreciate the diversity of the human experience, can’t try to read about the lives of people who are transgendered or listen to those people, meet them, interact with them, hear about their joys and their struggles, how the hell can I expect them to protect my son? If schools can’t see that we are stronger when we accept people who transgendered and ask what they can add to our society, how can I expect them to do that with my son?
For awhile I thought things were getting better. For a brief period of time I felt more comfortable being open about being an atheist. I felt encouraged by how accepting people were of Buddy. But then some stuff at work happened with regards to religion that has left me shaken and back in the closet, and Buddy got to be school aged and I witnessed how he horribly he was treated by the schools for being a little boy with autism.
I’m back to being scared. I’m back to feeling that where I’m living is extremely hostile and dangerous. And our hatefilled governor pulling these tactics? It’s just further confirmation that the schools will not be welcoming places for my children, or any child who is different.