Who Are You Protecting

If you haven’t been following the rash of legislation flying about different states here in the US, this might be a good time to have a look.

Mostly because, to me at least, it seems like a bunch of middle-aged White dudes woke up from long naps and, now that Covid appears to be slowly slipping into the rearview, went frantically looking for truly dire causes they could inflate…

For the soul purpose of giving them reasons to parade about in shiny armor, mounted upon heroic stallions.

For a bit of context, there are the attempts to place tighter constrictions on voting in a number of states, Georgia currently leading the pack with a 100-page piece of legislation signed into law last week.

Part of that package makes it illegal to offer food or drink to people waiting in line to vote.

Meanwhile, in Alabama, a new bill aims to make just about any medical treatment designed to ease the transitions of trans minors a felony.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican State Senator Shay Shelnutt, by the way, has reportedly shared that he’s never actually had a conversation with a real, live transgender youth.

In other words, instead of doing any kind of responsibly empathetic due diligence – the kind where one takes the integrous measure of sitting face-to-face with, in this case, trans kids and their families – he went and grabbed a handful of like-minded dualistically-oriented “experts…”

Because who can be bothered with what professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics might actually have to say on this topic.

Thus came to pass, by a 23-4 vote in the Alabama Senate, the ironically named “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act.”

One of the provisions of the bill I find not only onerous, but downright brutal and dangerous, is a requirement for teachers with knowledge of a trans student to out those kids to their parents.

As if the path through adolescence isn’t already naturally fraught with more than enough inherent obstacles.

Demanding that knowledgeable, caring and trusted adults inside a trans kid’s circle betray the sanctity of that trust strikes me as mandated, crushing cruelty, stunningly devoid of compassion.

This is but one of an astounding number of bills banning medical care for transgender youth being floated in 20 American states right now.

Fear is so, so bloody easy.

Fear of unknown, different, misunderstood, already marginalized “others” is wildly easy to manipulate and leverage, particularly when they might be found amongst the innocent, clearly helpless (really?) children in our midst.

Stirring and inflaming fear becomes even easier when anything remotely related to sexuality and/or gender identity enters the picture.

From my perspective, this type of legislation just oozes with the specters of ever more emotional and physical trauma, to say nothing of even more suicides, amongst the already battered trans population.

The age of consent is 16 in Alabama. What that means is that the state acknowledges that at 16, kids are are good-to-go when it comes to making choices about sexual intercourse…

But when it comes to looking at their own gender identity, not so much.

My question: Just who is it that really needs the kind of alleged protections these types of laws provide? And from whom…?

I can’t help but see the twisted irony here – that the men pushing and passing these laws are the very same ones convinced that government is already bloated, over-reaching and must be shrunk.

These are the very same men entrenched in the belief that giving even the slightest side-eye glance in the direction of gun control, for instance, marks the beginnings of a slippery slope away from true liberty…

(Alabama, it should be noted, has the second highest per-capita rate of gun-related deaths in the US right now, running slightly behind Mississippi, which is also floating a bill to withhold services from trans youth.)

But making sure that transgender kids are kept “safe” from the care, attention and treatment they might require to affirm their identity and make their lives potentially richer and more fulfilling?

While I wish it were not the case, I think we’re at the point where we could use some protection from the distorted imaginations of middle-aged white men who can’t handle facing a changing world in which LGBTQ people are recognized, accepted and loved as the whole human beings they are.