All the trans news that fits! (and some that never will)
If there is one thing we can all bank on after the historic May 9, 2016 announcement by U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch regarding the rights of Trans people, it is that a lot of new laws and policies will be written all across the country this year, and old laws and policies will be reviewed and re-written. Let me start right off by thanking the U.S. Department of Justice for lifting us all up and moving the discussion forward.
Of course, there is more than one side in this debate, and we should all expect that things could get be a little tense in the coming months.
Yes, it’s also about doing the best thing, the right thing, and doing it in the best way, the right way.
But, mostly, for me, it’s about winning.
I admit it. I really want to win and I won’t stop until I do.
I really want to win so I don’t have to worry about which restaurants will seat me and my friends when we go out for dinner.
I want to win so I can choose a doctor based on their skills and my insurance plan, rather than having to always base my decision on whether or not the doctor is “Trans friendly.”
I want to win my rights because I don’t want to be afraid of losing my job. I like what I do, and I am really good at it, too.
I want to win so I don’t have to decide which bathroom I can survive in.
I want to win because if I don’t, I will live the rest of my life . . . .
We’re all going to have to find some common ground if we’re going to get through this. Here’s a good place to start. Let’s all agree that words and how we use them matter. And, let’s agree that’s true whether it’s in our daily lives or when we are making policy, creating new laws, and interpreting existing laws. Language unlocks what is inside each one of us. The definitions of the terms used in the debates over the rights of Trans people (e.g. Gender Identity, Gender Expression) must be agreed upon before the discussion has any chance of achieving any results that would move us all forward.
It won’t be easy. Some will refuse to change their stance, even a little. In the 24-hours since the announcement, I have read a number of angry dissenting opinions. Many are emotional outbursts filled with moral outrage.
I get that. My own response has been an emotional outburst, as well, but filled with the emotion of finally having won something. What a difference from the moral outrage I typically feel when my rights and the rights of other Trans people are violated, when another Trans woman of color is murdered, another Trans child is bullied off their sports team . . . . We lose and we lose and we lose.
But this time we won. Wow.
As I was poring over the news reports and op-ed pieces today, it reminded me that one side of the debate – North Carolina Governor McCrory, et al — is focused on trying to solve a problem that exists, and can only exist, in a world where there are just two sexes, two genders, two sexualities. It is, quite frankly, all they know and all that most of us have been told was true. Education, science, valid research, and rhetorical analysis are the enemies of those who believe that successfully navigating the future requires us, as a society, to preserve our integrity as we travel into the ever changing world around us.
This side requires a strict interpretation of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964. But, the integrity of an argument, no matter how solidly built it might have seemed at the time, is useless when the premise and the purpose for that argument are no longer valid.
Which brings us to the other side of the debate – that of Attorney General Lynch et al – which is non-binary, or at least leans much more heavily into that circle. This side argues that since 1964, science and valid research have revealed quite clearly that there never were just two sexes, two genders, two sexualities. It also understands that the key to societal change is an education that reflects current science and research that is communicated in a thoughtful, respectful, but purposeful manner. It requires basic rhetorical analysis of one’s own message, as well as the messaging of others, to ensure that our words accurately and effectively convey the meaning we intended, and that we hear and understand what was meant to be said.
This side also realizes that the best way forward for all of us has more to do with dignity than it does the integrity that arises from old ideologies based on what we, as a society, wanted to believe was true more than a half-century ago.
For me, it’s all about winning our rights in 2016, not in 1964.
I really want to win.