Don’t Tread on Us!

| May 30, 2022
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Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte smiles after signing an anti-trans athlete bill into law.

I am usually a pretty quiet person. I get along with most people. I do have a temper, but it usually shows up only when I think I have been wronged or mistreated. Most of the time, I am willing to live and let live.

However, recent events have changed my feelings. I am becoming rather pissed off. Not enough to scream yet, but enough to write this article.

To be blunt, I have had it.

“About what?”, you may ask.

About the continual attacks on transgender persons in the political arena. It is clear by now that the Religious Right is targeting transgender people with one attack on our rights after another. The Religious Righters want to turn us into something less than first-class citizens by taking away our civil rights. They will not give us the basic human dignity to live our own lives without bothering anyone else.

It makes me want to retch. I am a political conservative and always will be, but this kind of blatant assault is too much to put up with from people who call themselves conservatives.

There are a number of facets to this topic that we need to discuss. Let’s start with the most important: Why? Why do these people feel such a pressing need to repeatedly attack transgender folk?

The biggest reason is that, to paraphrase Sally Field’s Oscar comments, they really, really hate us. That does not mean all conservatives hate us. I actually see more tolerance than I would have imagined possible when I first began this journey. But plenty of righters truly despise us.

I believe some of them would gladly put all transgender persons in concentration camps for life. I also believe that some of them would try to run all transgender persons out of their states if they could get away with it. Their hatred is that intense.

They also see us as loathsome perverts who pollute the very environment in which we live. They believe that transgenderism is an abomination unto God that must be totally shut down if our country is to recover its moral focus.

They also believe that all transgender people recruit young children to be transgender. They see the reports of “grooming” in the media and conclude that we must all be doing it. Never mind that most transgender people just want to live their lives without bothering anyone and would never dream of recruiting anyone to such a difficult life. One example of such an article can be seen in The Daily Mail.

They feel a hot flash of anger towards the society’s elite, who push the gay and trans agenda on everybody. Here they may have something of a point.

Finally, they see political advantage in attacking transgender people. They believe they can use us as whipping boys to stir up hot rage among the voting public.

So for all these reasons, these people despise transgenderism and want to attack us.

The next topic is how they attack us.

Mostly, they come after us by passing restrictive laws in state legislatures around the country. We have seen laws that:

  • Deny access to medical treatment by transgender kids and teens.
  • Deny discussion of gender-related topics in schools (the “Don’t Say Gay” laws).
  • Deny the right to ask that people use a transgender person’s preferred pronouns.
  • Deny the right to use the bathroom for the person’s preferred gender identity.
  • Deny transgender people the right to have their preferred gender identity on government documents like driver’s licenses and birth certificates.

If you can think of a way to discriminate against transgender people, some hater has written a law to do it. There are probably other categories of harassing legislation that I have not mentioned here.

Now let’s look at examples of some of these assaults.

Multiple states have denied transgender youth access to medical treatment of any kind, even to prescription drugs or therapy. Texas governor Greg Abbott has gone as far as asking the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents of transgender youth who help their kids deal with their gender identity issues (see this report in The Washington Post).

Parents of transgender children have to worry about whether they will be arrested and prosecuted for helping their kids with their gender identity issues.

Alabama is another state that has tried to deny medical care to transgender youth. That bill specifies a ten-year sentence for a doctor who prescribes puberty blockers and other hormones to transgender kids. Governor Kay Ivey said at the signing, “I believe very strongly that if the Good Lord made you a boy, you are a boy, and if he made you a girl, you are a girl” (see the story here).

The “Don’t Say Gay” laws deal with a different question. Should gender identity issues be discussed with very young children, say in the first few grades? I would say that is much too early for such discussions. I also suspect that the educators who want to discuss these issues with such kids are probably trying to promote the LGBT agenda. More traditionally minded educators would probably not bring up the subject in those early grades. In that sense, I do not totally oppose the intent of these bills.

On the other hand, it seems clear that the bills are not intended to be friendly to the LGBT community. They may couch their hatred in smooth words, but you can still feel it come off the page. I read the Florida bill. It uses calm legal language, but the authors clearly do not want their children to ever hear anything about gender identity issues. I could go along with them if that were their only intent. But I fear their real desire to attack the LGBT community goes much further.

