Letter to the editor: Don’t wear prejudices as a badge

Published 1:25 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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To the editor:

I need to help reframe how we look at our transgender friends and neighbors. To start, I would first like to recall a lesson I was taught in church as a boy. I was handed a thick red sheet of paper and a sharp pencil. Then I was told “this paper represents your worst enemy, do what you like to it!” We naturally tore up the paper with the pencils. We were then instructed to turn the papers around. On the other side was a picture of Jesus Christ, ripped to shreds by our juvenile rage. The lesson was hands-on, simple, and effective: what pain you cause to those you dislike you also cause to those you love.

Keep this lesson in mind. Now, to move on to my specific point in writing this letter. People and politicians alike have shown great disgust for transgender people. Why? Have they ever met a transgender person? If they did and their impression was negative, why is the issue societal instead of personal? I have asked many questions but there are answers. These answers are likely not what one might expect. I have met some transgender people. I have transgender family members and friends. I love them dearly. I can tell you many things about them. What is most important to this letter is that they are people no different than someone who is not transgender. They have ambitions, anxieties, flaws, and everything that makes one unique. There is no privilege that I personally take for granted more than being able to look in the mirror and see myself as I should be looking back. Not everyone shares this privilege.

I will now return the lesson I was taught in church as a boy. Christ taught us to love our neighbors and was famously short on details of how to do so. Ostracizing our transgender friends and neighbors is an affront to being a welcoming community. There is nothing constructive to be gained by wearing prejudice as a badge of pride. Harm is spread like flames when hatred is held close where compassion should be, even if it is not obvious at first. I believe hatred of transgender people is hatred of all people. Embracing our friends and neighbors as they transition and have transitioned is the first step on the long walk towards making our world better. I hope you will walk it with me.

Andy Vernon