Today, the Alabama House of Representatives voted to make it illegal for doctors to proscribe gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth (18 and under).
I am grateful for what a few representatives said in the battle that ended in a vote of 66-28 in favor of this bill.
Rep. England: “You’re saying this is about children. It’s not. What it is about is scoring political points and using those children as collateral damage”
Rep. Rafferty: “Its totally undermining family rights, health rights and access to health care.”
I was pretty numb while I read this headline at first. A protective numbness.
I was numb until I reached this quote in the article from Rep. Wes Allen: “Their brains are not developed to make the decisions long term about what these medications and surgeries do to their body,”
When I read that, I was angry. I was frustrated by the utter stupidity of it all. I wanted to storm down to that house and explain to this man that going through puberty ~naturally~ or whatever Is A Choice, and a choice with lasting, lifelong repercussions. I want to ask why he thinks the state should be able to make this choice for children: A choice that he states will have lasting effects on their bodies.
I have been fighting my body for years, and if I had been given the option at the beginning to not have to go through that, hell yes I would have picked that.
I’m not a better person for having had two puberties. I’m just sadder.
All I want is to be able to protect those kids in Alabama. I want to protect my trans students from the ricocheting pain I am feeling after this bill. And after all the rest.
In trying to understand who I am as a teacher I found a misconception I had been holding on to: I thought the pull to teaching was math.
(And I do love math I am grateful to have it as a partner in this endeavor I love its definitiveness and ambiguity
Give me good pattern any day of the week and I’ll be happy Or an algorithm a visualization a comparison a mapping a graph a prediction a puzzle
Math is a language where you can express both more and less than you can with words.
Math carries a precision that syllables and sentences never can Yet fails to articulate the finest points of humanness)
But to say I am tied to teaching because I love math is a knot that will unravel under tension. I would not have ended up here if I had not accompanied a bouquet of trans folks On legs of their expeditions: Through crushing expectations Through meeting themselves Through glimmers of expansive freedom Through letting the world in to meet them.
I teach in order to hold a place for these gender explorers and defiers For these norm breakers For these students looking for someone to see them, to know them.
I stumbled into teaching with my crochet hook and calculator with enormous and hazy and overwhelming dreams To chip away at these walls against which my back is pressed To exist where they said we couldn’t To make space for us.
powerful people Think that it is abuse To let me feel free
They want our existence to be reported Our support systems ripped out from under us
They want us gone Because we make them question every lie they ever told themselves about how they were allowed to exist through the world
We make them confront the terrifying expanse that the universe becomes when you realize it is your right to define yourself boundlessly, to be fully human, fully unique and yet the same, fully perfect and yet never not fully a work in progress
There are people Who Think that it is abuse To help me feel free
But who refuse to see the enormously obvious, heart shatteringly painful reality that is That their words rip open barely healed wounds There will be unthinkable, unforgivable pain because of this There will be lives broken and lost.
I want to hold a message of hope. Of ‘we will prevail’.
But it’s hard to stay positive and be a trans person in a world where your right to exist continues to be questioned in new old ways. I’m tired. I’m in pain.
——- Required afterthought: But we will care for eachother And we will care for ourselves And we will be free
Mx. (Pronounced “Mix”) is an honorific, like Mr. or Mrs, except it is gender neutral.
As the start to my first full year of teaching creeps ever closer (or rather it races unfathomably quickly towards me…seriously this must be an olympic record for time passing) I have to face some major logistical decisions. Namely, I have to decide on what name and pronouns I will use with students.
This feels like a huge decision for a few reasons:
It determines how my students and new colleagues will know and refer to me
It determines what type of non-binary/queer representation I am going to be for my students. Am I going to be out and proud as a non-binary person? Am I going to be vocal? Am I going to let it be a minor part of my identity and focus on mathematics?
If I choose not to use Mr. and he/him pronouns, it means coming out yet again to my family and friends. And I am afraid that they will see that as me changing my mind or rushing into a decision, instead of seeing this as me more deeply understanding myself and my gender. Insert something about gender being a journey and not a destination here.
All of my being warns me that asking for people to use they/them pronouns, or to use Mx. as my honorific, will be a major inconvenience for everyone involved. I really struggle asking for things in general. To ask for this curtesy, this recognition, this respect, feels like a lot.
But I have to trust it will be worth it. It’ll be worth it to feel seen and validated in my queerness, my non-normativeness, by those around me. It will be worth it to help my students see whats possible for them too.