As for preferred pronouns, a state senator in Tennessee introduced a bill to authorize teachers to ignore a student’s preferred pronouns and use the biological sex pronoun. The bill passed the state House by a 2 to 1 margin. It appears to have died in a Senate committee – I cannot find any evidence of a floor vote in that body. I feel sure it will come back next year (see info on the bill here).

You get the idea. Time after time after time, state legislators try to assault transgender persons with some new restriction. I am a bit surprised we have not seen an attempt to completely throw us out of a state. Maybe that happens next year. Or maybe that is when they will try to criminalize transgenderism and throw us in camps – to protect the children, naturally.

This raises a curious question. I have been accused of being a bit on the paranoid side. It is true. On the other hand, it is not paranoia if they are really after you.

I can see conspiracies in odd places. I try not to take them all seriously. But every once in a while something looks so suspicious that I have to wonder if some person or group is behind the activity. The attacks on transgender persons clearly fit the mold. Too many attacks have been happening around the same time for them to all be inspired by individuals acting on their own. So I began to wonder if there was a group that might be pushing these attacks.

I learned about a group that is at least contributing to the wave of attacks. It is called the Alliance Defending Freedom. It was started by various members of the Religious Right, including James Dobson (Focus on the Family) and D. James Kennedy (the deceased pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in South Florida).

If you believe an article on the Web, ADF has drafted numerous sample bills attacking transgender persons for use by legislators around the country. This is neither illegal nor unethical, but to a transgender person, it sounds rather sinister. While a single article does not prove the thesis that ADF is leading the charge against transgender persons, it certainly suggests that this might be true. The article is available here.

So we have seen that transgender persons are being targeted by unfriendly legislation, probably coordinated by the Alliance for Defending Freedom. What would be the results if these attacks succeed? Let’s take a look.

In theory, transgender persons would be barred from using bathrooms that did not agree with their birth sex. It would not matter how badly you needed to go. I say “in theory” because the majority cannot put security guards on every bathroom in the country. I have used women’s restrooms many times without causing problems for anyone. But the intent is still there when such a bill is passed. I can somewhat understand the frustration that the majority feels in this situation. But I can also assure those folks that the overwhelming majority of transgender persons just want to go in, do their business, and get out. We are not trying to leer at naked females.

Probably the most damaging result of this flurry of legislation is that transgender youth would be barred from getting the medical care that they need, even if their parents approved of the treatment. Whatever happened to the idea that parents should make the final decisions for their young children? I wrote on this topic in my book Trans Right. I would not allow surgeries for youths under the age of majority since most surgeries are permanent and cannot be changed. But if the parents approve, I would allow transgender youth to receive medicines to help them deal with their gender identity issues. If they are sure they are in the wrong body and the parents approve, I am willing to see them get puberty blockers and hormones. If that makes me a radical, so be it.

I must also say that if I were a parent in that situation, I would not automatically give my approval to my child’s request. It would depend on the all of the factors in the situation. But the government has no business making this decision. In this case, the Religious Right are just as bad as the Radical Left in wanting the government to take over private decisions.

In a more general sense, transgender people could be hassled anytime, anywhere, by anyone, with no consequences. We would become second-class citizens with few civil rights. The majority would come to believe that we deserved such treatment. In a more extreme situation, the majority might decide that we needed to be removed from society, either by execution, long-term imprisonment, or exile from a particular state. That will not happen immediately, but I can imagine it happening if events moved in a certain direction. After all, if they believe we are perverts, why should we be allowed to live with them? Some sexual offenders are required to live away from other people for fear of their misbehavior. Why not us?

Do the transgender opponents make any valid points at all? Is there anything we can learn from their objections to us? It is rare for one side in a dispute to be 100% correct about the situation.

I can see one place that we need to review. The Religious Righters claim that we “groom” young children to be gay or transgender. As one person said in a quote I remember but cannot source, “They cannot reproduce so they must recruit.” Yes, that is a rather crude way of putting it, but it does raise a concern.

Are we grooming young kids to be LGBT? If so, it is a really bad idea. Our lifestyle is very difficult to endure. No one should be pushed into it. People should choose it on their own. The great majority of people are straight. We should accept that and ask only that we be allowed to live our own lives.

