More hate mail arrived last week. Not volumes of it, but enough to force me to scan my inbox for unfamiliar names. When the negative mail increases, I usually go online to see what is happening. A few weeks ago, it was a controversy about my book being on display in a Mississippi library. This past week it was a right-wing media article.
I spoke on International Women’s Day to the employees of the Owens Corning Company. I loved my interaction with the people who set up the virtual event. I thoroughly enjoyed crafting and presenting my keynote. As usual, I left 25 minutes for questions and answers. The talk was not recorded.
During the Q&A I answered one question by mentioning the source of much of the opposition to the civil rights of transgender children. I said that contrary to popular opinion, according to an NPR/Marist poll, the opposition to trans kids is not coming from Trump voters, 61 percent of whom believe transgender people should have the same civil rights as others. Some of the greatest opposition is coming from evangelicals. A Pew Research Center study found that 84 percent of white evangelicals believe gender is immutably determined at birth. Over 60 percent believe society has gone too far in accommodating transgender people, yet only 25 percent know someone who is out as a transgender person.
A few days after my time at Owens Corning, I was greeted by a headline in a right-wing media source that reflected negatively on Owens Corning and misstated my comments. Apparently, a company employee or someone connected to an employee had taken issue with what I said and instead of reaching out to me, reported it inaccurately to a news outlet.
I am accustomed to being attacked by the right-wing media. But I hated that a company brave and bold enough to invite me to speak on gender inequity was also attacked. The attack was unfair to the Owens Corning Company and its employees.
I know what I said in my talk last Tuesday. I know the vulnerability and heart I showed in that presentation. I saw the supportive comments pouring in from employees. I know what those who put together the conference said after I finished. I am profoundly disappointed that a single person could choose to take such a wonderful experience and turn it into a right-wing news story. Since 2016, that has happened more and more frequently. But the biggest problem is not the occasional attacks targeting people like me. The biggest problem is the attacks on our children.
I have been doing an increasing number of interviews about the awful anti-transgender laws in Texas, and the equally offensive laws passed in other states and pending in scores more. Virtually all these laws target transgender children, their parents, and healthcare providers. The good people at Owens Corning will be fine. So will I. We have the resources to dismiss spurious attacks without losing much sleep. But the children and their families? I am really concerned about them.
We already have families who have reached out to Left Hand Church, telling us they are leaving conservative states and moving to Colorado, where they can be a part of a society that supports transgender children and their families. We welcome them at Left Hand, where we show them support and love.
Transgender families in Texas are in danger. Vulnerable children are at great risk. Trans kids already have a suicide rate 13 times higher than their peers. My heart aches for these children, their families, and their medical providers.
The parents of these transgender children, desperate to nurture and protect their loved ones, are beside themselves. This past week I talked with one mother for over an hour. I don’t know that I brought her the tiniest bit of comfort, other than providing a listening ear. After the conversation I said aloud in my living room, “My God people, have a heart.” I spent most of my life among evangelicals. I cannot believe that they are willing to attack vulnerable families and courageous healthcare providers just so they can win the culture wars. But as Scott Peck said a few decades ago, “Ninety-nine percent of the evil done in the world is done by people who are 100 percent convinced they are right.”
Who decided transgender people should be on the front lines of this ridiculous culture war? We are only .58 percent of the population, about one in every 200 people. None of us chose to be transgender. Who decided we should be attacked just for being who we are, and then decided that it wasn’t trans adults they should attack, but trans children and their parents? And who decided that healthcare providers who have studied diligently and worked tirelessly to keep us alive should be vilified and even prosecuted simply for ameliorating our suffering in the world?
I am frightened. Given what is happening in Texas and other states, it appears I should be frightened. I am grateful for companies like Owens Corning, that welcome me into their space to talk about gender inequity and transgender rights. It is a reminder that the majority of Americans are supportive of our community.
My plea to evangelical Christians opposed to transgender rights is simple. For God’s sake, have a heart. Children are dying.
And so it tragically goes.