We're human beings. As such, those are three things that we organically do or seek out. They are not difficult. They do not require hours of study, angling, debate.
Yet we have corrupted them all. Saving compassion, empathy, and community for those who are like us. Segregating along myriad lines - color, religion, culture, orientation, politics. Segregating based on ignorance and fear - both living in a vicious feeding cycle where one cannot survive without the other.
The result? Distrust, hate, misunderstanding, NO understanding, vengeance, aggression, death.
As the very proud parent of a transgender son, I have written many times before of support being so important, critical even, in the continued forward motion of their lives. I have seen it firsthand. I have been in the trenches where the emotional warfare of fear, confusion, anger, uncertainty, and darkness battle. And I have been there as each battle is faced head on with an army of love, of caring, of support - leading to another day, another win.
The battles, not the war.
The war will rage on every time he steps outside, is in unfamiliar surroundings, debates taking someone into his confidence, reads yet another story of a transgender suicide or murder.
Because society is willfully ignorant, intentionally cruel.
I present to you the great minds that run Stafford County Middle School in Virginia.
The school has one transgender student. Scratch that. The school has one transgender student that they know of. Percentages and statistics being what they are, there are more - struggling, fearful, hiding, trying to figure it out in their minds.
Last week, during an Active Shooter Drill (what a lovely country we have created), while all the other students in the school were shuttled into bathrooms and locker rooms according to gender, she was made to wait on the bleachers in the gymnasium while the brain trust that runs that school debated where to put her. They literally stood there debating her basic humanity and right to live. She ended up being allowed to shelter in the hallway OUTSIDE the locker rooms, away from the other students.
Lest they catch the trans, I guess.
I cannot even begin to imagine the shame, embarrassment, isolation, and fear she felt. And the message sent straight to her heart that she was not worthy of the same literal protections and right to life as the other students in her school.
Of course, as the incident has risen to the national news, like so much rancid cream, the Stafford School District issued a statement. Spokesperson Sherrie Johnson stated, “We take such matters very seriously and they will be addressed. The welfare of all students is of the utmost importance for SCPS.”
Yet it's obviously not.
The reality is we have created a country in which going to school and coming out alive could be placed in all the Sports Book lounges in Vegas. As a parent, you just don't know. As a student? God love them. They are beyond brave. More than anyone, they know the odds, they feel the fear. Daily.
So these drills are necessary. Fire, tornado, bomb threats - they all have drills. And now Active Shooter. It is shameful.
But more shameful than that is the heinous disregard for the life of a child simply because the adults choose ignorance and cruelty over compassion, empathy, understanding.
What they did goes right to the heart of the suicide rates among transgender youth.
Think not? Try these latest stats on for size. Just under half of all teens who identify as male vs the female listed on their birth certificates HAVE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE. AT LEAST ONCE. AT LEAST. <---Get that part? That means many have tried MANY times to escape a life their families or society simply will not let them live in peace.
42% of youths who currently do not identify exclusively as male or female HAVE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE. AT LEAST ONCE.
Trans youths who identify as female vs the male designation on their birth certificates? 30% HAVE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE. AT LEAST ONCE. And those youths who are simply in the battle questioning their gender and why everything feels wrong? 28% HAVE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE. AT LEAST ONCE.
These numbers are real. They represent real human beings. Human beings who think, feel, breathe, bleed just like you.
When my son came out to me and received nothing but love and support, that did not make these numbers vaporize. Saying it out loud was only the very first step on a very long journey. And those numbers stayed with us for a very long time. Those numbers kept me company at night, refusing me sleep, peace, security. And even though my child is doing remarkably well, is happy, forward thinking and forward moving - those numbers still hover in the back of my mind.
What those school officials is did to that child is drenched in their cowardice, their abject stupidity, their staggering soullessness.
That trans child isn't out to peek on fellow students. Is not hiding in bathrooms ready to molest unsuspecting peers. That child is not a monster or pervert. That child IS A CHILD. A child who has bravely spoke her truth, and who is simply trying to live fully as who she knows she is.
Yet here we are, society shoving its intrusive Gladys Cravitz nose into someone's personal life, trying to tell her who they think she should be. Hear me now - YOU DON'T GET TO MAKE THAT DETERMINATION.
And if the best you can do is open your venal maw and spout ignorance, hate, and condemnation? Then shut the absolute fuck up. The trans person is not the danger. YOU ARE. The trans person is not trying to draw attention to themselves. YOU ARE. The trans person is not the danger in the bathroom. YOU ARE.
YOU ARE THE SUICIDE ATTEMPT RATE.
What happened to her will leave its mark forever. Her life will forever be endangered by the bigots and small minds around her.
THIS is not a drill.