I am wearing my awesome purple dress today, both because it is awesome, and because it is purple. Today is Spirit Day, a day of awareness of the effects of bullying. In honor thereof, I’m not going to talk about the presidential race today, because issues that impact the LGBT community are still not accorded their proper due and are being decided piecemeal, state-by-state.
I live in Tennessee, land of “Don’t Say Gay;” home of state lawmakers who try to carve an exception for “faith-based bullying” into anti-bullying measures; and holding pen for lunatic State Rep. Richard Floyd, a man so intensely transphobic he introduced a bill that would make it a crime in Tennessee to use a public restroom or dressing room other than the one designated for the sex on your birth certificate, convinced it is necessary to keep the (heterosexual) public safe. Floyd didn’t’ try to justify his bill with anything OTHER than hate:
“It could happen here,” Floyd said. “I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there — I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there — I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry. Don’t ask me to adjust to their perverted way of thinking and put my family at risk. We cannot continue to let these people dominate how society acts and reacts. Now if somebody thinks he’s a woman and he’s a man and wants to try on women’s clothes, let him take them into the men’s bathroom or dressing room.”
I had heard of Floyd and his unabashed hatred of the LGBT community, back in January when this bill was proposed. In the interim, he had faded from my consciousness. Like “Don’t Say Gay” and “License to Bully,” the “Bathroom Bill” was introduced, made Tennessee a national (international?) laughingstock, and faded away without becoming state law (thank god). But recently I started working for the campaign of a wonderful State Rep, part of the thin blue line that keeps Rachel Maddow from establishing a permanent Nashville bureau, and I started thinking about what would happen if those bills actually had become law. As I meet with her supporters – union members, leaders in the states LGBT rights movement, and honest-to-god Tennessee feminists – it restores so much of my faith in my home state, and motivates me to work harder to fix our broken state house. Personhood is coming up soon, and we only just beat back a disastrous Alabama-copycat immigration bill, and Richard Floyd is still a sitting rep.
Still, nothing prepared me for how I’d feel after talking to Christy. Christy is a transsexual woman. She works overnight shift at a big box store, and is getting her degree part time. She’s on Metro buses two and half hours a day because she can’t afford a car. She has midterms next week. And yet she was desperate to find a way to work for my candidate, because my candidate has worked so hard for her, and people like her. As we tried to find a way that she could help in spite of her crazy schedule, our conversation turned to the horror of some of the bills proposed in our legislature last term. Christy’s voice broke when she spoke of Richard “Stomp ‘em” Floyd, and suddenly I saw all of this in a different light. I’m pretty empathetic, and of course I had been horrified and outraged at Floyd’s hateful words, but I wasn’t hurt by them, as Christie was. Richard Floyd is an elected official of my home state, and he feels it’s okay to threaten violence against people different from him. He feels its okay to ridicule and slander the LGBT community. He uses his position to spew hatred, and his power to try to enshrine bigotry into our laws. His legislation is aimed at humiliating people like Christy, and his words are aimed at negating her right to exist. One of these people is a sick, festering sore on humanity, and it ISN’T the woman riding the bus home at dawn to crash for a couple of hours before going to classes, who only wants to be left in peace.
I am a straight ally, and I stand against state-sponsored bullying. I am a straight ally, and I stand against lawmakers who work to make bigotry and prejudice the law of the land. So today I’m wearing my awesome purple dress for Christy. I am working extra hard at getting my candidate elected. Christy is making phone calls for my candidate when she has a few minutes to spare in her crazy day. I am a straight ally, and I will do whatever I can to make my state a better place for all of its people.
 “Christy” is not her real name; I don’t know her personally, and so don’t want to say anything that could come back to hurt her. This is also why I’m not naming my candidate by name here; these are my opinions alone.