I am sitting down to write with a heavy heart tonight. I’m attempting to get more regular with these blog posts. I’m wanting to tackle some other creative, and hopefully meaningful, ventures in the coming months, but I feel the need to successfully and reliably manage the things that I have going on now before I take on other commitments. For now, I am aiming to put out one social commentary piece sometime around mid-week and then add a new piece to The Full Production version of my story each Sunday.
So, the plan for this week has been to reflect a bit more on these religious freedom laws that continue to rear their ugly heads. I also wanted to comment on this interesting phenomenon of corporate America and the role that they are playing in the shaping of public policy. I love seeing them come to the defense of the LGBTQ community, but I also wonder about how I would feel if there is an issue in the future where they are not on my side. I was excited to explore this idea of corporate American as almost another branch of government and what that might mean for the future, but then something happened. I read a headline on Facebook that stopped me in my tracks and made me feel like someone punched me in stomach: ‘Missing Transgender Woman Found Dead In ‘Crude Grave’ in NorthCarolina.’
Elisha Walker, a 20-year-old transgender woman was found dead. My mind was sickened at the legalization of discrimination that has been recently written into the state’s laws. Of course, the state of North Carolina does not say that it is legal to murder someone and abandon their body in a shallow grave, but what the law does say is that some people are less worthy of legal protections. It says that it is okay for some people to be called out as different, asked to prove their worthiness to use a public restroom, and punished if they do not comply. The message is clear that some people are valued less than others.
When I first noted this story, I was in the middle of my day. While it did cause me to pause, I didn’t have the time at that moment to dive into the story. Also, I know me. If I react to or write about something that impacts me emotionally, it is best to put it aside in that moment; because, the reaction that comes out of me at that time is likely to not be honoring to me or the person or issue that I am trying to call attention to. I marked the story to save it and to make sure that I’d be able to find it later tonight.
Tonight, as I looked through the story, I noted that it was a story from August of last year. Given that it could not be a direct result of recent the legislation in North Carolina, I though that maybe I should write about something else. The more I thought about it though, I decided that it should be written about. Whether this woman’s life was tragically lost before or after the bill, it is clear that there is a cultural or social standard in North Carolina that, at least for this person, said it was okay to do what they did. Also, this article called attention to other transgender individuals: Shade Shuler, a 22-year-old from Dallas, TX; Amber Moore, 20, who was shot and killed in Michigan; and Kandis Capri, 35, who was shot dead in Phoenix.
Statistically, transgender persons have far more reasons to be fearful of cis gendered persons than the other way around. I am reminded of a story that I read years ago when I was first becoming comfortable with myself. It was written by Randy Roberts Potts, the openly gay grandson of Oral Roberts. In the article, Randy wrote about how things are always darkest during these movements and efforts for human rights just before good things happen, that the fear of loosing control brings those who have been dominant and don’t want to yield up their control to the point of desperation. I sincerely pray that the hearts of those who believe such laws are needed and just would find their hearts and their convictions softened and that they would allow love to speak through them by creating spaces that allow for openness and honest communication as opposed to hostility, fear, and ignorance.
~ Josh "Culbs" Culbertson