Arkansas politicians, well, to be fair, Arkansas GQP anti-LGBTQ+, transphobic politicians, are continuing their war on our trans brothers and sisters because … ignorance, hate, fear, stupidity.
Last week the Arkansas Legislature passed House Bill 1749, which would prohibit hormone treatments, puberty blockers and transition-related surgeries for transgender minors, and for a hot minute it looked like the bill would fail when Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed it, but then the GQP-controlled legislature overrode the veto.
Now before you congratulate Hutchinson for being an ally, he also said that while he did not like the bill, he didn’t believe anyone under eighteen should be allowed to have gender reassignment surgery, so, yeah, not a friend.
And now it appears the GQP feels emboldened to continue their war on trans Americans, because they also passed a bill that says teachers would not be required to address students by a name or pronoun inconsistent with the student's biological sex.
The House's 62-21 vote—mostly along party lines—sends the measure to the Senate. Two lawmakers voted present, and 14 didn't vote; fourteen sat on their hands. But, in a surprise move, two Republicans, Frances Cavenaugh and Jeff Wardlaw, voted no.
So, there are some in the party who see this bill for what it is: hate.
It all began when GQP Representative Mary Bentley, who sponsored the bill, claimed some teachers had raised concerns to her about students who have changed their name or pronoun several times in a year, or use three different names in as many classrooms, and fear that they'll be sued for not addressing the child by their preferred name or pronoun:
"It's not compelling anyone's speech. It's not prohibiting anyone's speech. It's helping those professors and teachers in our schools that do not want to be sued for not using a certain person's pronoun.”
Really, Mary? I remember being in school, and on the first day being addressed as Robert, and telling my teachers to call me Bob; it’s not hard to call people by their names, and really not so hard to learn a person’s pronouns. And it’s not so hard to remember he/him, she/her, or they/them.
Democratic lawmaker, the aptly named Fred Love says that intentionally not referring to someone by what they want to be called is "one of the most disrespectful things that you can do:
"That's one of the simplest decencies that we can give someone. ... That's not hard. That's not difficult. That's just a bit of decency and a bit of respect and I think that's what we need to do."
But then GQP Representative Mark Lowery told a story about a "male student who wanted to be called by a female name" and was referred to that way by teachers, even though the student’s parents would only address the student by the birth name. That’s tough; but even Lowery admits that this new Hate Bill does “not specifically address the example I'm giving you.”
So, let’s go back to Mary Bentley, who pulled out that old chestnut about students changing their name between classes or asking to be identified as an animal:
"We have a real issue in our state, and I need our districts to take a look at this and do more than this bill does. This bill is just a first step to help protect our teachers but when we have students in school now that don't identify as a boy or a girl but as a cat, as a furry, we have issues."
Hey Mary, you bigoted fool please give one example of a student asking to be identified as an animal. I’ll wait.
That’s what I thought. Oh, and to make one thing clear, this isn’t about teachers being sued for misnaming or misgendering any student anywhere, anytime, ever, because, even in Arkansas, no teacher has ever been sued for that,
This bill is intended to make transgender, non-binary, gender fluid students, less than, because politicians cannot wrap their heads around the idea.
My name’s Bob. My pronouns are he/him, and I identify as male, gay male,
That’s not so hard to remember and doing that for our trans brothers and sisters goes a long way toward making everyone at least feel equal.