In the ever-horrifying landscape of Late Capitalist America, I am not surprised that every day new dystopias ram their ugly heads into our freedoms. It is part and parcel of living in an age of decaying capitalism. However, the recent news out of Ohio– as well as Delaware– should be of concern to anyone who values personal autonomy.
In case you haven’t heard, the bill in question is 658, a piece of legislation that would require, by law, for all healthcare professionals and teachers to “out” any student to their parents if they expressed Gender Dysphoria.
ABC News reports that the bill that:
‘If a government agent or entity has knowledge that a child under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner opposite of the child’s biological sex, the government agent or entity with knowledge of that circumstance shall immediately notify, in writing, each of the child’s parents and the child’s guardian or custodian,’ the legislation states.
Failure to comply with the law could possibly result in a felony while a felony in the fourth degree is the consequence for a minor being provided with dysphoria treatment.
Meanwhile, as FOX reports, in Delaware, a similar bill can be seen, one that originally was
an anti-discrimination policy meant to protect trans students [but] has been twisted by Republicans to, like the attempts in Ohio, force them [students] out to their parents. This despite the fact that the state has a Democratic governor and secretary of education.
The Delaware Department of Education succumbed to pressure and rewrote the policy, requiring teachers and school administrators to notify parents before recognizing a transgender student’s gender identity.
What do these bills mean?
A whole lot of nonsense. Firstly, though, it means that the conservative movement is doubling down on its reactionary Identity Politics; by invoking the idea of “Parents Rights,” the congressmen who introduced this bill are trying to ape the “Free Speech” and “All Lives Matter” brand of regressive platitudes. By offering a poor man’s simulacra of Civil Rights, the radical Right aims to cloak their tyranny the same way that they always do– in a Big Brother-esque apparatus where freedom is un-freedom. It is the same old story we have been force fed since the first Right Libertarian crawled out of 4Chan with a fedora and a swastika.
Regardless of whether or not they pass in their current form– of which I am hopeful that they will not become law– the fact is that these bills are depressingly common. All’s one has to do is google “transphobic bills” to read stories from 2016 and earlier which speak of outing Trans youth to their parents. Even if Trump’s lackeys fail in their effort this time, one can rest assured that they will try again.
What these bills ultimately mean is that the Democratic Party is incapable of protecting vulnerable populations. The introduction of so many reactionary bills throughout 2018 also means that hetero-supremacist ideology is developing in tandem with White Nationalism. The fact that the same groups behind these bills are also behind bills that, in general, support the fascistifying Republican party, indicate another step in social polarization.
Outside of politics, though, I want to stress just how vile bills like the ones being considered in Ohio and Delaware are.
Not too long ago, I finished reading One Teacher in 10: Gay and Lesbian Educators Tell Their Stories. One of the things that I didn’t bring up in that review was how many of the Gay and Lesbian teachers regretted not supporting the students they thought were Queer before they, as educators, came out of the closet. So many of the contributors to that book spoke of the shame they felt when talked about wanting to support a possibly Queer kid but didn’t want to risk outing themselves; so many spoke of how after they came out their relationship with their students has never been better and how awesome it felt to finally be able to be there for students questioning their sexual orientation and identity.
These teachers often came out to be strong for their students. Coming out and providing a responsible, mature Queer figure gave them and their students hope. These bills would silence that hope.
Aside from the fact that such bills are another exercise in conservative logical fallacies– getting Big Government off your back by making big government even bigger and stronger– the social purpose of these bills is an attempt to roll back the clock on Queer rights and visibility. These bills only exist to divide youth from supportive figures and the result of this division will be death; Queer kids who could have otherwise had a supportive teacher to confide in now would lack that center of support– this means death!
Transgender youth already have an alarmingly high-suicide statistics even compared to their Gay and Lesbian peers (who, in turns, have an alarmingly high suicide rate when compared to their heterosexual peers). What will happen under these bills is cause the suicide rate to skyrocket and teachers to quit (both situations are something which society and the school system can not afford to bear). The net result of these bills would be a less free, more restrictive, fear-based society. Not only is such a future unacceptable but given the circumstance of late, would only to further serve the slide to civil conflict.
It is the responsibility of everyone who is a decent human being to oppose these bills. I feel strongly about this and is why I will go on record by saying that, upon graduation, I, as a cisgender ally, will not teach in any state where such bills exist. For those who currently live in such states where bills like these may be introduced and (unfortunately passed), I will ask to resist in whatever way you can should such a dark future come to pass.
Big declarations aside, as well as what we can do to resist such bills, we will have to wait for the future to see if these reactionary measures are implemented. Until then, stay strong.