Social Justice

Human rights. Above all else.

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity” – Nelson Mandela

President Donald Trump’s most recent proposal banning transgender service personnel, will have a much deeper impact than, I believe, even he realizes. 

LGBT rainbow flagThe LGBT+ and its at-large community has vowed opposition to this discriminatory ban, as politicians and activists alike are posturing for a showdown. As a cisgender (non-transgender), gay married man, who is a father to young twin girls, I can’t help but feel personally attacked, targeted, singled out. 

My rights as a gay man, as a father, have never been as equal as my straight co-citizens’ privileges. As a gay father, the courts still don’t see my husband and I as equal parents to our biological children—because there is no mother. 

But I digress. 

This isn’t about me; it isn’t about gays. 

It is about human decency. It is about gender. It’s about our transgender brothers and sisters. These are people that are all around you. They serve your food. They cut your hair. They fly your planes. They operate on your hearts and lungs. They save your lives. They fight for your freedoms and die for their country. I did. And they have always been there.

People are angry and rightfully so. They are also making this political and rightfully so. However, I’m not wholly disappointed with our ignorant politicians…they are the animals in a frenetic zoo posturing for powerful positions — that system hasn’t changed in 200 years. 

I think I’m disappointed with my friends, family, colleagues, and myself, for not really understanding how deeply this has torn at our relationships. Right here and now, this rhetoric is tearing apart friendships, is dividing families, and is, quite frankly, threatening the safety of this country. 

People have told me that this is just about policy, that they don’t want their tax dollars going to pay for something that they have no interest in supporting. But this is about more than just taxes. People are scared, indifferent, theologically opposed to the concept, to the idea, that while we as humans can each be individually unique, that we must all somehow align our beliefs and authentic living within someone else’s version of what that means. Thus, diluting what we mean by human rights.

If you know someone who is transgender, please talk to them, honestly and openly, for as long as they want and as much as they are willing to share. 

Figure out how to become an ally, and learn what it means to be an ally. 

Use your privilege to help protect them and try to create a safe environment for them. Transgender people have historically been ignored, encouraged to hide, and made to feel as outcasts, while people and organizations in power continue to chip away at their human rights. 

As a group, transgender people have the highest rate of suicide and the highest rate of targeted violence, all of which continues to be systemically encouraged by a society that, frankly, doesn't seem to care. 

Luckily, we do have some resources to help allies learn. Organizations such as The Transgender Law Center, The Los Angeles LGBT Center and the Transgender American Veterans Association are a good first step to learn about the needs, disparities, and veracious lives of transgender people. 

Immerse yourself by going to a rally. 

Write to your senators. 

Join a Facebook page. 

Stand up for others as you would stand up for your own self.

We will heal. We will find the right way to work through this. We must not only keep talking to each other, we must also listen to each other. But we must remain kind, yet when talking politics, the gloves often fly off and bruise egos. We don’t want to lose our sense of civility. 

Try to have a nice conversation. 

And if this doesn’t work, then I recommend running for office.

Patric Shine, DNPPatric Schine, DNP, is an assistant professor and director of the Family Nurse Practice Program at Brandman University’s Marybelle and S. Paul Musco School of Nursing and Health Professions. He completed his Doctor of Nursing Practice from Arizona State University, focusing on the education, teaching and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. He earned his MSN/FNP in nursing from the University of Phoenix and his B.A. in English from Arizona State University. Schineserved in the United States Air Force from 1986-1990. 

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