So that leads to the next question: Are we or our allies grooming young kids? I do not have a solid answer. But I have seen enough news items to make me pretty certain that it is happening. It may not be happening as often as the majority thinks, but it is happening. Why else would we be hearing about gender identity training for kids in the first few grades of school? Our Left allies are determined to impose their agenda on American kids at all costs.

It is wrong. It should not happen. And we transgender folk definitely should not support such grooming. We should also make it clear to everyone that we we do not support such actions from anyone, no matter their motives. This is one issue on which we should stand with the majority and say, “Stop it!” The majority might feel more kindly towards us if we did.

We have seen plenty of evidence to suggest that some folk are trying to persuade teenage girls to be transgender. I am not sure what the motivation is, but it is still wrong. Again, we should make it clear that we oppose this recruitment. It is definitely happening. An author named Abigail Shrier has written a book titled Irreversible Damage about the situation. We could avoid a lot of animosity if we made it clear that we do not recruit teenagers to be trans. [Editor’s Note: Ms. Shrier is transphobic and wrote a book based on no real data.]

Staying in the realm of current events, we recently saw a rare leak from the Supreme Court. If the draft decision is sustained according to the reported initial vote, the Roe v. Wade abortion decision will be struck down and abortion laws will be returned to control by the individual states. Does this have any impact on the treatment of transgender persons?

My guess is that it could. On one hand, I never accepted the logic of Roe v. Wade. I am strongly against abortion. I could live with going back to the status quo ante of allowing the states to control the issue, even though some would allow abortion. In that sense, I would agree with the proposed ruling. Given the protests that we have seen, it is clear that a fair number of women now consider unlimited access to abortion to be something of a religious sacrament.

Even though I oppose Roe v. Wade, I wonder if getting rid of it would spark a backlash against gay and transgender persons. The reversal might suggest to some folks that it would now be open season on LGBT persons. We transgender folk would have to remain on our guard to make sure the attacks did not intensify against us.

This leads to the last major question we need to examine. What can transgender people do to deal with the continued attacks on their individual liberty? A lone person cannot do very much about such a mass of haters.

The first thing we can do is to speak out publicly about the abuse we are taking from the Religious Right. At the same time, we could emphasize those points on which we agree with the majority, such as being opposed to transgender grooming. We could emphasize that we believe parents should be primarily responsible for making decisions for their gender-questioning children.

You may ask if I have spoken out in public yet. No, I have not. Yes, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite for discussing the topic here without speaking out in public.

It can be dangerous to draw attention to yourself in this manner. I am far from rich, but I do have a fair amount to lose if public anger turned on me. I asked a transgender support group if they thought one should speak out. The majority opinion of the group was that it probably would do no good and might put the speaker in jeopardy. But if matters get worse, it may become necessary.

If that does not work, what next? The usual. Marches, lawsuits. We must make it plain to our attackers that we will defend ourselves. I would never advocate violence, but the other side might try to use it. In that case, people have a right to defend themselves.

The worst thing would be to do nothing and just take the abuse. It would not stop. It would only get worse.

You might want to check out one group, Freedom for All Americans, that defends the rights of transgender people. Their website can be found here.

A surprisingly large number of Americans are willing to tolerate transgender people and allow us to live our lives with dignity. I have been surprised at how little abuse I have dealt with, especially living in the South. But these legislative attacks are probably just the beginning of further attacks on us by the Religious Right. If not, they will do until something better comes along.

If they want to come after us, we must defend ourselves. When we do not or cannot, something like the following can happen.

A young trans woman was killed in Cherokee County, Ga. on March 19 of this year. According to the article, Kathryn Newhouse was killed by her father, who then killed himself. Other information indicated that the family buried this young trans woman under her male birth name.

So do not try to tell me I am making too much of this situation. Every year, the Transgender Day of Remembrance reads out the names of people like Kathryn Newhouse who have been killed just for being transgender. The kind of attacks that we have reviewed in this article can lead to this kind of violence. It matters a lot.

One of the specialty license plates available in Tennessee copies an old slogan from the Revolutionary War era. It ties into a state park in Upper East Tennessee. My final message is the same as the one on that license plate, but altered to include all transgender persons: “Don’t Tread on Us.”

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Category: Transgender Opinion, Transgender Politics


About the Author ()

Michelle L. Rogers is a transgender female from Chattanooga, TN. She has been out as trans female since October 2018. She is retired from the computer industry and is the author of the book Trans Right.

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