The world is very frightening right now for a lot of reasons, but the war in Ukraine is incredibly scary. The tension reminds me of the early days of the war in Afghanistan in 2003. Like any military conflict, there is, just like there is today, a lot of activism and people protesting what is happening.
And yes, this is one of THOSE posts.
Humans will always disagree with each other. It seems there are few things everyone in a community, a country, will all agree on. For every person protesting a war, there will always be someone who supports it.
Let me be clear that I am not here to change anyone’s mind.
As the war in Afghanistan begun, anti-war sentiment was very strong (and yes, I know that pro-war sentiment was also strong) and people were very vocal about their opinions.
At the time, one of the most popular bands in the country was Dixie Chicks. In March of 2003 one of their members voiced their opinion about the current president and it didn’t take long for her words to ignite a firestorm of criticism against them.
Radio stations stopped playing their music, they were called anti-American, traitors, and received death threats.
The band was effectively canceled.
This is a good time to ask that the comments section is kept constructive. This post is not meant to generate a conversation about whether or not these attacks and actions were acceptable but I hope we can all agree that death threats are never, ever justified.
The band received a very specific threat right before a concert that stated they should “shut up and sing” or they would be shot. The message was clear: stay in your lane. No politics, no anti-war talk, just stick to singing.
Although I have never gotten a death threat I do get emails telling me I should keep to talking about lingerie and stop talking politics. I am, in effect, being asked to shut up and sing.
Look, I don’t like taking politics either. But the reality is that the trans community is being attacked. We deserve to be safe, we deserve to feel safe. This isn’t limited to feeling safe when we go to the mall en femme, it also extends to being able to simply exist.
I get emails asking me when it will be “okay” to be trans, to be a crossdresser, for a man to wear a skirt. I am asked when it will be acceptable (or at least, not controversial) to dress however one wishes. The truth is that I don’t think it will ever be okay for a guy to wear a dress. I am not being pessimistic (well, maybe I am) but my perspective is fueled by laws that are designed (though they may not specifically state this) to negatively impact the non-cis gender community.
Legislation against the LGBTQIA+ community is nothing new, although there is a LOT of it right now. Many of these laws target people under the age of 18. The recent legislation in Florida is, more or less, an attempt to limit any discussing LGBTQIA+ topics in school. The bill, in its own words, says “a Florida school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”
I think “encourage” is vague here, but that might be intentional.
Some think, or hope, that laws like this are isolated, but the reality is that this creates precedent. If one state does something, it won’t take long for another state to follow. Texas is proposing something along the Florida legislation as well, but taking things into a more frightening direction. The proposal, as it is written states that providing gender-affirming medical care to minors is considered child abuse under state law.
There are also pushes laws (some of them have already passed) all over the country that seek to prevent trans youth from participating on sport teams that align with their gender identity.
And yes, I know that there is the flimsy argument that someone who is genetically male has a physical advantage over a cis girl. If you’re going to use that reasoning, then by that logic tall people should be prohibited from basketball because they have a physical advantage over a shorter person.
But logic is rarely considered when it comes to anti-LGBTQIA+ thinking.
Again, this post is not meant to be a discussion of these types of laws, and is not meant to inspire a political flame war in the comments. Ya’ll know where I stand but if it helps I’ve never felt that Democrats do everything right and I am not a fan of Biden, either.
Instead, I want to chat about something that many supporters of laws like these insist on. The argument I hear a lot is that people under the age of 18 don’t know what they want or who they are. That’s just silly and wrong. On a side note, it seems that the people who have this perspective are all cis gender and heterosexual. Ask almost member of the LGBTQIA+ community and I imagine that almost every single person will tell you that they knew who they were at a young age.
Of course, I didn’t know I was transgender. I didn’t even know that word when I was ten years old and trying on my sister’s dresses.
Although I never thought I was doing something “wrong” and I never was confused about who I was, I certainly felt alone. I wish I was taught about gender while I was growing up, especially about how gender isn’t binary.
And yes, I grew up in a different era. There are more resources and more progressive thinking today when it comes to gender than there was forty (God I’m old) years ago.
