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Parents of transgender kids need a time out

by Jim Longworth

Idon’t know exactly who decided that the lesbian, gay and bisexual movement needed to add the word “transgender” to its moniker, but I’d like to give him/her a piece of my mind. For years now, the LGB community has struggled to achieve equal treatment under the law. To be free of workplace discrimination. To be recognized as family members when their partners are in hospital.

And to have the right to marry. Theirs has not been an easy fight, but one which was worth undertaking. Moreover, lesbians, gays and bisexuals simply wanted to be recognized for who they are. They never asked for special treatment, special facilities or taxpayer monies to support their lifestyle.

Not so with the transgender community, which seems more concerned with publicity and threats than with fair treatment. And parents of transgender children are the worst of this lot.

Case in point, the Mathis family of Colorado. Eight-yearold Coy decided that he wanted to be a girl, so his parents allowed him to grow his hair long and wear dresses to school. But the enabling didn’t stop there. Mr. and Mrs. Mathis demanded that Coy be allowed to use the girls bathroom, or else they would take legal action. School officials pointed out that since Coy has a penis, he is still a boy, and it wouldn’t be fair to other students to let him use the girls’ restroom.

In the spirit of cooperation, however, the school principal offered Coy the use of the nurse’s private bathroom, but that wasn’t good enough for Mr. and Mrs. Headline Seekers. No, they still demanded that Coy be allowed to use the girls bathroom. The school refused their idiotic request, so Coy’s parents hired an attorney and filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. Since then, the Mathis family has made the talk-show circuit, given scores of interviews and become media darlings. Pardon me while I go to a gender-appropriate bathroom and throw up.

I’m sorry, but this type of transgender grandstanding gets under my skin. For one thing, it exploits and diminishes the struggle of millions of gay and lesbian persons by claiming a right to be identified with that struggle. That’s as offensive as the white rednecks who say that Martin Luther King fought for their right to fly the Confederate flag. I’m also angry be-cause the last thing our budget-strapped schools need is to spend taxpayer dollars fighting transgender litigation, and building or adapting facilities which they don’t need.

Unfortunately the Mathis circus isn’t an isolated incident. In fact, hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear of another little boy who says he wants to be a little girl, and vice versa. And it’s mostly being driven by publicityseeking, nutcase parents. Hey, when I was 6 years old I wanted to be Wilt Chamberlain and Superman, but my parents had the good sense not to let me to dye my skin or leap off of a tall building. Kids that age don’t know what they want, or what’s good for them, and that goes for kids whose parents say their child wants to be transgender. Today those boys and girls are being thrust into the limelight by parents whose crusade is buoyed by the American Psychiatric Association’s decision to remove “gender identity disorder” from its list of mental-health illnesses, and by recent rulings such as the one by the Massachusetts Department of Education who ordered that schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms, and play on sports teams in the gender to which they identify. Currently 16 states and the District of Columbia have transgender rights laws on the books, and in most of the remaining states, local school boards are already making policy changes in order to meet the demands of transgender parents rather than go to court.

Speaking of which, not long after the February 2013 Massachusetts DOE ruling, the Massachusetts Family Institute was vocal about the way schools are acquiescing to unreasonable demands by pushy parents of transgender tots. Speaking for MFI, attorney Andrew Beckwith told the Associated Press, “Boys need to use boys restrooms and girls need to use girls restrooms, and we base that on their anatomical sex, not some sort of internalized gender identity.” Beckwith also warned that such policies put transgender kids at higher risk for “peer ostracism, victimization, and bullying.” In other words, the same way the rest of us feel when bullied by parents of transgender kids.

In a related item, last week a school in Milwaukee held “Gender Bender Day” where boys dressed up as girls, and girls dressed up as boys. Now if we can just get parents of transgender children to dress up as parents.

JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11am on WMYV (cable channel 15).

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