by Michelle Fox-Phillips
Last month, Rep. Paul Scott announced his candidacy for the office of Secretary of State. On his Web site, Rep. Scott stated that he would ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance. As the executive director of Transgender Detroit I cannot just sit back and let him make our community a wedge issue.
Shame on you, Paul Scott, for making the transgender community a scapegoat for your candidacy.
You see, Rep. Scott, gender is defined as what is between the ears and not between person’s legs. But in Michigan, having your gender changed on your driver’s license is only possible after surgical transition. So even if you want to use the definition of what is between the legs, then use it, and maybe move on to something more important like ideas about how to get people back to work.
Another question is what do you intend to do with people who are born intersexed? Since you are going to use the age-old argument about males using females bathrooms – an argument with no backbone – I guess maybe you had better make it so intersexed people have their own bathrooms in public places. Or have you not thought about people born intersexed, since nobody else has brought it up?
Mr. Scott, as you already know, without proper identification it is impossible to work and obtain a place of residence. So you are suggesting that instead of being who we are, it is better to be who we are without a job and a place to live.
Have you ever been homeless Mr. Scott?
If I walk into a job and my identification does not match who I am, will I get that job? Will I get that place to live? That is one reason why your policy and thinking needs to be changed. Your reasoning leads to the idea that instead of having productive, tax paying transgender people in your state, you will have unproductive, non-tax paying members living on the streets. All we want in the transgender community is to be productive Michigan citizens; citizens who pay taxes, work and live a law abiding life. In our current economic times, I don’t think the state would be very happy if instead of being productive citizens of the state we become a drain on the state due to what would be our rising unemployment rates.
Every week I run a support group, and you should hear some of the stories shared about not being able to find work because their gender marker on their ID does not match who they are. The state right now requires that someone has gender reassignment surgery to be able to change their gender marker. Many people, because they are unemployed or under employed, cannot afford to have this surgery. Many more may not be able to have the surgery because of health reasons, such was the case for my late wife. Maybe it would time better spent to help more people become employed than it would be to guarantee more unemployment.
This is not a bathroom or a social or moral issue. Where laws have been enacted to protect the transgender community, there have not been any instances of a sexual predator harassing any women or children in the restroom. You have fallen for the lie that people talk about and use to scare people into believing that we are predators.
Let me ask you this: Have you, or has anyone you know, been attacked by a transgender person in a public restroom? Why don’t you inquire about it, and get back to me. I have always been under the assumption that it is best to learn something for yourself than to just believe ignorance. As a politician, I would hope that this type of research comes natural to you. Or do you just believe everything you hear?
In the end, Michigan has much more serious and real issues to worry about. Michigan is in dire straits with the highest unemployment rates in the nation, and unemployment benefits about to run out for thousands of its citizens this year.
Mr. Scott, I am not attacking you, I am only defending my community by attacks that are made to us by people who think the way you do. So understand that this letter is in defense – not to attack. I invite you to come and visit our support group and ask questions. Get an education about our community, learn about who we are and then decide for yourself. We meet every Tuesday and our doors are always open to you. I look forward to having open and honest discussion with you.
Feel free to contact me at 248-514-2688 to have an honest discussion about the transgender community.