I should be posting about my upcoming EP and book (Save the date: May 26th!), how much the material means to me, the time and effort it took to produce, and how I want it to change the world, but today, I want to tell you about my ignorance.
When I was a kid, I heard a lot of Aggie jokes. Not from my parents but from other adults around me. Jokes about how dumb the Aggies were. My parents didn't enforce this idea in any way, but my father was a U.T. fan, so Longhorns = good, Aggies = bad based on my limited understanding of the situation.
I'm not dumb, but I was ignorant about A&M for most of my youth. I had no pressing reason to seek further information until it was time to choose a college. By that time, I understood that A&M was a great university and perfect for what I wanted to study (marine biology). I even attended a Summer program at the campus in Galveston, but I couldn't bring myself to choose it. There were several factors, but mostly, it just didn't "feel" right. I went to U.T.
This is how denigration works. Jokes of ridicule and generalizations that presume something negative played repeatedly in the background seep into the subconscious. They inform our "gut feeling," our intuition, and affect how we respond to ideas, people, and the world around us.
Without personal experience or qualifying knowledge, we act according to instincts informed by the persistent messaging we receive from society, friend groups, church communities, work environments, etc. We consciously choose some influences, but most we don't, and it takes intentional effort to learn beyond that messaging.
Persistent negative messaging is how atrocities and cruelties against " different " people seem justified. That's not an exaggeration. Messaging is where it starts.
This is what led to people standing by while indigenous families were murdered for their presumed savagery, why Asian people from numerous countries became victims of hate crimes during the pandemic, and why people of color are often assumed guilty or dangerous and not regarded by some as "American" even when we are, how immigrants and refugees are labeled rapists and drug dealers, why "uncontrollable" women were burned as witches, why Muslims were feared to be terrorists and members of the LGBTQ community labeled groomers... on and on and on. This is our world's "one lesson learned on repeat."
Fear of the unknown is understandable, but it's no excuse for persecution of any group when knowledge is available.
Right now, the Texas Senate has advanced a bill to block gender-affirming care for minors.
What is gender-affirming care?
It is counseling, resources to assist with gender presentation, speech therapy, and, yes, medical interventions.
It's not just surgeries. Surgeries are rare for anyone under the age of 18. Some surgeries (usually above the belt) can happen as young as 15. Still, criteria are in place, including multiple evaluations over a required amount of time from qualified medical and mental health providers who follow guidelines supported by qualified leading healthcare organizations and informed by research. If you Google for research, you gotta at least scroll past the "sponsored" posts at the top. C'mon now.
If you think that no one under the age of 18 should have any gender-affirming care, consider a few scenarios:
A teenage boy who develops breasts
A teenage girl with a pronounced adam's apple
An infant born with both sex organs or ambiguous genitals
Surgeries and therapies will happen in these instances with apparent risks because parents who have resources and fear their child will suffer severe mental distress from bullying or become victims of hate crimes because they are assumed to be trans will seek gender-affirming care.
And puberty blockers?
For those experiencing severe emotional distress due to gender dysphoria, pausing puberty can prevent self-harm and give them time to explore options before making permanent decisions. This is a non-permanent and reversible option to help a teen experiencing gender dysphoria. And criteria must be met over time, with clearance from qualified medical providers, informed consent from the parents, and ongoing therapy and medical care.
Yes, treatments have risks. I took anxiety medication as a teenager because I could not function due to mental distress. Unfortunately, I had side effects from that medication that resulted in life-threatening self-harm. There are risks for all sorts of interventions that need to be weighed against the risks of providing no care at all. That's why decisions about the well-being of trans kids should be made by their informed families and qualified doctors, not state politicians who regularly vilify those seeking care.
And this is not just about trans kids. Other states are moving to block gender-affirming care for ALL ages and "eradicate" trans people from public life (their words). Politicians are also working to block discussion, study, acknowledgment, rights, and protection for all members of the LGBTQ community. The former president has vowed to block all gender-affirming care by executive order should he be re-elected.
Trans people exist. They are friends, neighbors, and loved ones just like anyone else. At least consider them a source of qualified information and hear them and their families out before supporting those who will strip them of life-saving and affirming support.
Have a great weekend, yall! :)
P.S. This post is not an invitation to defend your stance against gender-affirming care by private messaging me. I do not speak for the trans community. I sought information from the community and qualified medical organizations, and you can too. If you call it abuse, you call many of my friends and loved ones abusers with a profound ignorance of their situations. I have no intention of entertaining that. Unkind or disrespectful commentary may be deleted.