"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Thursday, April 25, 2019

My Letter to The Washington Post

I read an opinion piece in The Washington Post a few weeks ago and my broken-hearted, angry-as-hell rebuttal to it came spilling out into an email as soon as I kissed the kids goodbye and sent them off to school. What I wrote in that email was not an official Letter to the Editor and I was not looking for it to be published, but I was hoping to get some sort of a response to it. To be honest, even just an acknowledgement that I had taken the time to respond to the WP editors about an essay I had read in the print edition of the newspaper that I subscribe to in a day and age where print journalism needs all the paying subscribers they can get. Anyway.

I didn't get a response. Because my head and my heart are full of ALL of the thoughts and feelings about this topic right now...I'm copying my email into this space. I need my head clear of these words and to do that, I need acknowledgement that these words, these feelings, are out in the universe. I need people to see this issue from our point of view and to just open their minds and their hearts....and shut their hateful mouths.

[Note: The original opinion piece can be read by clicking the link in the opening paragraph of my letter. The online title has been changed from the print edition I referenced.]

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My heart broke this morning as I read an opinion piece in the Sunday, April 7, 2019 edition of The Washington Post. The transphobic language printed in the essay 'Parents Should Lead on Teaching Children About Gender' touched a nerve because it's exactly what we fear our 9-year old, who identifies as gender-fluid, will encounter as he grows up in this still shockingly close-minded world.

The assertion that exposure to a children's book [I am Jazz] will lead cisgender students to suddenly question their gender identity is naive and suggests that the writer has never spent significant time around a gender-nonconforming child. In our case, which is echoed by every other parent of gender-nonconforming, gender-fluid, or transgender children I've spoken with, our son's gender-fluidity was apparent from the moment he could express an interest in toys, activities, and clothing. He was younger than three years old and certainly not influenced by his environment or caregivers to express a gender-fluid identity. On the contrary, his world, like the worlds of so many American children today, was strictly gendered, though through no intentional design by us, his parents. His preferences surprised us but we were open to his choices and, as he got older, his self-expression and declaration of his gender identity.

The statement that "the working draft of the policy implementation procedure seeks to expose kids at a young age to transgender-themed materials...and risk convincing healthy, normally developing boys and girls that their bodies are wrong and must be altered with hormones and be vandalized by surgical instruments" is downright hateful. First of all, my child's body is developing perfectly normally. So is his gender identity. Obviously, no one--no doctor or therapist or parent--would recommend hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for a person of any age without careful, thoughtful deliberation on the individual's gender identity. For a child to be considered transgender, he or she must be consistent, insistent, and persistent about their transgender identity for a sustained amount of time. Even then, the first transition that will happen will be strictly social (clothing, pronoun preference, etc.). Most hormone therapy doesn't begin until puberty, and surgical procedures do not occur until after the age of 18. This persistence and insistence of truly transgender children will not come from exposure to a picture book, attending an assembly where a "transgender activist" is speaking, or by allowing other transgender students the right to use the bathroom that matches his or her gender identity.

There is no evidence to suggest that allowing individuals to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity puts women and children at risk of being assaulted. You can read more about that here but the issue has been put to rest so many times during debates over so-called "bathroom bills" that it really isn't new information. There is no evidence that cisgender boys claim to be transgender in order to gain access to the girls' locker room. It just doesn't happen. Boys do not claim to be transgender in order to play on girls' sports teams and to steal girls' scholarships. (And maybe if you were counting on an athletic scholarship for your daughter you should start working on a Plan B anyway, because nothing is guaranteed. What if your daughter sustains an athletic career-ending injury?)

I really can't believe I read this essay in The Washington Post. I know it was just an opinion piece, but it just sickens and saddens me that with all of the real issues and serious concerns facing this country, someone would spend their time picking on our kids by writing (and printing!) this misinformation and hateful rhetoric. Our kids just want to have the right to a public school education where they are free to be themselves, valued by their teachers and communities, and seen for who they are wholly and completely. We're so lucky to raising these beautiful, strong, and resilient children...I just wish the close-minded adults in our community would let them be.

Lesson Learned:
As soon as I hit Publish, my mind and heart will be clear, knowing that these words are out in the universe. Until the next time I read an ignorant opinion piece, anyway...

(But seriously, have you ever heard a more ridiculous argument against transgender students than fear over girls losing sports scholarships to boys posing as transgender girls?! What a world. What a freaking ridiculous world.)

3 comments :

  1. This is a most excellent response to that horrid opinion piece...I wish the Post had printed it. They also declined to print the response a friend and I wrote and submitted. I too am baffled as to why they would publish such a load of vile, hateful, transphobic lies written by an obvious TERF. As a mom of a 9-year-old transgender girl and a 17-year-old nonbinary kid, i agree wholeheartedly...the piece was sickening and freaking ridiculous.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Liz. I'd love to read your letter!

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  2. Well said, that mom. Do we think that gender is so fragile that the very mention of transness is going to break it? Sheesh.

    What happened to teaching resilience, the value of diversity and welcoming the stranger? I despair.

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