Category Archives: lgbt discrimination

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Mama Bears

You’ve probably seen us lately. We’re the moms holding pink, white, and blue signs that talk about peeing in bathrooms. We show up to Town Hall meetings and spend our days calling our representatives. We flood our Facebook pages with political posts, op-eds about bathroom bills, and the need to stand up for human rights.

Many of us probably had dreams of living a simple life. A family, a career, Friday night pizza night, PTO meetings, and after school activities. But, life took a decided turn when we discovered that our child was transgender because that changed everything.

We suddenly found ourselves as unexpected advocates in a war that we didn’t know was waging. You’d think we’d get used to the ugly comments, the thinly-veiled innuendos, the intrusive questions about our child’s anatomy, or their surgical status.

And, to some extent we do. We pick our battles, educate, share our stories, and try to determine if someone is asking out of a genuine desire to learn, or to arm themselves for a future battle. We do it willingly because we are Mama Bears and we will always protect our children.

We have been called a lot of terrible things by people who don’t agree with the choices our families have made. We’ve been accused of child abuse, of displaying weak parenting skills and creating no boundaries for our children. We’ve dealt with innuendos that inappropriate things were done to our children to “make them that way.”

But, I actually laughed tonight when someone accused Mama Bears like me of using our children as political pawns. Advocating for our children’s rights by talking to our representatives is our job as parents. But, we’ve been given no choice because the federal government has decided to take away the only road map schools had for navigating a civil rights issue that directly impacts our children. We didn’t make our children political pawns. We found ourselves unwilling subjects in a political storm that was already raging before we showed up.

Transgender children face incredible challenges. The attempted suicide rate for the transgender community is greater than 40%. The risk is over 50% for those who face discrimination and bullying in school. The risk is also higher for transgender youth of color who face significantly more violence than their white counterparts.

This is a time when being a white transgender person is extremely hard. Try to imagine how much more difficult it is to be brown, Muslim, or an immigrant in addition to being transgender. Too frequently, I get word about another child who fell victim to the challenges of their existence and another parent whose heart was ripped to pieces, their life forever changed.

I cannot understand why anyone would want to make life harder for this group of children. It baffles me that the federal government is taking the position to let states decide if it is okay to discriminate against transgender youth. Why are they adding themselves to the list of bullies instead of becoming their biggest protector?

How can a child learn to become a functioning member of society if they aren’t even allowed to do the most basic of human functions without discrimination? How can they focus on reading and math when their bathroom options are to get yelled at or to get beat up? Or just as bad, to “out” them to the rest of the school by forcing them into a unisex bathroom. Unisex bathrooms are not the answer when it tells a child that their existence poses a danger to the rest of their friends.

You will continue to see Mama Bears showing up at your Town Halls. We will flood your Twitter feeds, your Facebook pages, your op-eds, and your phone lines. We will continue to invite you to meet with us, meet our amazing children, and learn about the challenges we face as a family. You’ve given us no choice by attacking our children. We are your constituents and we will keep shouting louder and louder until you hear the cries of our dying offspring.

We will keep fighting because we are Mama Bears. And we are angry.

 

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Governor McCrory is a Bully

On Wednesday, March 23, the North Carolina Republican lawmakers held a special off-session meeting (at the tune of $42,000) to introduce a piece of anti-LGBT legislature under the guise of protection for women and girls. The bill was rushed through the House and the Senate (with the Democratic Senators walking out in protest) while Governor McCrory sat in his office, pen poised, to sign the bill into law late on Wednesday night. The whole process took less than 12 hours.

In a “Meet the Press” interview on Friday, I watched in disgust as Republican Representative Dan Bishop sat with his smug grin and called the bill a “return to common sense” because Charlotte had put the protection and safety of women at risk by their new LGBT-friendly ordinance.

Once again, we hear from Republican lawmakers that a sexual predator has been waiting for the moment when putting on a dress and some lipstick will give him the access he needs to assault women and girls in bathrooms. Yes, because that’s all that’s been stopping him.

Let’s be honest. This bill has nothing to do with the protection of women and girls in bathrooms and everything to do with how transgender individuals make the members of the North Carolina General Assembly uncomfortable. If this were really about the protection of women and girls then we should be hearing about tougher crackdowns on catcalling and men grabbing at women on subways, buses, and bars. We’d be hearing a lot more about victim shaming, the misogynistic treatment of women from the Republican front runner for President, and sexual assault in universities.

But we don’t hear any of that. No, the North Carolina Republicans are only worried about women and girls in the bathrooms. They’re on their own once they leave the safety of four walls and some porcelain.

It has already been demonstrated that laws that allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their affirmed gender have not resulted in an increase in sexual assault of women and girls. There are already laws in place that make assault (in any location) illegal. So why these bills?

Because transgender individuals make the North Carolina Republicans uncomfortable. And like any schoolyard bully, they will target who they perceive to be weaker. Governor McCrory and Dan Bishop, you are bullies and bigots.

In a misguided attempt to protect women and girls, they have likely contributed to the assault and bullying of numerous LGBT youth in the North Carolina school system. By not allowing transgender kids the protection of using the bathroom of their affirmed gender, they are outing countless children who will now be forced into bathrooms that don’t fit their gender identity and likely don’t fit their outward appearance. Many of these kids have been using their affirmed bathroom for years, and this law will identify them as being transgender when schools are forced to deny them access to the bathroom they’ve been using.

Clearly, protection of women and girls only extends as far as those with the proper anatomy. If you’re intersex or transgender, like my child, then the North Carolina Republicans don’t care what happens to you. They don’t care. It has been demonstrated that discrimination contributes to the high levels of depression and suicide in transgender youth and this bill just encouraged it. And if you read this article, that’s probably what these people want.

By not allowing Charlotte to add the LGBT community to the class of individuals who are protected from discrimination they have openly declared that it is okay to discriminate against them. Their law now puts every public school in the state at risk of losing federal funds because they’ve made it illegal for public schools to adhere to the Title IX protection for transgender students. So now, instead of protecting women and girls, they are at risk of losing $4.5 billion dollars of federal funds meant to ensure girls and boys an education.

Every LGBT child who is bullied, every transgender individual who is assaulted, every business that loses money because of the backlash of this bill is their responsibility. Not because they are trying to protect women and girls. Because of their open discomfort with the LGBT community.

When you are more focused on the genitals of my child and children just like her, YOU are the pervert, Governor McCrory and Senator Dan Bishop. So, let’s be clear and get this out in the open. You are not worried about the safety of the women and girls in your state. You are worried about sharing a bathroom with someone who is transgender. You are disgusted by the LGBT community. You have no desire to protect their rights and their safety. You will use women and girls to move your bigoted ideas forward showing once again that females are objects to be used when convenient but not important enough to protect with real policies.