One of the stories my mom used to tell on me was how I would wait hours and hours to go to the bathroom. I don’t remember that from my own childhood, but I suppose it explains why I can sometimes forget to get up and go during the work day.
I have friends and family, however, for whom choosing not to go to the bathroom away from home is not about hyper-focus or preference.
For my transgender friends, a bathroom can be a place of suspicion, bullying, and torment. And now that the GOP has included laws like the one just passed in North Carolina as a plank in their platform, the dangers they face rise exponentially.
Yes, the politicians and groups lobbying for these bills say that children and women are at risk if we don’t legislate bathroom use by birth-assigned genders. But the opposite as has been demonstrated over and over again by police reports and studies.
Transgender folks are much more likely to be attacked in a bathroom than any other population. These laws serve only to raise suspicions and encourage vigilante justice against anyone “caught” in the “wrong” restroom.
This is not ok. All of these laws that pretend to be about protecting women and children… They are not about “family values.” They are about dehumanizing real people with real stories that challenge us to move beyond a narrow understanding of gender expression.
Suicidality among trans men and women is often cited at 40% or higher, meaning this: ten times as many of them have seriously considered or attempted to take their own lives (than the general population). Why?
For generations, people who would take up the cause of other people groups and animals still thought nothing of the jokes and stereotypes that put trans people at risk of murder, rape and other violent crimes. Most of us think nothing of laws that make it nigh unto impossible to get identification to match gender expression, which makes travel, health care and employment difficult to navigate at best and dangerous at worst.
Our silence in the face of this reality says to our trans children, brothers, sisters, parents, and neighbors that their lives are of less value, their dreams are less beautiful, their contributions less needed, their very humanity less real.
If there is no greater love than to lay down your own life for the sake of another, then this might just be the greatest demonstration of fear and hate- to erase another’s humanity and dignity.
It is past time for me to speak up, and for that I am ashamed and sorry. It is past time for the rest of the church to stand up and call bullshit on our brothers and sisters perpetrating hateful and fearful acts (purportedly on our behalf) in the name of the one whose perfect love drives out all fear.