Sometimes I wonder if Americans realize that in other countries people aren’t gunning each other down in grocery stores, movie theaters, churches, and schools every freaking day. And if there does happen to be a mass shooting in other nations, it’s actually huge news. Not like a blip on the radar, right after “Kourtney Kardashian is dating Travis Barker!” and right before “Trump tweets something racist… again.”
Do people realize this? That it’s actually not normal and shouldn’t be accepted with a shrug of, “Well, that’s America for ya!” when literally every day there’s another shooting of 3, 5, 10, 15 people?!
But that’s how U.S. culture has come to accept our constant influx of news about gun violence. “Oh, only four people died this time? Phew. At least it’s not 20.” Or, “It was all adults? [Breathes sigh of relief] Glad it wasn’t another school.”
What in the actual fuck, America?
And to add insult to injury (literally), many of our elected government officials—specifically those of the three Rs—red, right, and Republican—basically do backflips every time one of these shootings does happen (which is daily) to avoid doing, well anything at all.
Instead of addressing the fact that the rate of gun-related homicides in the U.S. (per capita) is 99 times that of the U.K. and nearly 200 times that of Japan, and instead of addressing that, on average there are 120 guns per 100 people in this country and only 35 per 100 people in Canada, the Republicans in this country will talk about literally anything else so they can avoid talking about this.
Popular targets include Nancy Pelosi, “socialism” (even though most Americans don’t understand what this word means), and climate change because screw the Earth, right? Sorry, kids, but Gramps DGAF if you have clean air to breathe in 50 years.
Hell, Fox News will go off on a tangent about Biden’s dog if they can skirt talking about our gun violence epidemic.
Lately, however, their main target seems to be trans men and women. Actually, scratch that. Trans children.
In states like Florida, for example, (where the Parkland school shooting left 17 students and faculty members dead), rather than passing stricter laws that maybe could have prohibited this very troubled teen from so easily purchasing a gun, the government instead is trying to pass a bill to stop trans kids from playing sports. Because apparently having a trans girl on their daughter’s soccer team is a far greater threat than a deranged gunman mowing down dozens of children in the school cafeteria.
Texas is another state that’s freaking out about trans children playing sports with cisgender children. And, it’s another state that really, really likes its guns. Texas, where a manhunt for an active shooter made national news just the other day—a killing spree that included the gunman’s ex-wife and her daughter. Texas, where just a few years ago, a teenager killed 10 people (most of whom were students) at Santa Fe High School.
But again, there’s no discussion of the constant, relentless gun violence that plagues Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, New York, Illinois, and every other fucking state in our country. At least not from Repug-licans whose campaigns, we all know, are funded in large part by their buddies at the NRA.
Instead, their focus is on actively taking away the one thing that saves many kids—the one thing that helps their mental and physical health. Or, even more horrifying, they are voting to force children to “prove” their gender if they want to play a sport.
Take Mississippi, for example. According to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Mississippi has the weakest gun laws in the country and the highest gun death rate.” To prove this point, Mississippi is missing many key elements to common-sense gun legislation. Legislation that’s proven successful in curbing high rates of gun-related deaths. Those key elements include:
- Universal background checks
- Gun owner licensing
- Extreme risk protection orders
- Domestic violence gun laws
- Assault weapon restrictions
- Large capacity magazine ban
- Waiting periods
- Concealed carry permit
- Open carry regulations
- Community violence intervention funding
And yet, what are Mississippi law-makers focused on right now? Not stopping their residents from shooting each other, but rather, the “Mississippi Fairness Act”, which prohibits schools from allowing transgender female students to compete in female sports. Because again, it’s not important to Republicans that we protect our kids from being shot to death. It’s far important that we make sure trans kids are further ostracized and pushed into isolation from society so they can’t—heaven forbid—pitch in a softball game or win a race at the track meet.
Also, because we know how the far right feels about science, it isn’t surprising to learn that there is literally no credible medical or scientific backing for these bigotry-fueled bills. They’re just discriminatory and abusive, solely driven by hate and fear.
Dr. Eric Vilain, a pediatrician and geneticist who studies sex differences in athletes, says “There are no good faith reasons to limit transgender women’s participation in sports, especially at the high school level,” reports NPR. In fact, the article goes on to say, “Vilain has advised both the International Olympic Committee and the NCAA, and says these laws generally aren’t based in scientific evidence, but rather ‘target women who have either a different biology or … simply look different.'”
And these bills don’t just ban trans kids from participating. They open the door for sexual assault and humiliation, which leave lifelong scars on the victims.
This is who the Republican party is, folks, and it’s horrifying on so many levels. Florida Republicans have said it’s okay that kids—trans, cisgender, boys, girls, and non-binary—(really anyone whose gender is “in question”) may be forced to drop their pants and let a stranger inspect their genitals so they can fucking play soccer. Let that sink in.
This goes against everything we teach our kids, from the time they’re toddlers… “No one touches you there,” “No one looks at you there”… and now kids and their parents have to decide if it’s worth this invasive, abusive practice so they can participate in something that for many children is literally life-saving. Something all kids have the right to participate in, to enjoy, and to reap the benefits of.
The Texas Tribune reports that the latest proposal in Texas takes a different approach, and would require kids to prove their gender via their birth certificate. But again, opponents are sharing the widely-known fact that literally no science backs the assertion that trans kids are at an “unfair advantage” in sports and call the Republican leadership-backed bill “a ‘fear tactic’ in search of a problem that doesn’t exist.” Also, this practice will unfairly keep many migrant and foster kids out of sports, who may not have a birth certificate to begin with.
Here’s the hard, ugly truth: We all know what this is really about. We all know that Republican transphobia is leading lawmakers to create a debate based on nothing, but what it does allow is for is continued discrimination toward trans kids. It provides them with a place to put their hatred—sign it in law even! They are afraid of what they don’t understand, and rather than trying to open their tiny brains to the possibility of an education about what transgender means, they cross their arms, turn the other way, and actively ruin the lives of the most vulnerable among us.
“Sports have become another avenue to attack the rights of trans people,” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando). “And those efforts have caused incredible harm to trans youth, who, like all kids, especially in the middle of a pandemic, deserve compassion and support.”
I mean, I guess we aren’t surprised though, right? This is the back-ass-wards “party of family values” (that also supported Trump in some nonsensical bizarro world where that’s acceptable) and is the same party that fought same-sex marriage, has supported all sorts of legislation prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting, supported businesses who discriminate against same-sex couples, and supported bills that banned transgender military personnel from serving our country.
Their homophobia and transphobia isn’t new, but now their bigotry is specifically attacking kids, which is a special breed of ugly.
And perhaps the most heartbreaking piece is that chances are, some of these legislators have children who are transgender themselves. And those vulnerable children are watching as their parents sign papers that strip them of their livelihood and expose them to abuse and humiliation.
But hey, at least we don’t have to talk about guns, right?
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