My kid Harry will be in San Francisco next week for his* birthday. I like to see him on or around the day that celebrates him, so we’re getting together for brunch on Sunday. I asked him to make a reservation, because it’s Easter. And then I reminded him that I wasn’t bringing a present, because, instead, I’d offered to get a large fine-art photograph that his dad bought him framed professionally. “That’s a great gift, Mom,” they said. “And I’m glad you finally stopped buying me Easter candy.” Then I had to admit I did have one chocolaty item for him.
My son used to love hunting for Easter eggs. And even though Harry will be 26 this year, I still have their notes to the Easter Bunny. And to the Tooth Fairy, too, of course. I think Harry figured that if he wrote to Santa, why leave out anyone else who was magical.
Then yesterday an email I received from a woman who identified herself as the “mom of an 8-year-old fabulous, gender creative boy” made me smile. I could feel the pride in her words. And I flashed on Harry at that age, when the terms “gender creative” and “gender nonconforming” were rare or unknown. I remembered his birthdays at that age in the late ‘90s; when there was nothing they wanted more than Pokémon cards, bear Beanie Babies and a purple Game Boy.
And as Harry’s mom, my wish every year was that the happiness of each birthday would last 365 days. I wanted him to know always the love his dad and I had for him, to be confident and secure with himself, and to feel safe in the world. That’s still my wish. I imagine it’s the hope for the mom who wrote to me yesterday. And I’m sure it’s the hope and prayer of countless other mothers, too, especially those moms of gender-nonconforming and transgender children in North Carolina.
Like so many, I was horrified to learn that a state law, rammed through the Republican-controlled legislature and approved yesterday by the governor, eliminated anti-discrimination protection for all LGBTQ people in North Carolina, including barring non-binary and/or transgender men and women from entering the bathroom they feel most comfortable using.
We must demand full civil rights for all people.
Influential activists in the movement for LGBTQ equality, like Michelangelo Signorile and Dan Savage, have written often and spoken loudly of the enemies of LGBTQ rights. It was at a talk last May, presented by the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association and the CUNY J-School Chapter, that the two of them reminded writers not to be complacent following the victory of what they expected would be an historic SCOTUS decision for marriage equality. We can’t be complacent; we still have to fight, they said, especially for youth issues and the trans movement.
So in the wake of yesterday’s huge step back in to time to bigotry at the state level, and on the brink of similar legislation in Georgia, I want to stay focused on working for a solution. We must demand full civil rights for all people.
This morning I got an email for Mara Keilsing, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). They put together a series of resources and action items in response to the shocking and shameful North Carolina law. I’m sharing the NCTE list here not only for the people who live in North Carolina, but for everyone else around the country who’s outraged and angered by the new law.
I’m hopeful you’ll agree that the time has come for all who believe in equality to step up, speak out and be heard. Let’s do it because it’s the right thing to do, and because all of our kids — regardless of how they express themselves — need to know we’re invested in a future for them where everyone will be treated equally under the law.
Note: My son uses the pronouns “he/him,” “she/her” and “they/their” interchangeably, so as Harry’s mom, I do as well.
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