It happened. It actually freaking happened. I ran into one of those people. The ones who are working to undo everything we have worked for to make our son whole.
In the wake of the recent passing of the Transgender Public Accommodations bill into law here in Massachusetts, there was always going to be those unhappy with the result. The Massachusetts “Family” Institute has organized a petition against the so-called “Bathroom Bill” and are actively gathering signatures for a 2018 ballot initiative to have the Public Accommodations law withdrawn.
And I ran into one of them. Right here at the Wegman’s in Northborough.
The encounter left me infuriated. Fortunately I kept my composure throughout and I don’t think I harmed our cause.
As I was leaving Wegman’s earlier today, a small woman came up to me with the petition and asked me to sign it. She must have thought I had a mental problem because I took so long to respond. Of course I knew what she was asking me. However, I needed to weigh my response. Should I explode in anger, right here in public for the world to see? Should I ignore her and just say no? Of course not. I was going to explain to her, as calmly as I could, that what she was doing was wrong.
So, I gave the woman my answer: Absolutely No. I told the lady that I went to the State House and spoke with the Governor and several lawmakers in support of the Public Accommodations bill. I identified myself as the parent of a transgender child.
Then I laid in. “Do you know anyone who is transgender? Do you know anyone with a transgender child?” The response was evasive: she told me she knows about transgender people. “No! I asked you if you personally know any transgender people! I take it that is a no.” I was correct.
I told her our story. To her credit, she at least seemed to listen politely. I told her how Eli had been horribly unhappy and had suicidal ideations. I told her that he came out to us and we made the decision to support him because that was the lifesaving decision to make. The only decision to make, in fact.
I asked her if she had children. (She looked like a 40-ish lady, and I doubt 40-ish childless ladies are going to be spending a Saturday afternoon of a long summer weekend standing with a petition at a supermarket.) Yes, she had kids. OK, then…”I guarantee you, I absolutely guarantee you, if one of your kids came up to you in trouble like mine, if you had to walk even two inches in my shoes, then you wouldn’t be standing here with that petition.”
That deserved a response from her. Unfortunately, an intelligible one never came. Instead, I got a bunch of horse-poop taken right from the M”F”I playbook. She understands that being transgender is hard. She supports kids going through this. She just thinks she has a right to privacy in the bathroom. Don’t I think, she asks me, that people will abuse the bill? “Oh, you mean a dude like me, six feet tall, weighing 200+ lbs and hairy, dressed in a little skirt and espadrilles…” (this got her laughing) “…ready to molest little girls in the women’s room because he feels like being a woman today?” The lady nodded. “Well, that would make him a pervert, and we have laws against that. The PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS law does not change that.”
(I also had to remind her that the language she is using in her petition is designed to scare people like her and does not reflect what the bill is really about.)
Then…she decided to piss me off royally. She told me that she so cares about transgender people, but the bill harms kids like mine because of the backlash it is supposedly generating. That is, my kid is now in danger because someone is going to yell at them now that the world is forced to be nice to them. WHAT?!?!?!?!?!? “So, you’re telling me that the reason you are here on this very beautiful Labor Day Weekend Saturday, standing with this clipboard in front of this supermarket instead of enjoying the very beautiful day, is that you feel so strongly concerned about the safety of transgender people??? Do you think I was born yesterday?” (Clearly, there’s some M”F”I script she’s following, but at this point not very well.) “Lady, you don’t know any transgender people. No way on earth you have any concern for them. You are here because you are put off by them. You think the bill means that you will be sharing a bathroom with men. You are wrong.”
She admitted that she was there because she worried about privacy in the bathroom. “Not to be rude, but do you look at anyone in the bathroom? I just go. My son, he just keeps to himself, closes the stall door, does his business, and just leaves. That what transgender people do. That’s what most people do.” She responded that now that things are out in the open, it is so much worse for transgender people. “That’s on people like you,” I responded.
After about a half-hour of banter, I was done. (My frozen stuff was melting.) I told her she was wrong to be here with that petition. That was my opinion, she responded, and hers was different. “No, not my opinion. You are objectively wrong. Because, as I said, if you walked two inches in my shoes, you wouldn’t be standing here.”
And at that I left.
Please, if you run into someone like this woman with this petition, tell her the petition is wrong. Do not sign. This bill, which is law next month, is life to my son and other transgender kids.