I’m tempted to characterize those who joined Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in opposition to the guidelines for transgender students during the Fort Worth Independent School District’s May 10 board meeting as an angry mob, with glaring eyes, carrying pitchforks and torches — out for blood.
But that wouldn’t be true. Or fair.
In reality, they are parents who love their kids, just like I love my kids. They want them to be safe; they want them to have a good education. They have hopes and dreams for their children, want the very best for their them.
Just like I do.
If trans people — an extremely vulnerable and marginalized segment of the population — weren’t so deeply affected by this fear, I’d actually feel sorry for these parents. It must be awful to be so obsessed about someone you don’t know or understand sharing a bathroom or locker room with your little snowflake.
Those who gin up those unfounded fears and then fan the flames while trans people continue to die make me want to scrounge around my garage for my own pitchfork and a torch. They are truly the scum of the Earth (apologies to actual scum).
These techniques are not new, and they are deceptively simple. You give people something to be afraid of, then you tell them who’s to blame for making you afraid.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the thing they tell you to be afraid, the ones to blame for your fear, is the transgender community — even though we have done nothing to earn this fear and blame, other than existing.
Every era presents it’s own set of challenges. Change is hard for everyone and the pace of it lately has been dizzying.
In the 1950s, fearmongering was used to target African-Americans in an attempt to fight integration of schools. There would be diseases spread through toilet seats, they said.
That was, of course, bullshit, but it got people scared enough to put up a fight. I’m not so sure what the fear of integrating schools was about. How could a child getting an education be a threat to someone?
But in the ’50s, information was scarce. The Internet didn’t exist. Epidemiology wasn’t what it is today. So the fear spread.
Ultimately, integration happened anyway. And the fears never panned out.
In 1978, anti-gay forces in California launched Proposition 6, also known as the Briggs Initiative, seeking to institute a law requiring the termination of gay and lesbian faculty and staff in the California schools, and prohibiting the future hiring of any gay and lesbian faculty and staff.
Fearmongerers spread hysteria by claiming gay and lesbian teachers would “turn children to the gay lifestyle.” Again, factual information wasn’t as readily available as were the lies. But fortunately, the initiative failed and again, the fears have proven unfounded.
Just in the last dozen years, it was same-sex marriage that shook the very foundations of the GOP and religious right.
“Marriage equality will destroy the sanctity of marriage!” they cried. Fear was spread, laws were passed and lawsuits made it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Obergefell v. Hodges became the law of the land last June, and yet the sanctity of marriage seems to have survived — even the sanctity of those third and fourth marriages that so many who were so worried about other people’s rights to marry.
In 2016, I can see how parents can perhaps be too busy with careers, taking kids to soccer practice, going to church, housework and whatnot to actually read a newspaper or log on to the Internet (other than Facebook, of course).
There is just so much information out there that it can be hard to keep track of it all. You can’t expect a busy mom to actually find out whether a transgender kid is a threat, or not. It’s so much easier to run down to the school board and regurgitate what the lieutenant governor says, or quote a clever hate meme from Facebook.
Let me make it easy for you: Just check out Media Matters’ A Comprehensive Guide To The Debunked “Bathroom Predator” Myth. Transgender people have done nothing in bathrooms to merit this fear. We are as concerned about safety as you are, maybe moreso because our fear of you is most certainly justified. You scare the hell out of us.
And we know that if anything happens in a bathroom, we are probably going to be blamed.
So to those folks who sided with Dan Patrick on Tuesday night, I’m sure you are a nice person. I bet your friends see the compassionate side of you, the funny person you can be, the gracious host or hostess.
You are probably someone that loves animals and cries at sad movies.
So stop for a moment and ask yourself: What was it that made you leave home and drive to a school board meeting so you could yell mean things and interrupt people when it was their turn to speak? What brought out the hatred for people you don’t even know?
Please. Put down the pitchfork and the torch. They must be getting heavy anyway.
Examine what it is you’re really afraid of. Because if your concern is truly for the safety of your children, and it’s caused by where I go to the bathroom, then your fear is misplaced.
Your children are safe as can be when it comes to transgender people and bathrooms.
As a parent, you can only do so much. It’s hard, I know. I’ve raised two beautiful daughters myself. Neither one of them are bigots. They both know the truth — that kids are in more danger from school bullies and the car trip to and from school than they ever will be by going potty with a trans person.
So just stop already. You just can’t stay in a perpetual state of fear when the facts tell you that fear is unfounded.
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 13, 2016.