Call It What It Is
I promised myself that this week would be an art week. My goal was to do weekly themes for my hobbies to prevent myself from chaotically starting and not finishing different projects.
However, the Vergennes high school in Vermont has decided to host Walt Heyer in their auditorium next week, so writing week is starting a little early. Who is Walt? He gets his claim-to-fame for spending eight years as a trans woman and “regretting it.” I put this in quotes not to undermine his own experience, but to highlight how he’s since framed that regret to destabilize all trans people and their personal reasons for seeking transition.
Of course, the alt-right conservatives, bent on the annihilation of anything outside their limited world view, are lapping this up as if Walt’s story is the motif for anyone who’s considering (or has sought) transition.
I don’t need to even begin to describe why this is dangerous. Yet, the Vergennes school district claims their hands are tied legally and that canceling it invites litigation, specifically under the umbrella of “limiting free speech.”
A missive went out to the community to call and write emails to the Vergennes school system. I wrote an email and reproduced here to help others speak out against blatant forms of transphobia in their own districts.
Trigger warnings for transphobia and suicide mentions.
Hello, my name is Eiven and I am emailing you regarding the transphobic event being held at Vergennes high school on June 20th. Like many who are emailing or calling you now about this, I'm urging you to cancel the event. To echo the words of a U.S. politician in an overwhelmingly transphobic state, by limiting the rights of transgender youth (and in this case, actively allowing the hateful screeds to be vomited in their high school auditorium), you will have blood on your hands. Almost one in two gender non-conforming youth commit suicide. Stop and think about that for a second. Picture the faces of your students who are not cis-gender. Cross out half of them. Hosting this event, given the poisonous rhetoric happening in our country, is nothing short of cruel and irresponsible. You can say your hands are tied, but that's a cop-out for a larger, uglier truth. As a transgender person who has to think about these uglier sides of reality regularly, I don't want to have to subject myself to spelling it out for you. My peers and I wonder whether we will get shot or deliberately run over by cars just for existing. We walk out of our apartments and get bombarded with verbal abuse simply for breathing. We are adults, and need your help, but ultimately are at a stage where we can rely on each other to keep ourselves safe. These kids? They have you. And you're failing them. Your job as a superintendent is the well-being of _all_ of your students. If you can't do that by asking this bitter, harmful person from using your institution as a platform, you should consider resigning. By allowing him to speak isn't "free speech" - it's an attack. It's like letting a bear face a toddler in a wrestling match. Even though I'm not in your district, I will join my trans siblings in your school system in championing for their rights as human beings. If it means showing up the day of the event to hold them when you've let them fall through the cracks, then so be it. But I seriously hope you consider extending your hand and pulling them out of the darkness. It threatens to swallow all of us in the coming years. Prominent research groups are calling the attitude towards transgender folks a genocide. [a] You have a chance to help prevent that from happening. Thank you for listening.
Please stay safe out there. Protect trans kids.
[a]: I linked this directly but since I put this in code format to tell the difference between the post and the letter, I’ll put the link here.