Gender identity can change, especially with age and experience. Sometimes what we want at one point in our life will change at a different point in our lives. Yes, I wanted to wear dresses when I was ten, but that didn’t mean that HRT would have been the right path. For me it wouldn’t have been right then, and it isn’t the right decision for me now.
I would not have been, well, qualified to make any sort of decision about my body at that age. That’s where doctors and counseling and support become essential.
In the year 2022, if a parent knows their son is trying on dresses, there are resources for the parent as well as for their kid. It doesn’t mean that their son will go on t-blockers the next day. No. What it means is that a parent can talk to their son about how gender and clothes aren’t binary and if appropriate, find support, not only for their son but for themselves as well.
Talking about LGBTQIA+ issues in school helps create awareness and tolerance as well. I was terrified (and still am) of being outted when I was younger, but it would have been really comforting to have been told at such a young age that I was more normal than I imagined. That gender was more complex than just boy OR girl. That wanting to be beautiful had nothing to do with sexuality.
Telling a kid, or ANYONE that who they are, who they love, what they wear is wrong is damaging. Not letting a kid even talk about their identity is also harmful. Although they are not being explicitly told that it’s “wrong”, being told that even discussing is taboo is also damaging.
Some laws are also requiring schools to tell parents if they learn that their child is anything other than straight or cis. EVERYONE, especially kids, need to have someone in their lives that they can confide in. Whether that is a teacher, a friend, a relative, or a school counselor.
And yes, I understand that parents need to be informed about certain things, particularly if their child is at risk, but gender identity in it of itself isn’t harmful… unless one is being told that they can’t discuss it.
I feel it’s only a matter of time (and that time seems to be accelerating at an alarming speed) until anyone who is trans, at any age, in any state, will be faced with some sort of legislation. I have a lot of trans friends. A lot of my friends are like myself and have no plans to transition. Their gender identity is a secret. It’s not unrealistic to imagine a state deciding that people like my friends are unfit to be parents, that the parent’s gender identity can be considered abusive to their kids. Some of you may be thinking that I am being paranoid or an alarmist. I hope I am.
I wish I had been told it wasn’t wrong to wear dresses when I was young. I wish there were support group for people like myself when I was in high school. I wish there were always resources and help for non-binary people like myself. I wish I had always knows I wasn’t alone.
I knew who I was when I was ten. So do these kids.
Protect trans kids.
15 thoughts on “Shut Up And Sing”
Like always, a very well written and thoughtful commentary. We are very lucky to have you as a voice for our community.
At four, i loved wearing my moms shoes around.
At five, I wanted to play with girls in kindergarten. I couldn’t.
In grade school I watched the girls jump rope or fix each other’s hair or painting their nails and wanted that so bad. I couldn’t.
At eleven my sister was born and I just loved taken care of her pretending to be a mother. We are still very close.
In junior high, I babysat my 2 little cousins twice a week, just like a teenage girl would. I looked forward to this so so much.
In high school, I remember waiting to go out on the basketball court while watching the cheerleaders. Wishing so badly I was one of them.
After high school I wanted to get married and have kids so so bad.
I always knew I was meant to be a girl. Society just didn’t see it the same way.
I hope from the bottom of my heart that someday our society will let the littles grow up the way the need to instead of the way we want them to.
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YES! Protect trans kids! Yes, it would have been great for us baby boomers to have had support and understanding as we went through and experienced our confusing gender dysphoria alone as children (and developed loads of shame as a result). Yes, we knew early that we were not like the other boys, that yearning to be female has been with me as long as I can remember. Nancy
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There is such a fine line when decided what age is appropriate to teach kids about certain differences in kids who don’t fit into to girl or boy.
I’m not sure I know the right answer
What I do know is it’s never right to essentially attack kids or parents who have trans kids by law or decrees
I’m about loving kids and making them feel wanted and not shunned
Like you say these kids are still growing and learning about themselves and should not be labeled or put in some box
Thanks for speaking up on this
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If you go on YouTube and see what there is there, there are many trans people who have detransitioned! There are adults who decided to change back, so just imagine the possibility that a young child is mistaken and will regret changing at a young age! So: 1. Not a good idea to discuss sexual matters at the elementary level for children – this is why they have parents who can properly teach their children and why sex education is not taught to the very young at schools and should not be. 2. Should ball players be allowed to use steroids?? Of course not! This is cheating and unfair to those who want to play any sport fairly. Allowing trans women, who are possibly not at the acceptable range of testosterone level, to play against women, is not right for the women and is unfair competition. Just look at that swimmer to see the damage that is being perpetrated on that women’s sport! Just imagine if the Minnesota Twins played against the 1998-2001 Yankees team, that was juiced up on steroids, in the play-offs – unfair as can be!
