Views & Voices

No silence of the trans: Bigoted shouts losing ground in march toward equality

Ernest Istook

Ernest Istook AP

Former Oklahoma GOP Congressman Ernest Istook, a broadcaster and lawyer before entering Congress, has returned to broadcast and print journalism for the conservative press with a recent two-part analysis of the transgender community. He is not happy with the community’s social progress.

Ernest IstookAP

Ernest Istook

In his articles, Istook does nothing to educate his readers on the rights of transgender Americans. He does nothing to advance the debate on transgender inclusion and uses highly charged language to incite readers against the growing public demand for social justice and civil rights for transgender men and women.

Istook began his rant against transgender individuals by stating the transgender/gender identity movement is nothing more than government propaganda. Interestingly, Istook, since 2010, has been a Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School on the subject of Propaganda in American Politics.

“[G]overnment, media and the education establishment push hard to change us so that we conform to the transgender movement,” Kennedy Fellow Istook writes. Trans-friendly work places and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protections for transgender men and women are dangerous in Istook’s view. He does not, however, go as far as to call for a return of discrimination or more violence against this longsuffering and economically punished community.

Istook demonstrates his extreme political partisanship by harshly criticizing President Obama for issuing, in July, Executive Order 13672, that requires “gender identity” be respected by over 200,000 federal contractors. The EO will empower transgender employees and small business and a move pro-business Republicans, like Istook, should approve.

Another government initiative to assist transgender Americans, Medicare coverage of gender reassignment surgery, would be a hugely positive economic empowerment move for society, yet this also meets with Istook’s disapproval. Unsurprisingly, he also opposes military inclusion of “abnormal” transgender soldiers. I think it safe to say, Istook has no transgender friends and he is not open, so to speak, to having any. How can he hope to understand the community’s issues when he has no interaction with real men and women?

Istook told his readers he sees growing wide-scale opposition to the transgender movement because “the public is suddenly confronted with what’s been happening under the radar.” Under the radar?

Transgender people have been increasingly public since sexy Jaye Davidson stole the hearts of millions of men across the world as beautiful trans girl Dil in 1992’s The Crying Game. I suppose Istook saw that film as Obama’s propaganda also.

If Istook has heard the Silence of the Trans over the past 20 years, he is a damn poor social and media observer. He is also way too late to stop social justice for the transgender community.

Public education and workplace inclusion will lead to greater acceptance of transgender people in a country where everybody is important. Likely spillover benefits to society from broader transgender inclusion could include better sexual understanding between men and women and less violence against women.

If the idea of manhood changes from dinosaurs like macho John Wayne to gay Michael Sam, it would be a vastly needed social change. Of course, the beautiful liberated bodies, minds, and hearts of transgender men and women would make America true to its principles and its LGBT ancestors.

Istook’s critical take on social progress for the transgender community amounts to belatedly blowing the bigot’s horn. My late father, who served with the Alabama National Guard at the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, 50 years ago, heard the horns and shouts of bigots also.

Noise did not stop justice, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., hundreds of marchers, or hundreds of armed troops.

In the long march for civil rights, transgender men and women are on the road to victory despite occasionally ugly newspaper articles, bigoted shouts, or continued acts of violence. Ugliness can delay but not stop Justice.

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