Devin O'Hara. Courtesy photo
Photo: Mark Gjukich
Poppy at the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, USA on March 14, 2019.
Pride March, New York. Photo: Nicholas Blaire
Another day, another mass shooting in the United States. Actually, that’s being optimistic as there have been more mass shootings than there have been days in 2023 so far.
That’s a lot. And no other country — aside from countries at literal war — even comes close. This is a uniquely American problem. And, unfortunately, it’s been met by and large with a collective shrug from our elected leaders, specifically Republicans. There are lots of Democrats who say they are ready to act. Finally.
But at the federal level, with Republicans in control of the U.S. House, chances of anything happening there are slim to none. So it’s going to be up to states with Democratic majorities to pass gun violence prevention legislation. States like California and Michigan are ones to watch on this issue.
Unfortunately, Republican majority states remain focused on transgender people. A cruel obsession with an end goal of erasing transgender people completely.
Take Kansas, for example. The legislature just passed a law that prohibits transgender people “from using bathrooms that align with their gender identities and preventing them from changing their names or genders on driver's licenses,” according to USA Today. It would also “define ‘sex’ as ‘either male or female, at birth,’ in state law and require that government statisticians count people based on their sex assigned at birth and would prevent public documents, including birth certificates, from being changed to reflect a person's gender identity.”
And that’s not all. “The Kansas measure includes prisons, rape and domestic violence centers and shelters, and other spaces where ‘biology, safety or privacy’ require separate facilities,” according to USA Today.
This leaves transgender people facing violence with nowhere to go and puts transgender people in prison at great risk. This is going to cost lives.
The good news? Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, will veto the law.
"I will continue to stand up for you, protect your rights and call out and condemn any speech or behavior or veto any bill that aims to harm or discriminate against you," Kelly said at a rally last week hosted by Equality Kansas at the Statehouse according to USA Today.
The bad news? Two Democrats voted for the bill (What the actual fuck?) giving Kansas Republicans a veto-proof majority. So Gov. Kelly’s veto doesn’t really matter. And more bad news: this law is only one of many anti-trans laws working their way through the legislature.
Speaking in favor of the bill on the house floor Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, said, “What is the rights of a woman? You are saying I have no more rights. I cannot go into a woman’s bathroom and know that a male will not walk into that bathroom. What about my rights? What about my comfort zone? What about my granddaughters, what about their rights?”
Transgender people existing in the world doesn’t take away “the rights of a woman.” That’s the job of Republicans. Seriously. Landwehr’s comments are pretty rich coming from a woman whose party is hellbent on slashing reproductive rights across the country. So, yeah, what about your granddaughters, Rep. Landwehr? What about their rights?
Speaking of the rights of young people, the U.S. Supreme Court just ruled on a case literally challenging the right of ONE little girl to run track in West Virginia: 12-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson.
West Virginia has a ban on transgender athletes “playing on female sports teams from middle school through college.” According to The Washington Post, “The law has largely been on hold since its passage, and an appeals court is reviewing its constitutionality.”
So what did the U.S. Supreme Court say? They refused to “immediately reinstate” West Virginia’s transgender athlete ban, the Post reports.
So they ruled in favor of little Becky! Well, sort of.
The ruling “means a lower court’s order putting a hold on the law remains in place while the legal battles continue, but it is not a decision on the merits of the case,” the Post reports.
In other words, this isn’t over.
According to the Post, “Becky, who has presented as a girl since fourth grade and whose name has been legally changed, is the only transgender athlete in the state known to be affected.”
I hope that Becky and her family have good therapists and a strong support system, because I cannot imagine what it must be like for them to have Becky’s very existence debated at the highest court in the land.
And for what? This isn’t about protecting women. This is about hurting transgender people, especially kids. Becky, may you run all the runs or jump all the jumps or whatever kids do on a track team, haters be damned.