Washington's Own Anti-Trans Bill
This weekend, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Michael Knowles said, to thunderous applause, "There can be no middle ground in dealing with transgenderism...Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely." If you had any lingering doubts about the genocidal aim of the 400+ anti-queer bills introduced around the United States this session, there is no longer any room for them. Conservative politicians want genocide, and, from the conservative party, all we've heard is applause.
Earlier this year, one of my friends made an offhand comment about how at least we're safe here, in Washington State. So I took a look at the bills in committee; as it turns out, I might be safe, but my younger cousins, and thousands of other queer youth are not. Senator Phil Fortunato (R), from the 31st District sponsored a bill that would require educators and school counselors and nurses to become agents of mass surveillance, reporting all student behavior to parents with a new reporting system.
You can read the bill here. What follows is my response, a letter I've sent to Phil. I suggest you let him know your thoughts as well: (360) 786-7660
To Senator Fortunato, re: SB 5653
I am writing to encourage you to disavow SB 5653, which you have sponsored, immediately. This bill, mandating that all educators, school counselors, and school healthcare professionals become tools of widespread government surveillance and reporting, will put the physical and emotional safety of thousands of Washington State students at risk. The child’s right to safety must supersede the parent’s desire to use their power to coerce a child into behaving in ways that will ultimately damage their health. If a parent wants to know what’s happening in their child’s life, may I suggest that they simply ask them?
This bill only serves those whose children cannot trust them–since all that’s necessary for receiving this information is asking and building a relationship wherein the child feels safe to answer. If a child has made the devastating assessment that leads them to believe that for their own safety they must lead a double life, behaving differently at school than at home, it is not the state or the school’s place to put that child back in danger by reporting their behavior to the parent. Children are recognized as a vulnerable population. In part, they have this designation because they are completely reliant on the adults in their lives for access to food, shelter, and healthcare.
What will parents do with this “right” to the privacy of their children? Maybe they have an honest desire to better know their child, so they may better support that child. But all too often, information, especially that relating to a child’s gender presentation, is used so that a parent may employ “corrective” tools. These “tools” are invalidation, coercion, and abuse. A parent has the power to deny their child food, shelter, and healthcare in order to coerce them into pretending to be cisgender or straight. They have the power to punish them for not convincingly pretending to be cisgender or straight. Thousands of children have come to the heartbreaking realization that a separation of how they behave at school and at home is a matter of life and death.
The “childhood of children” should not necessitate that some children spend every day in fear that if they do not perfectly perform a gender that does not belong to them, their teachers will report them, and then they will be verbally abused, hit, or thrown out onto the streets.
There is an abundance of research showing that pretending to be a gender that does not match your own causes long lasting psychological damage and can trigger thoughts of suicide, eating disorders, and long-term mental health issues. Robbing students of a safe place in the schools where they can be themselves by adding this level of surveillance will lead not only to widespread suffering in our children, but also the deaths of many.
I grew up here in Washington State, between Ellensburg and Seattle. Many of my friends, as children, learned the devastating truth that their parents would rather them dead than honest with them. Protecting the childhood of children is not done by increasing surveillance, but by increasing support. Protecting the childhood of children is not done by grooming them to be cisgender and straight, but by allowing them to grow up into whoever they want to be.
Washington State is known to be a safe state for queer people in the United States. The idea that you would defile that reputation with a bill meant to surveille and ultimately punish children is ludicrous, and yet you’ve done it. You should be ashamed. This will not go unnoticed.
So this is my call to you all: do not let this go unnoticed. We will not be quiet as they target queer children before they ever have a chance to grow up. We will not be quiet as they call for our eradication, entirely. We will not believe that any of us are safe, so long as they target others elsewhere. Speak up now.
And also, for the love of god, please someone send me some good news.