Your Elected Officials are Letting you Down
If you’re not up to date with all the happenings in Bismarck this past month, I honestly don’t blame you. With hundreds of pieces of legislation being introduced, some being passed in the middle of the night, and far too many buzzwords, it’s become a major headache to follow.
However, the pieces of legislation that you’ve likely heard the most discourse about are the many proposed bills that are undeniably discriminatory towards the LGBTQIA+ community, specifically towards Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming people. Not only are these bills in violation of individual freedoms, but they are also a marker of how frivolous and unconstitutional the culture wars against LGBTQIA+ people have become. But why have Transgender people become such a popular target?
I want to make this point unwaveringly clear: Transgender and other queer people are in no way a danger to society, children, or yourself. Believing so is hyperbolic, illogical, and blatant bigotry. LGBTQIA+ people are simply that: People. They are trying to live their authentic lives, yet in the year 2023, we are still constantly having our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness encroached upon because of some asinine culture wars.
Instead of creating meaningful policy to help the wellbeing of North Dakotans, such as raising the minimum wage or allocating more funding to public schools, we have legislators introducing bills that attempt to clumsily define what “preferred pronouns” and “gender identity” are. These same legislators also can’t be bothered to explain how to plausibly enforce any of these bills, some of which are so screamingly unconstitutional that I honestly must wonder if any of these people even passed high school civics.
But why target trans people? Well, throughout history, lying, fear mongering, and intentional “othering” of a marginalized group has always made good politics. Supporters of these types of policies regurgitate the same arguments with little variation: It’s to protect children from sexual imagery in books! It’s so kids can’t destroy their bodies with hormones! It’s to make sure women’s sports are fair! It’s because trans people are predatory!
First, trying to censor trans and queer people out of existence is a fruitless effort in the age of social media. iPad kids can and do access far worse content than a book discussing gender identity on the devices their parents pay for. If anything, not allowing access to media about queer identities legally in the safety of a library is riskier when it comes to a kid’s mental wellbeing. As for hormone therapy and puberty blockers, banning them does absolutely nothing to protect children.
For a young person to get puberty blockers, they first must get their parents to agree to it (considering that many trans youths never even come out to their parents and even face prejudice from them, this is already a very large step), find a physician who is willing to help them, go to multiple doctor visits and physicals, attend therapy appointments, sign multiple waivers, and are heavily monitored after getting on treatment.
According to Mayo Clinic, the side effects of puberty blockers are injection site swelling, weight gain, hot flashes, and headaches; I get the latter three symptoms from my birth control pill, but I wouldn’t consider myself “damaged.” The noted long-term effects include growth spurts, effects on bone growth and density, and effects on future fertility.
Again, similar symptoms to my generic birth control. These side effects are nowhere near the level of drama politicians are playing them up to be. After starting puberty blockers, it takes years for other forms of transitioning such as hormones to be recommended, and no surgery will be done until after the patient turns eighteen. If a kid who is questioning their gender around the time of puberty onset begins taking inhibitors, and decides a few years later to stop taking them, they will resume puberty as normal.
No children are being “mutilated,” and taking away the choice for trans youth to get affirming care is a dangerous game considering the rates of suicide of trans youth due to struggles with gender dysphoria. Friends of mine who have begun transitioning as adults have spoken about how gender dysphoria made them miserable and even suicidal for years, and that the ability to transition has saved their lives. Every reputable expert and institute discussing this subject says that puberty blockers are safe, but why should we listen to boring doctors when we could watch Fox News instead?
As for women’s sports, put simply, if trans kids annihilating cisgender girls in competitions were a problem, we would see it consistently happening over the years and in the present. We don’t see it happening because this problem does not exist; all the top athletes for women’s and girl’s sports are cisgender, as has been the case for years.
In addition, assuming that women stand no chance against the physical strength of a male body is demeaning to all the amazing women in sports I know personally that could absolutely wipe out a man in competition. It is my personal opinion that sports should not be separated by gender, and should instead focus on ability, weight class, etc.
Furthermore, if a person should be eliminated from competition due to a “biological advantage,” then shouldn’t Michael Phelps have all his medals revoked for his above average lung capacity, which could be considered “unfair” to his competition?
Finally, framing trans people as a looming threat to children is disingenuous and bigoted. As with the sports non-issue, if trans people were a threat to children, we would see statistics and testimony over the course of years to support it, but we don’t have any evidence to confirm that trans people are dangerous because it doesn’t exist. As disgusting as it is, you’re statistically more likely to find a sex offender in a church then at a drag show.
So, why do so many Republican politicians claim that America needs to be protected against the trans community? Because the young LGBTQIA+ community has been the most progressive generation we have ever witnessed and has been steadily overturning the “traditional” values that are the basis for Republican talking points. It’s fair to say much of the younger generation, queer or not, has no patience for ignorance and intolerance.
However, if there’s one thing the GOP does well, it’s leech off ignorance and the anxiety that comes from massive cultural changes. The Boomer and GenX generations have been publicly intolerant of queer people since the 2010’s when the movement really took off in the mainstream, and what better way to retain their votes than by further scaring older people about a topic they already know nothing about?
It’s a hit on the people they view as the enemy; trying to wipe out the demographic that poses the greatest threat to their power by trying to censor them out of existence and force them back into obscurity is the only way they can stay in office.
At the end of the day, all they want is power. They want the authority and status that comes with being a public servant without having to actually be a public servant. Though this trait is not unique to Republicans, they are currently the most obvious offenders as evidenced by their overtly prejudiced, hysterical, and half-baked legislative proposals.
If the 2022 midterms were any indication, Republican’s popularity is going downhill faster than the stability of the GOP itself. So, while catering to an ignorant and prejudiced voter base may be working now, it will not last forever. The LGBTQIA+ community’s basic civil liberties are being attacked in the United States, but if you think we will slump away and back into the shadows, you have another thing coming. You’re not getting rid of us; you’re making us angry.
If you couldn’t tell, it deeply angers me that this is the state of politics in 2023. In 2021, North Dakota lawmakers shot down a bill that would have capped the price of insulin in the state, but currently they want to pass a bill to “protect” anyone under eighteen years old from seeing a drag show.
The minimum wage in the state is still $7.25, but lawmakers are worried about people using the pronoun that best aligns with their gender identity. It is an insult to the people of North Dakota that they are wasting our tax dollars deciding if a trans kid should be able to use the bathroom at school. My hope is that every politician who promotes this foolishness will be kissing their position goodbye come the next election.