I don’t want to write “transphobic,” because phobia has to do with fear, and the things Bill Lee and Tennessee republicans have done to Trans people in the past few weeks goes WELL beyond fear… His actions are purely hateful, and an overt attempt to let Trans people know that they are NOT WELCOME in the “Volunteer State.” There has to be a suffix that signifies a progression beyond simple fear of something, and moved into an outright enmity, revulsion, and hostility towards someone. I don’t know: “-misia” or “-odium”… Something. Because make no mistake: This is not fear. This is hatred. It is clear contempt and plain prejudice, which many are calling “The cruelest anti-trans law in the nation.” And Bill Lee has signed it into law.
The bill that Bill Lee signed into law a couple days ago (House Bill 1182 / SB 1224) is just the latest in a string of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation to come through the Tennessee legislature. He recently signed a bill banning transgender athletes from competing in sports (SB 228), he signed a wildly discriminatory bill requiring Tennessee teachers to inform parents if they are going to be discussing any LGBTQIA characters in their classroom so that parents can opt their child out of that discussion (SB 1229), and another transgender bathroom bill focused on demeaning Trans students in our state (HB 1233). It looks like the Tennessee legislature took all that time they saved by ignoring a worldwide pandemic which killed over 12,000 Tennesseans, and refocused themselves on attempting to indoctrinate hatred and discrimination into our laws. And they were fairly successful.
This latest law bans treatments for Trans youth and requires Tennessee businesses to post a sign alerting people if that business has either a “formal or informal” policy of allowing Trans people to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity, rather than the sex assigned to them at birth. Essentially, it’s like saying, “Warning: We don’t check people’s genitalia before they enter our restrooms,” and it’s designed to be as dehumanizing as possible. Think about if a state legislature required businesses to warn patrons if that establishment wasn’t enforcing racial segregation. And someday, our grandkids will look back at this with the same shameful astonishment we look back on pictures of “Whites Only” signs hung on businesses.
I’ve written before about this nonsense controversy surrounding Trans folk using bathrooms. You can READ IT HERE. Please read it… I spent a while on it, and I feel like it makes a pretty good case. There are so many Trans men and women out there who you would NEVER know were Trans… And seeing one of them in the bathroom inconsistent with their identity would — believe me — FULLY freak people out. And beyond that, it would put that Trans man or woman in very real danger. Consider this…
Imagine being such a monster that you focus your energy on making life harder for one of the most vulnerable, discriminated-against groups of people in the world — a group of human beings who are more than TEN TIMES MORE LIKELY to attempt to take their own life. Imagine having the privilege of being elected to serve the people of a state, and being such a villain that this is the kind of thing you prioritize: Codifying discrimination and hatred. These bills are written by “dangerous anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others,” but they are propelled by misguided christians who are attempting to make their bigoted idea of “sin” illegal… And if their attempt at theocracy fails, they are at least trying to make life for Trans folx as dehumanizing as possible. And it honestly breaks my damn heart.
Please read the heading on that tweet. I don’t know David Dark personally, but I have a lot of people I respect who love him. I follow him on Twitter, and one of the things he regularly posts is about how “There are so many ways to hate God.” Likewise, “There are so many ways to love God.” Bill Lee identifies as a christian… As a man who loves God. I can’t imagine looking at signing this bill as anything other than an act of pure hatred. 1 John 4:20 says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” Honestly, I don’t see the hatred and bigotry at the heart of these laws changing in my lifetime in a state like Tennessee. Human consciousness changes slowly, and there are simply too many people living here who cannot yet discern between hating God and loving God… Acts which are best distinguished by how we love the people around us. But in the midst of these hateful and discriminatory surge of laws, we can look for ways to LOVE God.
And one of those ways is by loving the Trans people who live around you. Reach out to them. Remind them that they are loved. Publicly and vocally oppose these new laws. Call your representatives. Spend your money at businesses who are openly Trans affirming. As the Human Rights Coalition shows, “States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, & reputational harm.” For many of the people pushing these laws, it is not effective to attempt to shame them or make a moral case for equality (mostly because of their lack of shame and their very different understanding of morality), but what HAS shown to be somewhat effective is showing them the negative economic effects of these hateful, discriminatory laws. There are so many ways to hate God… And so many of those ways are being displayed right now in states with GOP-controlled legislatures. But until that can be turned around, it’s so important to look for ways to LOVE God. And with the passing of these laws, our Trans brothers and sisters are probably feeling more than a little unloved right now. They are feeling hated. Let that break your heart the same way it breaks God’s. Work to change that culture of hatred. We can’t claim to love God while not loving the Trans brothers and sisters we see around us.
Thank you again for reading. I believe the trajectory of human consciousness is moving in the direction of equality and justice — But there will always be people who fight against that process in order to conserve their own privilege. When we see this for what it is, I believe it’s possible to not let it discourage you to the point of hopelessness. My hope is that this blog reminds you of hope… even when it’s hard for me to see as well. Anyway, if you value my writing, I’d love for you to consider BECOMING A PATRON. Or if you want to leave a tip (or to boost a particular post), you can DO THAT ON PAYPAL or Venmo your generosity to “chris-boeskool”. Please also follow along on Facebook and on Twitter. I love you all.