I’d like to talk about disgust. You know, that feeling that makes you go “Eww” or makes your skin crawl when you see something. We have all had it. Most of us start out with that feeling about bodily liquids for example, but as any parent of a newborn knows, you have to power through it. Nurses and other caretakers have had to learn to ignore it or work through it in order to do their jobs. I have it myself and for example cannot watch blood coming out my arm during a blood test. Others can be triggered by many other things.

I live in Texas these days where the legislature concerns itself with things like drag shows and LGBT issues instead of doing something that would actually help the citizens of Texas. The concern with drag shows has been especially enlightening since dressing up as a different gender has been such a common occurrence in our society. Even entertainers from Milton Berle to Flip Wilson, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot, Tom Hanks in Bosom Buddies, have appeared in drag in mainstream media, in movies and television. Some of the very legislators who now rail loudest about drag shows have at some time in the past dressed in drag themselves. Of course, they do so because they see some political advantage in so doing. They don’t see themselves as hypocrites because they draw a distinction between a straight person occasionally dressing in drag and a homosexual or transvestite dressing in drag. It is these non-gender conforming people who create that eww feeling of disgust in the politicians and they hope in their constituents. It is the same with the legislators’ interest in banning or limiting gender conversion therapies, medicines and surgeries. Surely this is an issue for individuals, parents, psychotherapists, and doctors to decide, not politicians. Again, it is that eww feeling of disgust toward people who challenge existing gender categories that the politicians have (or at least pretend to have) and hope that enough people who hold such a feeling will vote for them. National polls and even state polls indicate that only a minority of people feel this way enough to think that the rights of others should be curtailed. Politicians argue that they are upholding community standards that have gone to hell in the nation beyond Texas as such standards have in their view “declined.” They applaud the imaginary good old days when men were men, women knew their place, and the government (and its laws) viewed LGBT people as immoral. They cite ancient religious texts, Chrisian evangelical churches, and even the Catholic Church as supporting their views on LGBT people. They argue that it will “Make America Great Again.”

The question to ask is not whether it is right to have this eww feeling about LGBT people, but is it right to base public policy on our eww feelings? Decades of conservative policy has argued that it is not right for the government to interfere in personal matters like this no matter how one feels about them. The current Republican party has thrown this conservative tenet out the window. The obsession with abortion and transgender medicine has argued that it is indeed the duty of the government to interfere in such personal matters in the name of moral standards that are held by politicians and (they presume) by the people who will re-elect them. As a black person I cannot help but think of this without comparing it to the racial history of this country. During slavery, Jim Crow, and racial segregation, many felt that black folks were less than human in fact animalistic in their behavior. Many still do. This created that eww feeling when thinking of blacks voting, black males having sex with white women (though curiously not the reverse,) black behavior which did not show the proper subservience, and recognition of white superiority. The result was not only legislation restricting black rights, but violence against black folk. I am not saying that the curtailment of LGBT rights will inevitably go down the same road, however I do note that violence against LGBT people has increased over the last few years as has violence against black folks, non-Christians, and Asian people.

Most of the proposed legislation has not reached the law stage yet. I not only think this proposed legislation is wrong, curtails LGBT rights, and expands the reach of government, it is actually dangerous and harms many innocent people.

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