I am concerned for families in the climate that is currently brewing in our country.
There is so much backlash directed toward transgender people in general. Sometimes it comes from religious beliefs that misread the Bible and fail to see the great diversity that is God’s creation. Many times it’s out of fear.
Legislators are targeting transgender kids and their parents. In Texas, it is considered child abuse for parents to supportively advocate for their trans kids. They cannot get needed health care. They cannot access mental health services. They cannot advocate for their own children as they become fully themselves.
Ohio is taking steps in the same way.
House Bill 454, which would have banned affirming mental and medical care for LGBTQ youth, was making its way through committee, but GOP lawmakers decided not to try pushing it through the lame duck session. However, its likely to reappear once the new year hits.
One friend of mine, who is the father of a transgender son, says this:
"HB 454 would restrict my agency and responsibility as a parent to provide the best care possible for my son, whom I love and want to see flourish in life. HB 454 would deny my son’s access to safe, effective, and clinically appropriate therapies and prescriptions to fully be the person he knows himself to be. HB454 would limit health care providers and other professionals from being able to properly care for the emotional and psychological well-being of transgender children."
Chances are, you’re not transgender. Chances are, you don’t have a transgender child. Chances are, you don’t personally know someone who is transgender. If you don’t understand someone else’s experience, that doesn’t mean their experience is wrong. And malicious legislation targeting such a small portion of people doesn’t make the difficulty of being trans or caring for a trans child any easier.
Nobody is asking you to take to the streets draped in a trans flag. You won’t "turn" trans by seeing a trans person on TV. All it takes is a little bit of learning. And that learning goes a long way toward making sure a child feels like they can be who they are meant to be. As everyone’s favorite football-turned-futball coach, Ted Lasso, might say, "Be curious, not judgmental."
I want the government to stay out of it and allow parents and kids to continue making the best choices for their own situation.
Imagine a new type of cancer treatment is available for children. A small group of loud citizens then raises hell about the treatment and a small group of legislators convinces the state to not even give parents and kids the chance to make that decision on their own.
Imagine a doctor saying, "Sorry, due to state law, we can’t offer your child life-saving cancer treatment." You’d be outraged. You’d say, "Screw the state, my kid is going to die!"
That’s what freedom is all about to me − the ability to make informed, safe decisions that improve overall quality of life without government interference. My adult child is trans. They are no less of an American than you are. They live in a country that affords them freedom of expression, just like everyone else.
I want us to stop fearing differences. I want us all to be able to be who we are and fully accepted for that.
My friend continued, "I know my child much better than the state ever will. I know how our family wishes to support, encourage, and care for our son… I wish to be able to provide the best, and most extensive health and mental care available to my child."
As a pastor, a parent, and grandparent, that is what I want. Let us take some time to understand transgender people before we blindly toss them to the curb.
All of us want to be seen and acknowledged and loved. All of us want freedom. Bills like this take away from that.
Dale Lykins lives in Mason and is pastor of The Open Table.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Opinion: Anti-trans laws based on fear, ignorance