I try to get away from talking politics here, trying to focus on my research and my job and personal projects. But when the state government is intent on taking away your livelihood, your rights, and even your very existence, sometimes you gotta speak up about it. I’m a writer. It’s what I do. I do various organizing things locally, but the thing that makes me feel the most accomplished is writing something.
So today I want to tell you about a Florida Senate Bill that has been filed and is introducing a lot of anxiety into my life, SB254 filed by Jacksonville state senator Clay Yarborough. When I first read the article about it, and then went and read the bill itself, I thought that while it was bad, the “take children from trans parents” bit was hyperbole. The text of the bill itself was bad, certainly. But it said
granting courts of thisFL SB 254 – 2023 Session
state temporary emergency jurisdiction over children
present in this state if they are at risk of or are
being subjected to the provision of sex-reassignment
prescriptions or procedures
So this was bad enough, and made my heart hurt for all the trans kids who would be forced to wait until they were 18 to begin transition, even if they had accepting parents.
But then I began thinking about it more, and talking about it with people, and reading more coverage, I realized that the weasel-wording of the bill made it an actual imminent threat to families like mine. Because that “at risk of” receiving gender affirming care is very broad. It could mean swooping in and removing the child if they had an appointment with a transition doctor, but before they actually began transition. But you have to think like the right-wing fascists who write these bills as well. Because they believe that trans people are out there forcibly transitioning every kid they come across. They call us “groomers” and say that we’re forcing kids into “gender ideology”. So to them, the mere presence of a trans person in a child’s life puts that child “at risk” of transition. The presence of say…a sibling…or a parent.
And this is where I began to really panic a bit. Because you see, Monday I had my first appointment with a new doctor to explore going on T. The appointment went well, and within a couple weeks I should be able to start my regimen. While this is all very exciting personally, it also makes my transition more traceable. I’m vocally out, online and off, because I’ve always refused to hide who I am. But now my status as a trans nonbinary person has an official paper trail. Which could be used by the state to take my 11 year old son away from me. I have no intentions of “making” him transition (whatever that means, since the hoops that are set up before you transition are such that nobody can really “make” another person transition, not even a child). I don’t particularly believe my son is trans either, though it is certainly not outside the realm of possibility, and of course if he is I will love and support him always. But now the government of the state I live, vote, and pay taxes in is trying to say I am a danger to my own son, on par with the worst abuse.
On the one hand, I’m offended. I, who works so hard every single day to be the mom my son needs, to make sure he is happy and healthy and well adjusted, am now to be accused of child abuse? When they cared not one bit when my own father beat me, or when an older male cousin tried to molest me and succeeded in molesting my baby sister? Really? You’re really going to say to a child-abuse survivor who had to survive alone with only the help of my mom and NO institutional help that I’m too dangerous to raise my own son? The government really feels comfortable saying that to my face?
On the other hand, this legislation mostly just makes me terrified. The legislation has been getting progressively worse and worse, and making me worry for my younger trans siblings, made me worried for the stability of my job, made me worry for my rights to free expression. But this is the first one that really hits me right at my weakest (and strongest) point. I have always said that I would fight anything and anyone for my son. If this legislation actually comes to pass and they start removing children and come for my family, I will fight tooth and nail all the way to the Supreme Court if I have to. I have the connections and the knowledge to know who to turn to for help. But even the idea terrifies me. I am poor and disabled, and trying to take on a state government is a herculean task. Even more importantly, I don’t want that disruption and trauma for my son. He deserves to have as normal of a childhood as I can provide him, not one where he becomes a figurehead in a fight against fascism. If I had the ability, I would take him and flee the state right now, but I am stuck here by circumstances and so…panic has been my recent friend.
I have a family and a community that supports my transition, and will stand by me through whatever the fascists can throw at me. I’m very very lucky. Too many trans parents are struggling with little family or community support, and now they are facing a profound threat to the safety of their family and children. People always say they must restrict our rights to “protect the children”. But where is their concern for the children whose lives they would destroy by removing them from beloved and loving families to go into a broken foster care system? Where is their concern for the children who will kill themselves because they are forced to not be their full selves? It’s nowhere, because when they say children, they don’t mean real children, they mean imaginary children who can be used to promote their own bigoted agendas.
And I’m fucking sick of the lies. They’re not trying to protect my child with this, they’re trying to destroy his life and his mental health. And they’re doing it in order to try to force me out of existence.
I won’t stand for it.