Wednesday, February 22, 2017

YA Guy Writes about... Transgender Rights!

Though YA Guy has very strong political opinions, I've tended to shy away from politics on my blog. Maybe I thought this space wasn't the proper forum, or maybe I was concerned about alienating readers who don't share my political views. Whatever the reason, I've devoted the great majority of my posts to book-related subjects, my own and other writers'.

But you know, I've decided that I've been wrong to relegate politics to such a minor role on this blog.

Recently, I read a report that noted with some optimism that rates of suicide among gay teens have declined markedly as an apparent result of the movement for marriage equality. That was, I thought, a positive sign that the country might be moving away from discrimination and its corrosive effects.

But then today, I read that as one of his very first actions in office, Donald Trump's Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, rescinded Obama-era protections securing transgender students the right to use the bathroom that aligns with their identity. Like many Republicans, Sessions believes that states, municipalities, and districts rather than the federal government should make the determination as to whether transgender students should be required to use the bathroom that matches their chromosomes. He has also cited some parents' concerns about male students posing as transgender girls in order to assault their peers in bathrooms. As is so common with the current administration, neither he nor anyone else has been able to produce data to suggest that this might actually occur or be occurring.

By contrast, there are reams of evidence showing that transgender students are bullied, intimidated, abused, and attacked at rates far exceeding the national average. This includes sexual assault, with roughly 50% of transgender people having been victimized in this way.

It was only a couple of generations ago that segregation based on race was legal--and one of the arguments for such segregation was the specious claim that white women were at heightened risk of rape by black men. Sessions, a native of Selma, Alabama, surely remembers those days. And he likely knows that leaving transgender rights to the whim of local school boards will produce (and already has produced) the same pattern of unequal rights by geography as existed in the days of George Wallace and Bull Connor.

So yes, writing about political issues like this is very much the province of the YA Guy blog. I'm a writer of literature for young people, and as such, any issue that affects young people, for good or for ill, is my business. I regret having shied from such issues in the past in the mistaken belief that they were best left to more overtly political forums. In the future, though of course I'll continue to write about books, I'll also continue to use this blog as a place to write about issues beyond the printed page.

I suppose I might lose a reader or two with this approach. But to be honest, any reader who's comfortable with depriving a group of young people of their civil rights isn't one I care to have reading my blog or my books anyway.

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