End the Fear of Transgender People, SB6

In order to understand the SB 6 ‘bathroom bill’ and how it targets transgender people, you must first understand what it’s like living as a transgender person.

I have a late birthday (October) so I was almost six when I started kindergarten in public school and found out about gendered bathrooms. At home, we just had the one. When I realized I had to use same one as the boys, it seemed odd, but I brushed it off.

I was almost seven when I wanted to go by the name Jessica. When I finished taking the TAAS test in second grade, I was told I could either quietly read a book from the classroom shelf or sit quietly. I chose The Babysitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin over Goosebumps. I read that series all the way into middle school, when my father told me that I should find something more “grown up” to read.

My first crush, in the eighth grade swore that I was a gay guy, and as she was a theatre girl she had no problem with me being gay. I said I wasn’t and we were great friends. I actually had a gay friend my freshman year in high school, and even he could tell I was different. Not gay per se, but more than just an accepting ally. By this time, I learned to suppress my gender issues because I wanted to go into the Air Force.

My first girlfriend dumped me for a girl, and in retrospect, I understand what she saw in me. My relationships from then on wouldn’t last more than two months, and a lot of them would swear that I should be a gay guy.

I didn’t just like girls; I identified as one of them. Gender Identity and one’s orientation are separate. And being raised Catholic (the old-school, latin mass, Mel Gibson’s relatives attended and denied the holocaust Catholic) I knew to keep it silent. No such thing as predestination, but being gay means going to hell, and there was no way my friend ‘chose’ to be gay… so some people were just born to be Damned… for being different. That kind of scorn is a huge factor in the homelessness and suicide rates among LGB teens. Half of all transgender teens attempt suicide because of social harassment and stigma.

So, I suppressed. Overcompensated. Joined the only all-male Air Force outfit in the Aggie Corps of Cadets. Picked fights with the biggest, meanest guy in the bunch because I was trying to prove something to myself. I tried embracing all that toxic masculinity to convince myself I was a guy.

Two months before Field Training, before signing the contract for an Officer’s Commission… I had to make a choice; live a lie, or serve my country. I could have suppressed, but I was trained three Core Values; “Integrity First”, “Service Before Self”, and “Excellence in All We Do.” Those first two conflicted with each other due to ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, because I had to choose between Integrity and Service Before Self.

That’s when I met Alex; she was in the ROTC program with me and a member of the student LGBT group. On Transgender Day of Remembrance, she wore this thin little string on her wrist, both a blue stand for boy and a pink one for girl, to support transgender identities and raise awareness. It moved me, that tiniest thread of support. I knew I finally had someone I could be open with about my identity.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stay in the closet. I never even told my instructor why I dropped out of the program.

I tell you all this so that you can have a bit of understanding; that transgender people aren’t just men who decided to put a dress on one day and go creep in on women in the bathroom. There’s a whole extensive process of expensive therapy and a hormone regimen.

In fact, transgender people have one in 12 chance to be brutally murdered in their lifetime. And the killer, if they are ever caught, can claim ‘gay panic’ (self-defense because a ‘man’ saw another man the way that men look at women) in every state but California. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, advocates that people like me should be shot on sight if I’m in a women’s bathroom. Homophobia, I believe, is linked to misogyny, and we are the scapegoats that get accused of being ‘sexual predators’. Not Josh Duggar, not Mark Foley, not even Denny Hastert. The thing is, predators work hard at blending in and trying to look ‘normal’. And just so you know, the hormone regimen trans women like myself take on a daily basis, by choice, includes testosterone blockers that kill the libido. This ‘chemical castration’ is used in other countries to rehabilitate sex offenders.

Now we have Lt Gov Dan Patrick and SB 6 looking out to ‘protect women’s privacy’ in restrooms. How will this be enforced; will we have to carry around birth certificates and look feminine enough for some big-government potty police? Are we to start segregating the lesbians into their own bathroom, out of some need to ‘protect our straight women and girls’? Decades ago, it was scandalous for women to even wear pants; are we really going to go back to forcing that kind of gender stereotype to force women to look ‘girly’?

A few decades ago, we couldn’t have gay people teach in schools because of that same dog-whistle about LGBTQ people and children. One friend of mine is a schoolteacher, and met with parents holding ‘Protect My Kids’ signs. He introduced himself and said he was a teacher there, and was trans. He looked them in the eye and asked, “What are you afraid of?” They had no answer.

We need transgender people to be understood and humanized because Senate Bill Six isn’t a partisan issue. We just want to exist.

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