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What do I do now?

I have been very down these last 12 months. I really did not see much point in “keeping on keeping on.” But like so many of us, I am deeply troubled by the results of yesterday’s election. I worry about my daughter’s family – what does their future look like now? And I am especially worried about my granddaughter, Ellie, who is just 27 months old. So I am going to reinvigorate myself and rededicate myself to not leave this world until I do something positive to make the world a bit better for my little Ellie. I don’t know exactly what I will or can do. But I think I begin with a realistic assessment of what we have to deal with because of the president-elect.
An American Tragedy – The New Yorker

This is my fear: Libertarian and Green Party candidates taking votes from Hillary but not Trump!

Guts, Glory, and thinking ahead.

a-first lieutI have a number of younger trans folk on my friends list. And some of them are righteous in their indignation about the increasing number of people, some trans and others not, that are being called out as they attempt to use the bathroom of their choice. I’ve responded and, in some cases, been shouted down by young trans people.

I know many young trans folk, like all young people, know better than their “elders.” But I’m trying to make a point that could be important, if not lifesaving.

Back during the Vietnam war, we initially forgot the lessons of WWII and Korea and officers proudly wore the insignia of their rank. Enemy snipers quickly realized that those flashes of gold and silver on helmets meant a high-value target and we lost far too many officers. When I entered that war, I was advised to remove my rank before venturing into combat. Only much later did the military hierarchy begin issuing “camo” rank indicators, which are now standard.

If you want to challenge the gender binary, then have at it. Just make sure to carry ID that will back up your claim to the bathroom of your choosing. If you don’t have such ID, then make arrangements for a responsible friend to be ready to bail you out quickly if you are accosted and arrested. Unless, of course, you want to make some “points” by spending the night in jail with a possibly unfriendly jail populace.

Further, particularly in the crazy south, be aware that your accuser may just be carrying a gun and could resort to using it if you resist leaving the bathroom he (most probably a he) thinks you do not belong in. Don’t actively resist.

Just saying, that’s all.

 

Just Keep Your Mouth Shut!

A friend writes a column on a local news site. Today she wrote one warning us all to shrink from confrontations in the public because of guns: “Assume everybody’s packing heat”

I am disappointed.

gun nuts 2And so it has come to this – sage advice from an Alabama gun supporter: Just shut your mouth and slink away from any and all potential confrontations. Don’t stand up for your rights or your family because the opposing party may and probably is carrying a gun. And that person just may decide to settle the argument by shooting you.

How is this possible? How can we allow our society to be so dominated by gun-rights nuts that everyone must start packing their own gun and be ready to use it at the drop of a hat? How is it that no one seems to realize that encouraging this will inevitably lead to more gun deaths, and not just the primary protagonists, but also many innocent people who just happen to be in the field of fire.

What she is recommending is giving up your right to free speech. What she is recommending is giving up your right to enjoy a night out at a restaurant and engaging in a spirited debate of today’s issues. What she is recommending is going to a football game but not wearing your team colors or cheering when the opposing team screws up. What she is recommending, if you are a teacher, is not covering both sides of an issue and instead playing to the themes of the dominant group. What she is recommending is always pulling over into the slowest lane of traffic, and getting yourself blocked in, even if you are passing cars but not moving as fast as the fastest cars.

What she is recommending is to become passive and afraid of life because we have given in to the gun-nuts, the NRA, and the gun manufacturers who foment this just to keep selling more guns.

Just too much hate

hateI have to admit I am angry.

I am one of those “freaks” who you do not want sharing a bathroom with your daughter.

I have worked a job essentially every day since I turned 16. I did all the things republicans preach you should do so that you are not a “leech” on society. I came from a lower middle-class family that could not afford to send me to college. I studied hard in school, played sports, participated in civic activities, went to church, and eventually won a scholarship to the University of Alabama and a congressional appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. Because we were then (and still are) in war, I chose the latter. I wanted to serve our country.

And I did. But I became frustrated by the politicians running the war and costing my friends lives. I left the Air Force and used the GI Bill to get a master’s degree. I found a job with a good company in Mobile and worked my way up from the drafting board to the board of directors of a large environmental engineering firm. I worked on or led many engineering projects that still are important, functional parts of the infrastructure in many cities in Mobile and Baldwin counties, and, indeed, across many southern states. But my boss found out I was trans and kicked me out of the company, destroying my financial stability and even my ability to get another job in engineering. I was blackballed for being “queer.”

After I graduated from the Air Force Academy, I got married to a wonderful woman, had a daughter who has out-shown me in her accomplishments and who now is a mother to the most perfect child of her own. I am still her father and grandparent to her perfect baby. But the love of my life divorced me, and continues to drive a wedge between my daughter and myself. I have not spent Christmas or birthdays with my daughter for almost 20 years. I know she loves me and is torn between her mother and me. But it hurts so very much.

To republicans and many so-called Christians, I am a freak who should not be allowed to use a public bathroom. I am a freak that can be refused service, a job, a place to live, just because I don’t fit their idea of a ‘normal’ person. Ted Cruz’s Christian supporters even believe it should be legal to murder freaks like me.

Though I was never afraid all the time I was serving in the Air Force, flying F4’s during the Vietnam War, I am now afraid.

And my closest friends, who are republican and will vote for either Trump or Cruz, don’t understand why I am afraid.

Although we freaks have made tremendous gains these past seven years, all could, and, most likely will, be washed away if a republican is elected president.

I have seen the dominos begin to fall, beginning with Kansas where they have placed a bounty on the heads of trans people, to North Carolina and Mississippi where they have passed terrible hate laws in the name of ‘religious’ freedom, to Louisiana, where the republicans have introduced a bill that doubles down on NC and MS and specifically targets overturning the LGBT anti-discrimination laws in NOLA. How can Alabama fail to follow suit?

Soon I will not be able to legally use a public bathroom in my home state. Thanks to my local probate judge, who told me that he would not accept my petition to change the sex marker on my birth certificate unless it was prepared and presented by a lawyer, I have not been able to afford to get my birth certificate to match my social security card and passport.

I have turned 70 this past December. My life is more behind me than in front of me. I wonder why I keep fighting to stay alive.

I went back to school after losing my engineering career, thinking I could get a Ph.D. and a job teaching. But I had not reckoned on the age discrimination that exists in universities. They will always take a young new Ph.D. in preference to a 65-year-old new Ph.D. every time. And, of course, being a trans-freak does not help.

When I was on the board of BCM Engineers, I helped to get the company to give a scholarship to Auburn’s Civil Engineering school. I got my masters there, served on the school’s board of visitors for almost 10 years, but was told that they would not accept me into their doctoral program because of my age. At least, they were honest.

So here I am at 70. A freak. Working multiple jobs as an adjunct for a pittance but enough to keep me off welfare.

And I am so very tired.

Sometimes I think the hate I see coming is just too much to endure.

But I will stand up and fight. I will not go quietly.

Gerrymandering – Time to end it.

I watched President Obama’s talk to the Illinois Legislature yesterday and, among his points, was a call to stop the gerrymandering that is so predominant in our partisan country. Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing the voting district lines to ensure the desired outcome. Usually, that means republicans draw the lines to help republicans get elected and democrats draw them to help democrats get elected. That is nothing new on the political scene as it has been practiced a long time.

300px-The_Gerry-Mander_EditThis political cartoon, published in 1812, depicts the result of the Massachusetts legislature efforts to favor the incumbent Democratic-Republican party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists in 1812.

If you look at Alabama’s current legislative districts (https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting_in_Alabama), you will see many if not most of our districts look very similar to the gerrymander cartoon. The same is true in most states. (more…)

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