Sunday, June 26, 2022

Supreme Injustice Part II

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote about the Breonna Taylor trial and the rush to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, but it has been nearly two years now. The results of installing (I refuse to use the word “confirming”) two ultra-conservative justices into the high court has escalated quickly. They wasted no time, given the usually glacial flow of decisions, in overturning the most impactful verdict in recent history: Roe versus Wade. It is a clear example of collusion of between religion and government, for the purpose of strengthening a destructive patriarchal culture. Yes, I am calling this a criminal act.

What were once ”Christian fundamentalists” are now Christian extremists, an arguably greater threat to democracy and a civil society than any foreign enemy. While they claim there is a fictious “war on Christmas,” they perpetrate a very real war against women, including transgender persons. That we allow any level of the judiciary to continue defining and limiting the role of women as child-bearers, subservient to males, is appalling. That the citizenry has very limited power to influence the lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court is disgraceful.

Beyond the ramifications for women’s health, including abortion procedures, the court decision has an overwhelming effect of demoralization. Women are already physically and emotionally exhausted from meeting personal and societal expectations on the domestic front, and in the workplace, even if they are perfectly healthy and not battling chronic pain, disease, and/or other afflictions beyond their control. Where are they going to find the strength to overcome these newly-imposed limitations?

Numerous female friends have already posted on social media that they are willing to host and care for any friends from other states needing proper medical care that could be denied them in their own home states. I am hoping to soon see that same empathy from my male friends. I will happily be the first to volunteer. I’ll sleep on the couch or the floor if need be. That is assuming that we can vote down a proposed constitutional amendment here in Kansas.

The double-whammy of this court decision, and continuing efforts aimed at denying voting rights, is depressing. At least some democratic and independent voters are registering as Republican for their state’s primary elections, in hopes of defeating the most extremist candidates before the mid-term elections in November. We are going to need more innovative tactics like that if we do not wish to return to a wholly puritanical republic.

Do not underestimate your personal sphere of influence. You are intelligent and respectful and capable of advocating effectively. Be brave, and share your views with family, immediate and/or extended. Broadcast creatively through all your social media channels. Do not share the meme everyone else is sharing. Make your own. Be as compassionate as possible but as forceful as necessary. We can make this better. We owe it to ourselves, previous generations, and to those children we choose to have, not those we are forced to have.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

What Pride Month Means to Me

I have been struggling with what to say in honor of Pride Month. On the one hand, I am not lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or any other demographic that falls under the rainbow banner, and I have no right to speak for those people. What I can do is speak to why they have my unconditional love and support.

I know many people who face daily challenges of a magnitude inconceivable to those of us fortunate enough to be cis, straight, and otherwise conventional in identity and lifestyle. I have not always been sensitive to their plight. In my younger days I know I hit on women who were lesbian, probably more of them than I realized. I am grateful to those who admitted their preference, especially given the courage it took when you were in legitimate fear for your life from strangers. Sadly, this is still too often the case.

I am still learning the new vocabulary of our changing times, but I accept the challenge. It is the least I can do to be better informed, and become more empathetic. Too many people try and ride the fence when it comes to others who do not share their reality. “I don’t think it is any of my business” they say, believing that is somehow a comforting and acceptable response to learning of diversity in identity and lifestyle. It is not. It is condescending.

In no way are any of the rights and personal freedoms I enjoy eroded or compromised by extending those same rights to marginalized peoples. Let me say that again, louder, for those in the back: Extending to others the same freedoms and rights that I enjoy as a white, cis, straight male, in no way deprives me of those rights. Please repeat that to yourself at will until you recognize it as truth. Thank you.

It is appalling and embarrassing to me that so many citizens are apparently convinced that the whole topic of transgender can be boiled down to “men wanting to play women’s sports.” Have you seen how we treat women? Do you honestly believe that any “man” would want to heap upon himself the restrictions, discomfort, and vulnerabilities endured by women, plus the hatred shown to transgendered persons, simply for the opportunity to “dominate” in athletics? Seriously? I know this is not the case because nearly every man I know will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid social ridicule, persecution, and emotional pain.

What I desire more than anything is for those who are consumed with affirming, defending, and protecting their identities, to have the freedom to do the things they were born to do, to achieve greatness without the needless social and political barriers and hostilities they currently face. If there are any rights that should be taken from people of privilege it is the right to hate speech, the right to politicize lives you know nothing about, and the right to deny anyone else the freedoms you already enjoy.

What does an ally look like, you ask? Openly proclaiming your allegiance is a good start. Putting your money where your mouth is helps even more. Ever heard of The Trevor Project? There are countless other charities, legal defense funds, and other affirming organizations that can use your financial donations. Use your social media to follow those individuals and organizations that are effective advocates and educators. Unfollow, unfriend, or block anyone who reveals themselves to be anything but an ally.

If you found this post uncomfortable, but read it through anyway, you have my sincere appreciation. You’ve taken a step towards something good. I guarantee that your life will be enriched beyond measure by getting to know others living different lives, with different identities. That rainbow still includes you, too, you know?