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I am not sure you tube is the best source. You may want to read and article in Psychology Today by Jack Turban. He summarizes 16 studies on the impacts of gender care in youths.
Also research the rates on detransitioning. It appears only about 3% to 5% detransition. And most of those are because of societal pressure. Then compare that to the suicide in transgender youths.
I see your point in sports but I believe this is a small issue that is blown out of proportion. I am not the best judge because I have become disillusioned by athletes and believe youth sports are completely out of control. Again I believe fair competition pales in relation to transgender youth suicide rates.
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I’m not sure what motivates part of your readership to demand you only speak about panties and lingerie.
Trans women, as women in general are not air heads. Congratulations Hannah on realising that and speaking up on things that are important to you and us.
May I explain the idea of a FIGLEAF?
A FIGLEAF is something we put on to protect ourselves from even our own sense of shame. For example, if I’m rich and uncaring of those who are impoverished, I can present it as being successful from my own hard work and to support others would be to discourage their development as fellow human beings. Thankyou FIGLEAF!
I’m sure this is what happens with debates over trans kids. I want only the best for all children and don’t want anyone led astray, is something I can live with, and also sounds wholesome and even noble, whereas the more honest assessment, that I am terrified of gender debates and that the whole of society is going to hell in a pink hand basket, embarrasses me.
It makes genuine discussion fraught.
Unless we can assure everyone that it is safe to remove our figleaves and there will be no gotcha moments.
This makes me wish there were “love” buttons for WordPress posts instead of “like” buttons. I truly empathize with those now feeling demeaned and denigrated for even considering that they might identify as trans in one way or another. At least today they, and their parents, have access to information and advice and support networks that we never had way back when. I can’t help but think that if my mom had such avenues way back then, she perhaps would’ve been at least more tolerant of my crossdressing.
I am also truly fearful of the legislative moves against the trans community. Instead of celebrating when these laws are proposed or enacted, or even being gleeful when a trans person de-transitions or is prevented from competing in sports (as that troll appears to be doing in this comment section), I hope we can all appreciate trans people — and LGBT+ people as a whole — as the human beings they are, with their own thoughts and talents. I mean, is respect too much to ask?
Hi Amy, I have read your post on this topic and you make some logical points. But may I suggest that your solution, which is to dismiss the need of some, only some, young people to question their gender and then maybe take steps to intervene in their natural development, is not fully thought through.
Were it you in that predicament, I hope I would offer you the opportunity to access the psychological and medical advice you might need to best decide your future.
I wish the world was neat and simple.
Human beings are commonly required to play God. Children are born with terrible deformaties.
What do we do?
Children are born intersex.
What do we do?
The answers are not easy but we humans of good will make the best choices we can. We try and make the best of what looks to be a bad lot. And we support the person involved and their supporting family.
And yes there maybe downstream consequences. We might have to put up with the sight of someone in a wheelchair or put up with the thought that someone on the train with you is intersex or trans or blind or deaf or whatever. I hope if it was you on that train I would be courageous enough to accept you as you were.
Get this much right then let’s work out together, how to make sport fair for us all.
This is difficult and I am not dismissing your sincere opinion.
I really try to avoid politically loaded topics, but my Lord, surely we can honestly acknowledge the very real threats to transgender people. One can fairly ask, why some states are enacting legislation to punish such a small minority, merely for existing? Why punish a few parents for seeking out life saving and life enhancing medical help for their children? Why are these legislatures and governors so afraid of even acknowledging the existence of certain minority groups, while seeking to deny even basic rights?
My own view is that the politicians pushing these ideas really don’t care. They are pushing hot buttons simply for the purpose of keeping people angry and distracted, because gry and distracted people do not think.
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Hi Hannah, just checking that everything is OK.