A cruel and dangerous waste of time
The other day, the host of a television public affairs show asked me what I thought a group of Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers were trying to accomplish as they pursue passage of a gratuitously cruel bill that would ban transgender athletes from competing on women’s sports teams.
I’ll admit it. I was stumped.
I couldn’t think of a single, measurable public good that would come from the bill. But I could think of plenty that was wrong with it.
Because when I think about that bill, all I can think about is the pain that creased the face of Lily Freeman, a 15-year-old transgender young woman from suburban Philadelphia, as she talked about the destructive impact that the proposal would have on her and other transgender young women who have found refuge and acceptance in interscholastic athletics.
“It’s all about stripping away the connection that girls have to each other,” she said. “People in power are stripping away the definition of what it means to be a woman.”
Freeman’s about my daughter’s age — she’s 16 now, and proudly out. And I couldn’t help but wonder whether, once Republicans got done banning the transgender kids, they’d come for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, or non-binary kids next.
It’s not idle speculation. We’re already halfway there. Florida has its hateful ‘Don’t Say Gay” bill. Lawmakers in 35 states have introduced legislation attacking LGBTQ+ people, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
And here in the Keystone State, Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled General Assembly can’t even get around to embedding anti-discrimination protections for its LGBTQ citizens into state law — even when polling data shows that a majority of people, including Republicans, support it.
Freeman was clearly thinking the same thing. She implored lawmakers to “focus on the real issues” that all women face, such as “the pay gap, eating disorders, and sexual abuse.
“Pennsylvania is my home. Don’t let this hurtful, destructive bill come up for a vote,” she continued, her voice rising in anger. “We are trans people. We are here. And we are never going away.”