Join Prism Book Alliance® as Diana Copland goes Outside the Margins today.
TO ME, IT’S PERSONAL
This post is probably going to seem like something that’s already been discussed to death, and I apologize for that in advance. But there is something that is really bugging me, and when Brandilyn offered me this spot she said I could write about whatever I want to. So, I’m going to do just that.
What’s bugging me, totally disconnected to the fact Donald Trump actually is a candidate for President of the United States (and trust me, that’s bugging me) are the so called ‘bathroom bills’ that are popping up just about anywhere a politician with a large evangelical base is running for re-election, including here in not southern or typically conservative Washington State. And I’ll tell you why these laws, out of all of the other political nonsense this year, is what’s bugging me; because it’s personal. Isn’t that usually when stuff starts to resonate? When it’s personal?
I have two young friends who are at different phases of their transitions of gender identity. One who was born female but identifies as male, and one who was born male but identifies as female. They’ve both had hormone therapy, and are both considering surgery. (It’s expensive, something that is a factor in both cases). I consider both of these kids to be dear friends, and I’ve watched them go through telling their families, taking their pills, changing their names, applying for new licenses and birth certificates and everything else that goes along with a completely new identity, let alone one that is a new gender. And they are brave. I’m telling you, so fucking brave. I don’t know if anything in my life has required the sheer courage I watch these two young people exhibit every. Single. Day.
I met Brendan (Not his real name) at a Harry Potter Convention, but we’d been friends on line for a couple of years, and when I first met her, she was ‘Nicole’. She was in her twenties, and maybe one of the unhappiest kids I’ve ever known. Because she wasn’t being authentic to herself. When she decided to make this change, my first thought was, “whatever makes you happy” because if anyone ever deserved happiness, it was Nic. And thank God, transitioning has helped. Brendan is much more comfortable in his own skin than Nicole ever was, and I rejoice in that.
I met ‘Evan’ (again, not his name) when I hired him to come in and help me on the weekends with my Dad. Daddy had full blown Alzheimer’s, and Evan was a professional caregiver who came in and gave Daddy his shower, helped him change his clothes, sat with him and watched baseball or westerns, anything he liked so that I could get a few hours to myself. Taking care of an elderly relative, even one who doesn’t have something as debilitating as Alzheimer’s, can be exhausting; having a break was essential. My son helped me too, but neither of us was comfortable bathing Pop, and Evan was so kind with him, and so gentle, and Daddy really liked him. I sort of adopted Evan, and he just became one of my kids. Like the football players my son played with in high school and the girls my daughter danced with; another kid who called me mom. He was my ‘date’ at my daughter’s wedding.
The first thing ‘Evan’ changed about himself was he lost an enormous amount of weight. Like, a hundred and fifty pounds. Then, he came to me and told me he was going to be transitioning from male to female. Again, my concern was for what would make him happy. And I really questioned him about it. But he knew what he needed to do to live an authentic life, and so ‘Effie’ was born. (Not her real name, surprise!) I’m closer to this transition that Brendan’s, have watched it ‘up close and personal’ as it were, and I couldn’t have known how prophetic the words “whatever makes you happy” were. Because the fact is, she is happier. Much happier. So much so that she’s not only changed in gender, but in outlook. I worried about Evan; I don’t worry about Effie at all, she’s so much – lighter, in a dozen different ways that have nothing to do with her weight. I couldn’t have imagined what an enormous difference this would make. But then, of course I couldn’t. I wasn’t born in the wrong body; Brendan and Effie were. It really is just as simple as that.
And neither of them would use their transition as an excuse to follow someone into a bathroom and harass them. Ever. They wouldn’t have bothered anyone before, and they wouldn’t now. Anyone saying a true trans person is only using it as an excuse to do something nefarious has no bloody clue who these people are, how brave they’ve had to be, how hard this is. The laws like HB2 in North Carolina, or HB I-1515 in Washington state, or Prop 8 in California, aren’t about protecting anyone. They’re about pointless, useless discrimination against a group of people who for whatever reason don’t live their lives the way certain groups think they should. Whether they’re gay, or lesbian, or bi-sexual or trans, they have offended someone’s sensibilities, and because they aren’t a majority of the population, the people behind these bills, thus far, are getting away with it.
You know, I sort of thought the point of being an American was freedom. Freedom of religion, and freedom FROM religion. We’re supposed to be able to live our lives with the protections of the bill of rights, as long as we’re Americans. Well, now there are American’s being told that the bill of rights doesn’t apply to them, that they aren’t allowed to live as true, unique versions of themselves. That in some places, they aren’t allowed to PEE in the restroom that matches their gender identity because they make someone else uncomfortable.
Really? This is really how we’re going to do this? In the greatest country on earth, (and yes Donald, we are), what we’re going to argue about is where our transgender citizens pee? (I’ll give Trump props for not telling Caitlyn Jenner where she could pee. Other than that, I’ve got nothing.)
We’ve got bigger problems than this, folks. In the United State of America, are we really okay with some of our citizens being discriminated against because of who they love? Are we comfortable with the idea that countries we’ve been friends with, allies with, are now issuing travel warnings to their LGBT citizens that they might not want to come here because the climate towards them is so hostile? Are we really comfortable with cynical people wrapping up bills legalizing discrimination against LGBT people as some sort of defense of Christianity? And what has Christianity got to do with any of this, anyway?
The answer is nothing. Not a single thing. And I’ll promise you something, because I know them; Brendan and Effie wouldn’t follow your children into a bathroom and they don’t care where you pee.
They’d just like the same consideration. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
About Diana CoplandDiana Copland began writing in the seventh grade, when she shamelessly combined elements of Jane Eyre and Dark Shadowsto produce an overwrought Gothic tale that earned her an A- in creative writing, thanks entirely to the generosity of her teacher. She wrote for pure enjoyment for the next three decades before discovering LiveJournal and a wonderful group of supportive fanfiction writers, who after gifting her with a “”Best New Author”” Award encouraged her to try her hand at original gay fiction.
Born and raised in southern California, Diana moved to the Pacific Northwest after losing a beloved spouse to AIDS in 1995. She lives in eastern Washington with four obnoxious cats, near her two wonderful adult children.
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