An open conversation about the new TRANS discrimination laws.
April 15, 2016
It was time that I worked on a blog post, and I was going to start with a; what else do you doula idea. Other than being a doula, what other jobs do you have to draw in clients and support them. However, I had to change it. Recent anti-LGBTQ legislative acts that have been passed in various states have derailed any thoughts I have been able to put together. I feel the need to change my focus and address what I think is an incredibly important topic.
First I feel the need to disclose my positionality, how I have reached my stance on the issues at hand. I was raised in a house that had no religious preference, to two mothers. Up until 4th grade I was confused that other families didn’t have two moms. Who did they go to when the first one said no? I went to private education until high school, the kind that didn’t even bother with grading systems. I remember being bullied by those older and bigger then I was. I remember bullying those who were weaker than I. (I feel terrible about that now David.) For high school, when given the choice by my parents, I chose public school to expand my ability to socialize with people. I found myself invisible in public school, one of 2500 students in a building meant for 1750. Upon graduation I had the self-awareness to recognize that traditional college education was not for me. I spent ten years sailing tall ships and being part of a very open community. Upon swallowing the anchor, my wife and I moved to Seattle where I realize that we are in a wonderful little bubble of liberal safety. When working in the fishing industry here in Seattle it was like a step sideways into bigotry. Daily topics included how the gays were going to destroy society, objectification of women, and racial slurs about any non-white, or non-christian culture. Now working in the birth professional setting I see and read about ingrained racial and cultural bias so deeply seated that articles like this are written: disparities in pain management. Although I also see a lot of good people working with good intentions.
Now that we have established somewhat where I am coming from, here is some soul searching. As I sit here preparing to blast the conservative world about fear mongering and bigotry, I need to understand that I am steeped in white male privilege and I combat a bias and my own stereotyping. It is a conscious effort sometimes to not assume that middle America is full of dumb, red necked hicks who live in trailer parks. Acknowledging this, I shall attempt to continue.
An article from almost exactly one year ago marked that there were more than 85 bills proposed in 28 states. To legalize discrimination. That number has only grown since then and the most recent discrimination legalizing legislation in North Carolina and Mississippi have personally offended my sense of humanity. Touted as religious freedom laws, on the surface one requires that use of public restrooms be divided by sex at birth. However aside from forcing someone to use a bathroom inappropriate for them, hidden within the bill is loss of the right to sue for discrimination. Housing and job discrimination legalized, these remind me of Prop 9 in Oregon in 1992. I remember going to rallies with my parents and the difficulty they had explaining to twelve year old me that this law is attempting to discriminate against them. At that time the claim was no special privileges, these are even more bald faced in their bigotry. The new Mississippi law protects three specific discriminations. Religious belief that homosexuality is wrong, that premarital sex is wrong, and that trans folk are inherently wrong. In a misguided attempt to protect the beliefs of a cultural construct, we are denying the rights of those targeted by this law for their very existence.
I find myself screaming at the top of my social media lungs. Why can’t we learn from the mistakes of our past? Short history ago, we were incredibly cruel to the homosexual slice of our culture. Not until 2004 were same sex couples given the right to marry one another. A Massachusetts court finally found that the prohibition of gay marriage was unconstitutional because it denies dignity and equality of individuals. Where is the dignity and equality of allowing discrimination for a person's gender? How is this sexism any different than what women's rights fought for, and how can this possibly stand when we look at those laws that were passed? Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sex as well as race, religion, and national origin
In fact, here is the exact text:
(a) Employer practices
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer -
(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or
(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Throughout our history we have failed to learn from these mistakes, it seems like a near constant that somewhere in the world a genocide is being carried out. A people are being suppressed because of their skin tone. A religion is being demonized for the acts of a few. Yet we experience these atrocities again, and again.
I do not delude myself into believing that my ranting in a blog will make a difference. I can only channel a little hope. I hope that through this and through my own living of life, I can engender conversations about the right and wrong of actions against any population. I hope that I can demonstrate through my own actions the normalcy that should exist for all. Be it the LGBTQ community, single women, caring men, or any culture that differs from mine. I hope that one person who reads this will carry that same hope forward. I hope that one person is you.