The impact of hateful anti-transgender legislation – a personal perspective

Deanna Jones, blog author

This blog has been provided by my associate consultant and trainer, transwoman Deanna Jones, as we approach the Transgender Day of Remembrance November 20th.

I was asked to speak at the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s DEI Conference back in July of this year. This is a wonderful conference and I advise everyone to try and attend this next year as they continue to expand it. It is a valuable resource to connect and hear DEI leaders in the area.

I was on the panel for how anti-trans laws being passed at an alarming rate affect me, both personally and professionally. The very first question I was asked was this, “as a transgender person and as a parent of a transgender child, how do these proposed laws and the discussion around them impact you personally? My response is below:

I want all of you to image that you have ached to scale a mountain, you are driven to climb this mountain, you aren’t sure why, but not climbing this mountain is not a choice for you, you knew you had to climb this mountain since you were 4 years old. Finally, one day after about 50 years, you try and climb it…It’s not an easy climb, you have some very close people to you who run away not wanting to be anywhere near the mountain, wife, kids, neighbors and other people, but the closer you get, the more beautiful the view becomes.

Suddenly you’re at the top and the view is beautiful and breathtaking. You take it all in and smile. Then, you start to hear some voices, these voices become louder telling you that they are the keepers of the mountain and you are most definitely not supposed to be there. You are told to leave because climbing this mountain is restricted to only “some people”. Then these officials start placing ropes around it with signs that state “penalties” for your type of people being on the mountain. Suddenly, as if these officials have become emboldened by others who are on the mountain cursing you, they start picking up sticks and start chasing you down the mountain.

That’s what it feels like, I know I pushed that metaphor very hard but, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting as to the way I feel. I wonder, why are there so many people who are trying to keep us from getting to the top of the mountain. I want to believe for a better future life for all of us where we can be who we want to be, and climb whatever mountain we want to. Isn’t that a fundamental right as Americans, as a part of humanity?

My partner has a 15 year old son who is transgender…..He calls me Mom I love him so much but he’s scared. It breaks my heart. He is climbing this mountain but now he too feels like people want to push him off. As a Parent of a transgender child, it’s been so wonderful to see the positive changes since he started gender affirming care, both mentally and physically.

His transition has been life saving for him in so many ways. How do I tell him, the State of North Carolina wants to force him to detransition and make him return to the miserable life he was living before he was able to start transitioning? Am I going to have to BE A REFUGEE FROM THIS STATE and take him to a another state that’s friendlier to trans people than this one? I wonder. His well being is at stake. Nearly half of all trans and nonbinary children and teens have suicide ideation, of those 20% attempt it.

If you knew there was something to reduce this danger and help save your child’s life, wouldn’t any parent want to do it? — What do we all want for our children? We want them to be healthy and happy, be loved and supported. The goal is to create a society where everyone has a fair and equal chance to pursue their dreams and aspirations, just as if they were climbing a mountain with the same starting point and resources available to them. This approach fosters a more just and inclusive world where individuals can reach their full potential.

Are you (or your company) complicit in the mass killings at the Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ Club?

Local Colorado Springs memorial to the 5 people murdered at Club Q (Photo KOAA, Alasyn Zimmerman)

Not again! As an out and proud gay man, I feel both sick and angry when I heard the news of a hate-filled AR-15 gunman killing five and injuring at least 25 at Colorado Spring’s Club Q. Club Q was hosting a drag show during the attack to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is a time to focus on the disproportionate number of transgender people killed by violence. (Read my initial blog about this day.) An all-ages family friendly drag brunch was scheduled for the next day.

Why does this keep happening and who is to blame?

A large part of the blame must go to many conservative Republican politicians who continue to demonize the queer community.

US Representative Lauren Boebert (R-Colo) says that drag performances are intended to “groom” children. And what? Turn them into gay or transgender kids?

My own state’s North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson referred to LGBTQ+ people as filth.

Florida passed a law which basically outlaws mentioning gay people or gay families in grades K through 3. What are young kids living with two moms or two dads to think when their own state government sends the message that there is something sick or sinful or wrong with their families?

This continued messaging of hate against any community incites violence. It gives permission to people that because these “others” are a scourge to society, it is perfectly fine to kill and hurt them.

Please consider your role in the increasing number of mass killings in our country.

Now to the hard discussion. Anyone who votes for political leaders who demean any group with hate speech is just as responsible for those night club murders as the gunman who fired the bullets. If you care about life, you have the responsibility to tell the people you vote for and the political party you support that you will not support any form of hate. Your failure to do so makes you complicit in these lost lives.

And not only are individuals who vote to blame, but companies that give political contributions to these hate-mongering leaders at the same time while waving the pride flag and telling their employees they support all diversity are totally hypocritical. We saw that Disney Company could not get away with proclaiming their LGBTQ+ inclusiveness while at the same time donating money to Floridian lawmakers who passed their “Don’t Say Gay” Law. (Read my blog “Companies cannot claim to be LGBTQ+ supportive while contributing to anti-LGBTQ+ legislators” that I published back in April. It tells part of this Disney story.)

Next time you read about a mass killing, please examine your own heart and actions, and ascertain if you are contributing to this pandemic of murder, or doing your part to fight it.