It’s been quite a while since my last column in Dallas Voice. It’s not that I haven’t thought of things to write about — more like there is too much to write about!
There has been a dizzying array of distractions going on in Washington, D.C., many of which affect my people — transgender Americans — starting with Ben Carson withdrawing training materials on how to accommodate transgender people in homeless shelters because we might make someone “uncomfortable.”
Now Trump has doubled down on his ban on transgender people serving in the military. And not any little bit of his rationale is dictated by science, reason or the wishes of the Pentagon. No, his “policy” was almost word for word taken from the agenda of the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council, both of which are genuine hate groups with hateful agendas.
It was bigotry on display.
I could write volumes about those and a dozen other issues. But after watching Saturday’s “March For Our Lives” events around the country and listening, I mean really listening, to these amazing, eloquent, beautiful kids sharing their stories, demanding change and calling bullshit on MY generation, it felt like a wake up call. And I hope we don’t over-sleep.
I thought my generation, the Baby Boomers, held so much promise. Some of us went on to do great things, but the wholesale change that we had hoped for has been slow. Boomers have occupied the White House for the past 28 years, and many in this country believe we’ve had our chance.
Make no mistake, change is coming. Listening to these kids, I like what I hear. What I didn’t hear was partisanship, no Democrats vs. Republicans. What I did hear was: “Fix it!”
Not surprisingly, students are sick and tired of being afraid in their classrooms. Schools are a place of learning; they shouldn’t be bloody reminders of mass murder.
Imagine having a millennial president and Congress:
Millennials, are less alarmed by immigration by a 5-to-2 margin. They say that immigrants, in particular Asians and Latinos, “strengthen society” rather than “threaten” its customs and values.
Millennials support marriage equality and legal pot at a greater rate than Boomers. They favor a bigger government providing more services and are less likely to claim a religious affiliation. (We Boomers may talk diversity, but millennials embody it.) Not all of their views line up with either Republicans or Democrats.
But this is where opportunity lies. The issue right now is one we should all agree on: Students shouldn’t be terrified to go to school because some nut with a semi auto rifle might bust in and start shooting. But we DON’T all agree.
In a statement demonstrating extreme ignorance, Republican former Sen. Rick Santorum suggested students would be better served by taking CPR classes than by marching for gun law reform. I won’t even waste ink responding to that kind of stupidity and insensitivity.
The NRA is still arguing against ANY kind of gun control, modifications of equipment or closing gun show loopholes.
If these millions of kids, who will be of voting age in 2018 and 2020, (and the oldest of the millennials will be eligible to run for president in 2024) all get out and vote, the party likely to benefit from this are the Democrats.
If you are a Democrat, that’s great news, right? Maybe. These kids aren’t idiots. They also aren’t going to sit around and wait, nor are they going to listen to excuses. If you can’t get the job done, they will call you out and vote you out.
Democrats may have an opportunity here, but it’s not one where reclaiming the Senate or House is a mandate for the same old business as usual. Democrats may have just one shot at it.
Let’s make sure Democrats are up for the challenge and get it right. If you are running for office (or are in office) and you weren’t at one of the marches around the country, where were you? Listen to what’s being said and who is saying it.
This doesn’t sound the same as what we’ve heard before. This time it’s different. Don’t mistake their peaceful demeanor for passivity. Don’t dismiss their youth for naiveté.
This generation will call Bullshit.
This country has a gun problem. It has a mental health problem. No amount of CPR classes or active shooter drills are going to make it go away.
If we do nothing — I promise you — it will happen again. We must start the conversation and treat the lives of our children as though they are important.
Where are our priorities?
I hope these kids vote. I hope the people they vote for actually listen to them; if those elected to do the job fail to act, they may not get a second chance.
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.