I don’t need you to worry for me ’cause I’m alright
I don’t want you to tell me it’s time to come home
I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life
Go ahead with your own life leave me alone.~Billy Joel, My Life
Today’s social media is being dominated by the confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary of Health. The comments have been most cruel. Dr. Levine is highly qualified for the position. But that’s not what people are talking about. Dr. Levine is transgender. Apparently, genitalia determines if a person is qualified.
It was hard reading the comments where people said Dr. Levine is confused. That she supports pre-puberty gender decisions. People imply Dr. Levine is mentally ill and should not be in a position of trust. The improper use pronouns by people is disgusting. I find the use of “it” to describe a person particularly wrong. Dr. Levine is female. She is highly qualified for the job. The ignorance in the comments shows how fully soaked in discrimination toward non-binary individuals our society is.
As more people realize their identities, we “straight” people need to rethink how we treat others. In 1992, I was teaching in Virginia. I had an 8-year-old child tell me to call him “Roach” because his father said he was a cockroach. Words hurt. Words matter. We can do so much better.
Respect is a start. Follow that with educating yourself about non-binary identities. Respect other’s choices to live their truth. If you truly cannot bring yourself to use the correct pronouns, addressing someone by their name is a solution to your dilemma.
Think about what you want to say. Is it harmful? Would you want to be called by the pronoun on your lips? Change is hard for many. Imagine undergoing a major life change when people refuse to even try and respect someone who isn’t exactly like you.
Dr. Levine has the opportunity to show “straight” people that it’s your brain and how you use it that qualify you for a job. I think she’s going to do a fantastic job. Stop peeking under bathroom stalls and let everyone live their truth.