Adolf Hitler, anti-transgender laws, Arkansas, assault, biased studies, Brynn Tannehill, Charlize Veritas, Christianity, Deuteronomy 19, disfigurement, false accusations, Family Research Council, fringe of society, Huff Post, humor, in the closet, injustice, innocence, Jacie Leopold, James Dobson, lies, marginalized, Martin Niemöller, military officer, misreprentation, Nazism, parental support, Paul McHugh, pilot, research study, scientist, South Dakota, stock broker, stories, successful transition, tax preparer, Transgender, transgender children, U of Washington, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Navy, violence, vulnerable, Wall Street, writer
I am no longer a stock broker, but I am still part of the financial world as a professional tax preparer. Since this is my busy season and the Lord has been blessing me with an unusually large group of new clients (with complicated tax situations) early in the season, I am relying on two guest contributors to flesh out my postings. But I will still be the one who ties them together.
Having been a stock broker for 20 years, I heard many of the stories and sayings of Wall Street. One of those stories is about a man who had recently attained considerable wealth. He went to Wall Street to meet with the most prestigious financial planners to choose which one would manage his wealth. At one of these meetings, held high above the city’s financial district, the planner brought the wealthy man to one of the large windows in the conference room overlooking the river. Thinking it would impress his prospective client, he made a grand gesture towards certain boats on the water’s edge and said, “Those are the brokers’ yachts!”
The wealthy man had a different idea of what was important. “Where are the investors’ yachts?” he wanted to know.
The two stories I am sharing look at two major ways that transgender people are attacked in the United States (and in many parts of the world). The first talks about physical attacks of violence that injure, disfigure and sometimes murder the victim. The hateful perpetrators of this violence use fists, blunt objects, knives, guns, and a variety of other methods to carry out their attacks.
The second story talks about legislative acts of violence that makes it easier for perpetrators of physical violence to target transgender people. They might even encourage them. These laws are proposed (and now passed in South Dakota) in the name of Christian morality and defense of straw man victims. Sadly, this puts Christianity in a bad light, putting a selfish interest (prejudice) ahead of concern for the wellbeing of innocent people who are put into clear and present danger on a regular and ongoing basis.
Both stories from a lofty perspective point out some of the victims of violence against transgender people. Like the prospective client in our Wall Street tale, we wonder, where are the victims of violence done by transgender people? Indeed, where are victims of violence done by people pretending to be transgender?
Summary of the first story: For Jacie Leopold, a trans woman in the latter stages of physical transition, the night of her company’s Christmas party in 2014 was the night that the lights went out in Arkansas. Since then, a phalanx of backwoods Southern judges, lawyers and police officers have denied her justice. She has no job and no car, but the medical bills don’t go away.
With thinly veiled irony, Charlize Veritas, a trans woman and the author of the following Huff Post piece, comments that Jacie is “very lucky”. This sort of thing still happens all too frequently, and sometimes it leads to the victim’s death. Even so, there is a loud chorus of voices blaming the victim.
Summary of the second story: Before I talk about the story, I will say a few words about the author. Among Brynn Tannehill’s many accomplishments, she graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and then earned a master’s degree in operations research from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology; served her country as a Naval Officer for nearly 17 years, much of that time as a pilot, flying over 450 combat missions and over 700 hours on non-combat missions; has continued to serve her country as a senior defense analyst and technical scientist for private firms; came out as a trans woman; writes brilliant articles highlighting transgender issues in our society of who we are and what we face.
The title of her article plays on Protestant Pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous quote that succinctly describes how failure to defend others from unfair attack led to Adolf Hitler’s rise to absolute power in Nazi Germany where no German citizen could stand against him and be safe. Brynn brings to light a systematic plan advanced by the Family Research Council that targets members of the transgender community to make us less than second class citizens. As a backlash against the recent advances that help us to live as freely as any other citizen enjoys, it would eventually lead to such a hostile environment that would either force us into the dark underbelly of society or keep us cowering in the closet.
(Brynn knows something about music, too. Just as I alluded to Vicki Lawrence’s “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”, she quotes a phrase from Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”.)
Brynn also gives special attention to the targeting of transgender children at the forefront of this attack strategy. If there is any group that highlights the innocence of transgender identity, it is these precious and courageous children who are daring to step out at a time of life when most of us feared to tread. The FRC and others who support this plan know that these children are the most vulnerable part of the transgender community. If they can effectively drive this generation of transgender children back underground, who knows how many generations it will be before the transgender community can once again emerge from the Dark Ages.
I need not rewrite Brynn’s article for her. She does a magnificent job on her own:
As a Christian, I am deeply saddened by the central role played by the Family Research Council in attacking the transgender community. I can remember many articles of sound advice from their organization, mostly from the pen of Dr. James Dobson. (I make no claims as to whether it would be different if Dobson were still at the helm of this ministry.) It’s almost like another close Christian friend turned against me, as some did when I came out.
But there is also good news tonight. I have one more link to share. But rather than a story (I said that there were only two), this is a report about a research study out of the University of Washington that was released Friday (2/26). The study suggests that parental support is a major factor in the success of a child’s transition. In other words, it is not the gender issue that leads to problems; it is the lack of support.
The researchers honestly admit that more studies are needed to test for other reasons for the findings. But while their methodology was somewhat different, the study’s finding are consistent with an Ontario study of a few years ago with a much larger data base of trans youth age 16-24. I referred to this study in my blog post of 1/6/16, “A Dream Deferred … or Worse”.
As these findings mount, they are poking huge holes in the failed arguments of doctors like Paul McHugh who base their beliefs on their own prejudices, biased studies of their own commission and disingenuous reporting of other studies which arrived at vastly different conclusions (while failing to acknowledge those conclusions). Hopefully these accurate studies are coffin nails that can finally put these failed beliefs to rest and bury them where they belong.
Meanwhile, those Christians (and others who take their authority from scripture) who lie about transgender people would do well to consider the Old Testament penalty for falsely accusing someone. It is the negative counterpart to the New Testament teaching that with the measure by which you forgive, so shall you be forgiven.
If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. – Deuteronomy 19:16-19