“Keep our state straight.”-Buck Newton, recycling Jesse Helm’s fear

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I have the dubious pleasure of hailing from the same community as Republican candidate for North Carolina Attorney General, Buck Newton.  In a now notorious speech, Mr. Newton suggested that we, “keep our state straight”.  Prior to those closing words he states,

“We all have sympathy for those who are having a difficult time because we all know folks who’ve had a difficult time.  Whether folks are struggling with drugs, struggling with their marriages, figuring what they’re supposed to be doing in life.  We can all have sympathy for that but that does not mean we should expose our wives, our sisters and our children to the sexual predators in the bathrooms.”

 

I find the comparison between drug addiction and being born transgender supremely misinformed. Mirroring the removal of homosexuality from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders) in 1973, transgenderism was removed as a disorder in the recent fifth edition.  Instead, today it is referred to as Gender Identity Dysphoria, which essentially states that one’s gender does not align with their biological sex.

What many, who insist on thinking in a polar manner about gender and sex do not realize is, in addition to Gender Identity Dysphoria, 1.7% of humans are born intersexed, i.e., born with a variation of both male and female anatomy.  Even today, due to our generalized discomfort with ambiguity of all types, intersexed infants quickly have their sex arbitrarily chosen by physicians and parents prior to irreversible surgical alteration of their genitalia. While 1.7% is a small number, persons with Aspergers, like myself, make up a scant 0.71% of the population.  At a full percentage point lower, those born with Aspergers are still looked upon with less shame than those born intersexed, even though, unlike Aspergers, there is immediate physical evidence.

Combine the bias against those with overt physical symptoms with widespread rejection of overwhelming data suggesting being born transgender is simply an inevitable variance in the expression of human genetics and you get the mess we find ourselves in today. Drug abuse is an illness as well and should be treated as such.  However, a person can make an effort to curb and treat their symptoms, as drug abuse is unnecessary for continued life.  In contrast, gender is an essential part of the human experience.

At the end of his speech, Buck made his now infamous statement, “keep our state straight.”  What surprises me is that no one has made the connection between this statement and Buck’s first foray into politics, as an aide to NC Senator Jesse Helms in the early 1980’s.  Mr. Helms was an unabashed segregationist and all around awful human being.  I mention this because the play Buck Newton is mounting is a repackaged oldie.  In 1950, Mr. Helms stated during a speech,

“White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories? Frank Graham favors mingling of the races.”

Buck has done nothing more than change the sexual boogeyman man from, “Negroes” to the transgender community.  While you weren’t looking, the true intent of HB2 has gone unnoticed. It removes the ability of individual communities from extending employment protections to the LGBT community.  Even though gay people now have the right to marry, simply publishing marriage announcements or sharing photos of a honeymoon could result in economic destitution.  Essentially, it’s a move to keep those still in the closet, firmly in place.  In addition, the law prevents local governments from raising their minimum wage.  With this, the economic elite get the continued benefit of generalized ignorance because if you’re working eighty hours a week to afford a studio apartment in Charlotte or Raleigh you won’t have the time to invest in educating yourself about, or opposing, the very laws that keep you in your economic station.

Truthfully, transgendered individuals have been using the bathroom next to our female family members for decades, you just didn’t realize it as many pass, combined with the fact that females use individual stalls. With all the hemming and hawing about the presumed weakness of females, the truth of restroom sexual assault has been ignored. Boys are the ones who are most often violated in public restrooms by men. Those men are already in there with your sons but not a peep has been made about keeping them apart. HB2, which is practically unenforceable, does not reduce the risk of sexual assault or physical violence, in fact, it increases it.  How?; by the diversion of attention from the risk posed to boys and the encouragement of vigilantism against individuals presenting as female who are now forced to relieve themselves in an incongruent facility.

Buck, I would have assumed that politicians in the south would have learned a lesson or two about bathroom policing during the civil right era, but alas, I was overly generous when it comes to you and your bases’ capacity for historical awareness.  Move over George Wallace, you’re getting company.

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