By Lance Chilton
In honor of my trans grandchild, Happy Pride Month! Happy are we that they and we don’t live in Texas! And even happier that we and they live in New Mexico.
Why call out Texas, among other (at least temporarily) red states that are restricting the rights of trans individuals? Well, its ruby-red-meat Republican governor, Greg Abbott, playing to his intolerant base, directed that state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to open child abuse investigations into parents who pursue gender-affirming health care for their trans children. Whether that would hold up in court is anyone’s guess, but that it could even be considered is a travesty in our mostly tolerant society.
Meanwhile, what is New Mexico doing? In 2017, Senate Bill 12, introduced by two Democratic senators, outlawed the mistaken and fully debunked “conversion therapy,” which claimed to be able to turn sexually nonconforming people “normal” through counseling. In 2021, by contrast, five Republican New Mexico state representatives introduced House Bill 304, the so-called Women’s Sports Protection Act, which would have discriminated against trans women in sports, and has been passed by several other states, including Idaho. Idaho and other red states and our four stalwart, misdirected Republicans here are simply doing the bidding of the far-right American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in this discrimination. The bill went nowhere. New Mexico boasts a number of openly gay and Lesbian legislators–they have many interests, among them preserving the rights of gender-nonconforming young and older people.
I’m worried about my grandchild, and their mother is too. Not that they will undergo treatment to effect a change in body to match their orientation (we’re happy to support it), but because there are many roadblocks along the way to acceptance. The incidence of substance abuse and of suicide is much higher than among those of us in the majority in our sexual orientation.
We’ve introduced our grandchild to the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico (see www.trgnm.org) for counseling and their mother, our daughter, to that excellent resource’s family support, so that she can know she’s not alone and also so that she will be aware of the signs of distress she can watch for in her child before anything becomes urgent. The center’s website includes a nationwide list of providers as well as support groups. TGRC has also helped me work through the pronouns–I hope I’ve been correct in this article in identifying my grandchild universally as “they.”
On Sunday morning, June 5, I’ll ride my bike alongside others celebrating Pride Month and, in my case, my grandchild. The ride will start from the National Hispanic Cultural Center at 9 a.m. I don’t know if I’ll decide to identify myself there as I am–straight–but I know I will celebrate the right of everyone to be protected and happy, whether trans, gay, Lesbian, queer, other gender-nonconforming or straight. Just a month before another holiday is celebrated, “We [will] hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [women/] men [/transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”