Trans Rights Are Human Rights

A group of people sit and stand in a circle. One person holds a Pride flag. The background is the wall of an historic building with two arches. This artistic photo is tinted yellow.
“Dia de Trans,” celebrated in the beautiful city of Cartagena, Colombia. Picture by Juan Pajaro Velasquez

“Rarely has an issue that so few people encounter — and one that public opinion analysts have only recently begun to study in depth—become a political and cultural flash point so quickly,” said Jeremy W. Peters in a brilliant New York Times news analysis. The piece points out that while a minuscule part of the population feels “threatened” by the “unfair competition” of trans girls in school and college sports, nearly all students feel unsafe in school — and with good reason. Another piece, this by Megan Rapinoe in the Washington Post, talks about social conservatives chasing a problem that does not exist.

In the White House, thankfully, reason and human decency recently prevailed, when the Senate confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine as the first Assistant Secretary for Health. She pledged to “promote policies that advance the health and well-being of all Americans,” including transgender people like herself. But her confirmation 52 to 48 should not have been so close. The article quotes Dr. Levine as saying, “Sadly, some of the challenges you face are from people who would seek to use your identity and circumstance as a weapon. It hurts. I know. I cannot promise you that these attacks will immediately cease, but I will do everything I can to support you and advocate for you.”

“Any attempt to discriminate against trans kids or trans people is actually against the law and against nondiscrimination laws already on the books,” said Reggie Greer, senior White House advisor on LGBT issues to the White House.

Mississippi recently became the second state to ban transgender women in sports, and lawmakers have introduced similar bills in 25 other states. And the Arkansas governor earlier this month allowed medical workers to refuse to treat LGBTQ people.

“Transgender and non-binary people face significant cultural, legal and economic challenges, but continue to bravely share their stories, boldly claim their seats at the table and tirelessly push equality forward,” said Human Rights Commission President Alphonso David. “The transgender and non-binary community’s pride, power and resilience should be a lesson to us all. As advocates, we must commit to learning together and building a world where every person can truly thrive.” HRC has already marked 12 violent killings of transgender people for 2021.

For those who doubt the authenticity of sexual and gender identity, the science supports the trans community. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Gender identity and sexual orientation are fundamental independent characteristics of an individual’s sexual identity. Scientific American documented that “sex is anything but binary” and urges people to “stop using phony science to justify transphobia. Sex and gender are not the same. s

Human decency and kindness also support the trans community.

 

During Pride Month, a Very Unhappy Anniversary.

Pulse Club Anniversary - Twitter

Two years ago this day, a deranged gunman entered and shot and killed 49 people, wounding 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. These people are in our hearts and thoughts; we ought not afford their attacker the attention he sought. Yet, in this outburst of lethal hate, love prevails, just as it did at the nightclub. After all, in the name of a comic book anthology, “Love Is Love.” This book comes with a hearty recommendation.

In a thoughtful tribute, the New York Times today remembered the victims and survivors of this atrocity. Indeed, these are lives lost or forever changed. Shamor v’zakhor: observe and remember.

This year was different from last. Since then, there was the tragic Parkland shooting. Indeed, Marjory Stoneman Students were present, with a very important message to tell. A photo anthology from the Orlando weekly captured the moment. Yes, guns are the problem. or at lease a major part of it. An interactive graphic shows the number of shootings that have occurred in 5-, 10-, 15-mile radii from the Pulse nightclub since this day two years ago. there were 175 shootings within 5.2 miles , 199 shootings at 5.8 miles, 282 shootings at 7.5 miles, all the way up to 392 shootings at 15 miles. Across the nation, deaths by firearms – both shootings and suicides – that is 93 deaths on an average day.

The day after the tragedy, commentator and writer John Pavlovitz penned a beautiful, haunting poem on his blog. “The Forgotten Children Killed in the Pulse Shooting.”  The 49 victims were human beings, loved and treasured by their parents.

“Not statistics, not people groups, not causes or culture war symbols, not illustrations or examples or stereotypes or case studies.

Children.

Someone’s children.”

Or, in the words of Janusz Korczak, these adults who were once children, were:

“individuals who are people, not people-to-be, not people tomorrow, but people now, right now, today.” 

Love in All Its Forms Will Turn Darkness into Light

Love Is Love is a beautifully done 144-page anthology expressing a wide variety of emotions and thoughts in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Love Is Love is a beautifully done 144-page anthology expressing a wide variety of emotions and thoughts in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

One year ago, the world woke up to news of unimaginable horror: a lone gunman entered a Pulse, a dance hall in Orlando, Florida. Inside, many people were enjoying themselves in a place they felt safe to express their love, who they are. Their affirmation was shattered in the predawn darkness of June 12, 2016.

Feeling helpless in the aftermath of this tragedy, a prominent writer of comics and other books, Mark Andreyko, felt he had to do something—something. Like many of us, he took to Facebook. He reached out to his own community, suggesting people involved in writing, drawing, and inking comics somehow contribute. By late afternoon, offers contributions poured by the dozens. All were united by the vision that “Love creates. Love heals. Love gives us hope. Love is love.”

As Patty Jenkins writes in her introduction, the many artists succeeded in “turning darkness into light through art.” What we have are 144 pages expressing hurt and hope, acceptance and rejection, bravery and fear, and love. “Diversity makes us stronger. Embracing it makes us more human.” Each page tells such a story; yet, the artwork and writing is as diverse as was the community at the Pulse nightclub that night. “Love? What is it? Most natural painkiller what there is. Love.” Here, artist Joseph Michael Linsner was quoting Beat Generation writer William S. Burroughs, adding his artistic interpretation. On the facing page is a poetic excerpt from another writer named William, namely Shakespeare. Artists Jim Lee and Mark Chiarello pay tribute to another beloved author, J.K. Rowling, in quoting Aldus Dumbledore: “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hears are open.” Elsewhere, figures of Love, Peace, and Unity hold up planet Earth while diabolical, angry representations of Hate, Intolerance, and Fear threaten beneath in a heroic struggle of good versus evil in a piece by Mark Buckingham. Readers will find other favorites among the pages of this gem of a book. And by purchasing a copy, one will also do something – spread the ever-important message of Love Is Love; in addition, the writers and IDW Publishing will donate the proceeds of all sales to help the families (in every sense of the work) of those lost and other survivors. Love will survive.

A thoughtful review in the Huffington Post and another in the New York Times include other examples from this anthology.

Finally, there is the classic music video by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Same Love feat, by Mary Lambert.

Please watch this space for my forthcoming review of another excellent book, though one of a very different nature, Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality.

Rethinking Sexism Gender