I hate that it’s so easy to get source material exposing the bigotry still alive and well in this state. Within a span of 12 days, three stories made news, right here in North Carolina. Another appeared on their heels. They’re indicative of how much animus, intolerance and downright hate still exists in this state vis-à-vis trans and LGB issues. I sometimes have to wonder if we’ve made much headway in the court of public opinion. Given that real change is usually a grassroots kind of thing, watching how social mores evolve gives us insights into how tolerance and diversity evolve. Judging by these letters and articles, it would seem that we’re still living in the dark ages.
The first item appeared just before Thanksgiving. Someone living in Davidson County wrote a homophobic letter to The (Lexington, N.C.) Dispatch entitled “Homosexual Threat.”
The letter was chock full of the kind of lies and innuendo we hope to see a new generation of Americans repudiate; you know: predator myths, mental illness allegations, as well as the “it’s a lifestyle” meme. You can respond to this kind of nonsense (we did), but there’s always some wingnut ready to step up. My letter was followed by the classic “God chastens America.” This one trotted out the “America is a second rate power, thanks to all you perverts and the Anti Christ” diatribe. Just to make sure we comprehend how hateful this writer is, he throws in the following gem “You can be homosexual, bisexual, murderer, rapist or whatever because there’s no moral law against it.” Sheeessshhh!
You can find both letters at The Dispatch’s website, as well as the replies: the-dispatch.com/section/opinion02.
A few days after Thanksgiving, I heard about the G105 incident. If you aren’t familiar with this Raleigh radio station, G105 airs one of those comedy-in-the-morning shows. This one originally aired on Nov. 12, 2010. Listen to the clip here: goqnotes-launch2.newspackstaging.com/FRI08.mp3.
The gist of the conversation with the caller detailed his experience in a nightclub with a trans-identied woman whom he claims had deceived him. Amongst the banter were copious pronoun mis-pronunications including references to “it” and “she-him.” These were tame compared to the tack the conversation eventually took. After the caller described a kiss, one of the moderators asked how many times he (the caller) had showered after learning, to his disgust, that the person he kissed was trans. But, most heinous and disturbing was the remark to which GLAAD responded. From the GLAAD blog, “One of the hosts even went as far as to advocate violence against her and likened her to a sexually transmitted infection.”
On Dec. 5, Raleigh’s News and Observer ran a story on an incarcerated trans woman. Shawn McDaniels has since been released, but the experiences related to us about life in prison for a trans woman are enough to scare the crap out of anyone. As if it weren’t frightening enough to be victimized by other inmates, the heinous stories of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of prison guards are downright alarming. One officer has been charged and is now awaiting trial.
“Penitentiary is a different world,” McDaniels, who was released on parole Oct. 1, told The News & Observer. “A sergeant with three stripes, his word is gold. If I didn’t do as he said, he could have written me up for nothing, had me thrown into the hole. He could have said I hit him and had me arrested. Nobody’s going to take my word over his.”
This is the kind of dark-ages behavior still being perpetrated against trans individuals.
Lastly, there is the case of Mike Adams, a professor at UNC-Wilmington. Adams is a well-known trans-phobe who writes a column for TownHall.com and other commentary sites. Recently, Greensboro’s News & Record ran an article, eventually picked up by The Associated Press, about a voice clinic for trans-identified women at UNC-Greensboro. Mike Adams just couldn’t resist. On Dec. 8, he let forth a tirade with the kind of hateful vitriol we have come to expect from this out-and-out bigot.
“According to the AP,” Adams wrote, “’Nicole’ actually spent over $100,000 on an attempted transition from male to female, including flying to, of all places, Thailand, for sexual reassignment surgery. (Please, no dirty Bangkok jokes.) After spending a whopping $20,000 on facial hair removal Nicole still had a problem: His voice still gave him away as a male (because he was and still is a male).”
Adams added, “Despite the deep budget crisis, North Carolina taxpayers pay UNCG speech pathologists to teach transgender people how to speak like the people of the sex they are trying unsuccessfully to become. Does that make sense? Of course it doesn’t. We’re talking about UNC-Gomorrah.”
Many have expressed their dismay to UNC-Wilmington, but, to our best knowledge, Adams has been an independent agent and Town Hall has no apparent connection to UNCW. Fair-minded individuals recognize that Adams certainly has a constitutional right to spout obnoxious vitriol; fair-minded individuals can make their voices heard, as well, and let the public know about Adams’ and others’ despicable behavior.
Additionally, North Carolinians still have no statewide protections against discrimination aimed at LGBT citizens. While 13 states and hundreds of jurisdictions nationwide have enacted laws, only three local jurisdictions in North Carolina have followed suit. And, as noted, the human rights of those who have been incarcerated are tragically in jeopardy.
It is not the case that efforts to educate have been lacking. Many trans individuals have spent countless hours talking, writing and speaking. We are not unaware of the mechanisms that induce change, but where our efforts to inform others regarding discriminatory behavior end, we feel it is incumbent upon citizens who believe in equal rights to pick up the torch and educate themselves, their families, friends and coworkers. The fight for equality belongs to everyone. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., no one will truly enjoy equal rights until we all have a share in equality. : :
— Comments and corrections can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Robbi Cohn, email email@example.com.