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What’s the Plan?

| Jun 26, 2023
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The Plan

We have all seen the war that the Christian hard right has launched against the transgender community in the last few years. It has shocked most transgender people in its depth, ferocity, and quick spread. Most Southern states have joined in the war along with a few heartland states.

I believe most of us are well aware of the kinds of attacks that these evildoers have aimed at us. They include limits on transgender medicine for minors and even adults in a few states, bathroom bills, sports bans, redefinitions of gender and sex to our disadvantage, and others. While various states have passed bills to inflict one attack or another, we can reasonably fear that all of the states will eventually try to pass all of these bills to launch the all-out assault on transgender persons.

Our community seems to now recognize the real danger that this war poses to our very existence. However, we do not seem to have any type of notable plan for how to respond to this fight.

A few organizations and individuals have filed legal actions against specific pieces of legislation, but that is about as far as it goes. Fortunately, judges have consistently ruled in favor of the transgender community. But we cannot count on that to continue forever, and it would be a foolish strategy to presume that judges will always protect us.

I do not have a complete, all-encompassing plan for how to deal with this major threat. Only a miracle worker could do that. But like Paul Revere, I can sound the alarm. I can call for us to begin to come up with a plan.

If we do not come up with a plan, our enemies will be able to achieve their goals. We will lose all access to trans-related health care — even the adults among us. We have already seen that in places like Florida, where nurse practitioners were banned from providing gender care to any transgender person. We will lose access to all public bathrooms. In general, we will be turned into second-class citizens with few civil rights. They may even be able to force us to leave the state in question or detransition back to our birth sex whether we want to or not.

As part of this attack, the states will start to draw up lists of trans people so they can come after us when the time is right. A couple of places like Texas have already started the process, though it is not clear how far along they have gotten. For all we know, some places may have begun this work in secret.

So what can we do?

The first and most important step is to begin to organize ourselves. To quote Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” If we do not organize, we will be easy to pick off one at a time.

This kind of organization can take different forms. For now, the only real organization we have is the various local support groups. It would help a lot if transgender people would meet in their local groups to work on these problems and look for possible solutions. The more people who look at these issues, the more likely we are to find usable actions. The local groups could begin to talk to each other and publicize their work. This step would make sure that we all hear about the most innovative approaches to handling this disaster.

Next? I have previously called for the formation of a national association of transgender persons. We need this now more than ever. If our opponents had any idea of how many of us there really are, they might take another look at their actions. Other pressure groups around the country advocate for their preferred causes. The more effective groups are able to bring about real progress for themselves.

I firmly believe we could achieve a lot with a national organization. There would be risks. A hostile government agency might target the group to attack transgender persons. But I would rather go down while fighting than just sitting on my couch.

What else could a national organization do? It could coordinate the filing of legal actions against all of these anti-transgender laws. We need a much better response to the situation than the scattershot approach we have seen up to now. We need to challenge all of the laws that attack us. It takes coordination to do that properly. It also takes money. A national organization could raise funds to support the legal actions, which the current groups cannot do effectively.

A national organization could do a much better job of seeking pro-transgender publicity with the mass media. A news organization could easily find a source for a story whenever necessary. Therefore, the organization’s leaders would be covered in the national news when the situation warranted it.

A national organization would also be a way to support transgender people. The local groups do a pretty good job of this, but the more people you have in one group, the better off you are.

Maybe this will happen someday. More likely, it will not. So we need to focus on working within our local groups.

The local groups can do a lot. They know the local situation better than a national organization, so they would have a good idea of which issues need to be addressed immediately. They might be better able to lobby governmental groups to seek positive outcomes for the transgender community. They may also be able to organize rallies at a local level more effectively.

One thing that I very much hope will happen is that local groups will begin talking about these situations in their meetings. Even if nothing else happens, we need to discuss these attacks and look for ways to address them. If you are in a local group, please ask them to spend time at a meeting talking about these situations. I hope to bring this up in the group that I sometimes attend.

Unfortunately, it looks like some of the overall society has hated us ever since we started to become visible. But it is only in the last few years that certain groups have decided to start a campaign to attack us. This has allowed some people to let their hatred shine through. There has been some speculation about why this happened now, but it can only be speculation. I will let others look at that side of the situation.

This campaign did not just happen. A few shadowy figures on the hard right decided to attack transgender people using the legislative process. In a previous article, I mentioned a group called the Alliance Defending Freedom. Its founders included James Dobson of Focus on the Family and D. James Kennedy, the deceased minister at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dr. Kennedy also had a notable televangelism ministry. This group has been accused of drafting sample legislation for anti-transgender legislators to use in their states. I assume there are other groups pursuing similar aims.

We need to find these people and let them hear us. We also need to let the world know that they launched this campaign against us. They should not be allowed to get away with this stealth attack.

We do need to remember, though, that not everybody hates us. Even in my home state, which has passed some nasty laws against us, the average person does not try to attack transgender persons. We can still live here — for now. What we must do is try to plan for the future.

Now we need to talk about the individual transgender person. What do we do to respond to the attacks on us? This is an area where the local groups can help people come up with a legitimate plan.

One of the issues facing us is loss of transgender medical care. Maybe a state will pass a law that will stop us from getting the hormones  we need to present as the gender we feel ourselves to be. How do we deal with that? Or maybe the state decides to cancel all of our name changes and put us back to our legal birth names, or prevents us from changing our gender markers on official documents. My home state already does the latter.

Or what if a state takes the ultimate step and decides to put us in jail just for being transgender? Laugh if you want, but it is at least possible that some state would go that far. I could imagine it in Florida or Tennessee. Why do you need a registry of transgender persons unless you want to punish them in some way? I can imagine a day when we all sit inside some concentration camp day in and day out. I can even imagine a time when a state might decide to execute us just for being transgender. It is very unlikely to happen, but it can be imagined.

All of us need to devote time to considering the various possibilities that could happen to the transgender community in our state and deciding how we will respond to them. It is always better to have a plan than to wait for bad stuff to happen.

I will not leave Tennessee yet. This is my home. I am as much a Tennessean as any of the religious transgender haters. They have no right to try to get rid of me. But they may try to do it anyway.

Would I bring a lawsuit on my own? I doubt it. I would not have the resources to pursue that kind of legal fight. I might join in an existing action, depending on whether or not it seemed feasible.

I am not sure where the line comes that would force me to leave the state. I also am not at all sure where I would go. The states that offer themselves as sanctuaries for transgender people are not ones that I would want to live in. I am also a Southerner and wish to remain in this part of the country. Cold Northern winters hold no appeal for me. Neither do very high taxes and insane social policies that are killing some cities. Finally, I am not at all sure that the average citizens of those states would truly want us coming to their areas in numbers.

So where do I draw the line? I do not know yet. I will have to conduct those deliberations. Maybe if we sat down in groups, we could make more rational decisions.

I fear that a few transgender folks will be tempted to resort to physical violence against our enemies. That would be the worst possible thing we could do. It would give them the moral superiority they want to tell us what despicable perverts we really are. We have the right to defend ourselves, but we should not expect to have even that honored if the enemies truly decide to come after us.

In no case should we try to assault people like Ron DeSantis. He is not the only person in Florida who thinks this way. There are plenty of others who would gladly take over the fight. It is a shame that transgender people may never be safe in Florida again. I would like to visit it again someday, but not now or for a long time to come.

When bad weather approaches, we usually take steps to protect ourselves from it as best we can. Let us do the same here. Let us sit with each other and plan our actions to protect ourselves from the cursed enemy. It will not guarantee success, but it will give us a much better chance to survive in a hostile world.

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Category: Transgender Opinion


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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