When I first heard about the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, officially known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, my immediate thought was, “there’s no way this archaic, ridiculous law will pass.” Then I read about Governor Abbot’s initiative in Texas to press criminal charges against parents, caregivers, and medical professionals providing gender-affirming care for trans kids. Once again, I thought it couldn’t pass — a ridiculous right-wing dog whistle in the last gasp of white supremacy, trying once again to other everyone that doesn’t fit into the cisgender, heterosexual white mold.
But then, to my horror, they both passed. And as the mother of a young trans son, I’m scared to be in the United States. I live in the south; I know my state is next.
There are 36 states currently pursuing criminalization of support programs for transgender kids and adults. 2021 was the deadliest year for the LGBTQIA+ community. Period. There were 86 measures introduced against trans kids participating in sports, and another 36 against them receiving gender-affirming care. Some of the false equivalencies being touted by the religious right and conservative movements are that LGBTQIA+ inclusive education leads to pedophilia, and the grooming of young children. Much like their insistence that having a gender-inclusive bathroom will lead to the rape and murder of women and girls. However, the problem is not with the trans community.
It’s not members of the trans community committing the crimes they’re being punished for. In a premeditative offense, right-wing figureheads are blaming the behavior of predatory men and women on the trans community, and on the LGBTQIA+ community when there is no proof that this is the case. There is no evidence that these communities are anything other than being targeted and extremely at risk.
The LGBTQIA+ communities have faced more violent attacks, including rape and murder, and suicides than any other group in the United States in 2020 and 2021. There’s also the thought that this is a knee-jerk reaction to adolescents, teenagers, and young adults’ rising percentage of belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, or exploring the diverse spectrum of experiences that the community encapsulates.
The gay community is not new. The transgender community is not new. These conversations are happening with Gen Z and young millennials because there is now a vocabulary, an understanding, and a wider acceptance. Though right-wing conservatives say we’re going in the wrong direction and our country is facing the destruction of traditional family values, all that’s shifting are inclusive family values where people and communities are appreciated, celebrated, supported, and not isolated or put at risk.
I’m scared for my son. I’m afraid of what this means for my family. I’m furious that in 2022, we’re going backward.
Families supporting their transgender children are doing nothing more than trying to keep them alive. The suicide rate for transgender youth is almost 50%. My child may have a 50% chance of surviving. All the laws, bills and resolutions being raised that continue to alienate and persecute trans families is attacking a group that’s already basically running for their lives.
Young girls are already penned in by archaic dress codes which leave them fearful of not dressing appropriately. Now in Florida, where teachers are being told to report behavior that is out of the line for a child’s assigned gender, there’s another set of rules that attacks young girls just trying to get an education. They must present as feminine, but not dress too “suggestively” (because somehow, yoga pants and spaghetti straps on young girls are sexy). And it’s now up to teachers whether the kids they teach are behaving in line with what society expects of their assigned gender roles. They can be sued or penalized for sharing gender-inclusive or generally inclusive literature or lessons, or if a parent decides that what they’re teaching is wrong or immoral. This isn’t about protecting children; it is about control, fear, and divisiveness.
My child is young, but still faces daily bullying. I worry about what the future will bring, and what support will be available to him when he matures and may need gender-affirming care. To be clear, gender-affirming care isn’t just about top or bottom surgery; it is counseling, it is medical support specifically tailored to the needs of transgender people, it is hormone support or hormone blockers for children and adults suffering from body dysphoria.
This isn’t about being “woke”. This isn’t about being politically correct. This is about keeping families together and protecting at-risk children and young adults. It’s about being compassionate, learning about others’ differences, embracing and accepting those differences, and learning to live in peaceful, respectful harmony with others in our community who may not be exactly like us.
There are plenty of ways to educate children, young adults, and adolescents about people who are different from them or have different values that are age-appropriate and respectful. The thought that this is a hyper-sexualized recruitment process aimed at changing the sexual orientation of young kids is asinine. It’s a misguided, archaic, and harmful attempt to keep us divided.
I would urge everyone to educate themselves about the LGBTQIA+ communities, which are full of joy and beauty, rather than relying solely on the ideas and the racist, misogynistic concepts taught to us within the hetero-patriarchal structure. It breeds confusion, hatred, toxicity and division in a time when everyone is struggling; further division and vilification of some of our most at-risk communities is incredibly dangerous.
We’re losing kids — and we don’t have to.
These celeb parents are so proud of their LGBTQ kids.