Is America immature and paranoid?

I’ve been trying to recall when it was that the rights of transgender individuals began to be discussed more openly. Was it twelve years ago? Fifteen? Certainly it was becoming a hot issue when I wrote my novel, Educating Simon; there’s a central character in the story who’s trans.

Simon is only seventeen. And yet even he realizes that whether “transgender” makes sense to him or not is irrelevant.

Progress on trans rights?

However long we’ve been discussing the issue of transgender, it seems as though we haven’t made much progress in terms of recognizing that trans individuals know who they are better than anyone else. I like to think that the more pushback we see, the more progress we’re making. But then I remember the fifteenth episode in Season 4 of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

In the episode “First Contact,” the first officer of the starship Enterprise, Will Riker, has been posing as a resident of Malcor III. This planet is very close to discovering warp technology, and Riker is there to determine (clandestinely) whether the people are ready to know about The Federatin of Planets, or whether the Prime Directive (in which there is to be no interference with a civilization’s natural development) should remain in force.

A lot happens that isn’t directly related to my point (though it’s kind of fun to mention that Bebe Neuwirth plays a Malcorian who’s determined to have sex with Will once she discovers his alien status). But through plot twists and turns, Malcor’s Space Administrator, Mirasta Yale, finds out about The Federation and all its marvelous technology, and she pushes Malcor’s Chancellor Durken to move forward with all haste into this brave new world.

Is paranoid the same as safe?

person hiding under couch cushions

Enter Security Minister Krola, who is nearly paranoid in his suspicion of these aliens and their intentions. Desperate to thwart Yale and dissuade Durken from changing the status quo, he is willing to die. He goes so far as to manipulate Will Riker’s weapon to shoot himself (Will has it on “stun” setting, but Krola doesn’t know this), in a way that makes it appear that Will has shot him. Durken, seeing how far Krola was willing to go to keep Marlcor’s people “safe,” regretfully turns down the offer of technological advancement. He sees that his people are not ready for change. They are not mature enough to hear that they are not alone in the universe.

In “First Contact,” paranoia wins. Riker returns to the Enterprise, and they leave Malcor III in its ignorance.

I’ve been reading posts by Erin Reed (Erin In the Morning). Erin posts news and discussion on trans legislation. I encourage you to check out Erin’s site; just reading the headlines should give you pause. Here are just a couple of quotes.

  1. From October 18, 2023: “Over 540 laws were proposed targeting LGBTQ+ people, with most of them targeting trans people. Many of them passed.”

  2. From October 27, 2023: “Francis Howell School District in Missouri held a hearing on a policy that would ban trans students from bathrooms of their gender identity as well as litter boxes, despite those boxes being a hoax.”

That second one stopped me in my tracks. Not only would the policy severely limit the rights of trans students, but also it contains that absurd stipulation concerning the presence of litter boxes in bathrooms which is, as Reed puts it: …”a baseless rumor circulated by several far-right anti-trans websites that has been proven to be a hoax.”

Litter boxes? Are you friggin' kidding me with this?

The good citizens of Francis Howell School District were clearly taking this seriously. They were going to vote on this policy in November, though I believe it has since been tabled so that more “research” can be done. Maybe they weren’t quite willing to lose their lives to make their point. But they’re definitely losing their minds.

Anti-trans bathroom bills: Fear and paranoia in action

I was appalled when, in 2016, North Carolina’s governor signed into law HB2, limiting queer rights in general and specifically limiting bathroom use by trans individuals. That’s the bad news. Well, that, and the fact that he and his family received a lot of pushback, including death threats (which I don’t recommend, but as I told him in an open letter I wrote to him, that’s just one more thing he has in common with the people he ruled against).

The good news is that HB2 was repealed. The (yet more) bad news is that making policy against trans individuals seemed like such a good idea to immature, paranoid individuals that it spread to many other states.

Erin Reed recently published a post about the legislation on track for 2024. It gives the impression that there are lots and lots of Minister Krolas out there.

Let’s do everything we can to avoid the same fate as Malcor III. Let’s not hide our heads in the sand and pretend that the status quo, as it has been until this century, is the way it must be for all time. Each of us needs to acknowledge that we are not the center of the universe. There are other ways of being that are equally valid.

I won’t try to bring you news about the progress of trans rights; Erin Reed does a much better job than I could. But what I will say is this: AMERICA, GROW UP!