To the man who wanted to argue with me tonight:
You didn’t get your wish. I’m not sorry that I refused to give into your attempts to bait me into an argument while I was working. I’m not sorry that I grit my teeth and swallowed back my words and didn’t jump across the counter and kebab your eyeballs with my thumbs. I’m not sorry because that means I still have a job. Not because I didn’t want to kebab your eyeballs.
Because I really, really did.
Here’s the thing: I don’t give a shit that you think I’m crazy for believing that all transgender people should just be treated like people. No modifier needed. I don’t care that you have nine children that you’re raising to be just as bigoted and narrow-minded as you.
Nope, sorry, don’t believe you that there’s a “dark layer of sexual perversion” within the trans community. Because, guess what? No, there isn’t. Trans-women are not lying in wait to rape me in the bathroom. That’s happened literally zero times to me and to every single person I’ve ever met in my life. And guess what? It’s happened zero times to anyone you know or care about too.
Here’s why I’m still thinking about you and your narrow mind and utterly insane attempt to bait me into an argument today. It’s not because of the things you said about bathrooms and the “direction this country is headed in” or about how you scoffed when I said that the transgender people I know are not the kinds of people I’ve ever even thought about being afraid of when I go to the bathroom.
It’s none of that.
No, it’s when you got really angry toward the end of your impotent, one-sided argument and you stuck your finger in my face and raised your voice and said, “You’re crazy if you think they’re not out there. You don’t understand now, but when you have children…THEN you’ll know and you’ll see how many things you really do need to be afraid of.”
And that stuck with me.
Now, first of all, I was raised to understand that you don’t stick your finger in the faces of crazy people. And buddy, that’s exactly what I am.
Because when I do have children, the first thing I’m going to teach them is the idea that everyone is a little bit crazy and that everyone has the capacity to be unpredictable and that you should never really count on anyone following the script.
I’m going to teach them that men and women are equals in every sense of the word.
I’m going to teach them that everyone is important in some way—not in a Participation Trophy kind of way, but in a ‘unique in the universe’/Dr. Who kind of way—and that even narrow-minded, bigoted idiots like you, sir, are worth listening to, if only for a minute. Because I’m going to teach them that surrounding yourself with people who agree with you might make life easier, but it’s no way to learn anything about the world or about yourself.
I’m going to teach them that this world is big and vast and amazing and terrible and that it will break their little hearts ten ways to Sunday and not ever once apologize.
But I’m going to teach them how to be grateful for that heartbreak and how to turn it into something useful. And show them that rage and heartache and anger and pain have been turned into some of the most beautiful art in the world. I want to show them that the world hurts you, but if you take your pain and make use of it, you can show the world that it didn’t win when it tried to break you.
I’m going to tell them that they need to see the world before they decide what they want to be when they grow up. I want them to work alongside people who don’t speak English, who talk about them and giggle at their attempts to communicate. I want them to understand how hard it is to learn another language and live somewhere new and unfamiliar and far from home so that they can sympathize with immigrants and refugees. I want them to see and experience true poverty and true decadence and understand how lucky they are to have what they have.
But more than all that, I’m going to teach them that going through life with a small heart and a small mind is no way to live. That no matter what anyone else says, in our house? We accept each other. When we’re afraid of something, we go and learn about it. We don’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is fine when it isn’t.
I want to raise my children to be fearless warriors in the fight for a better world. I want to raise people who love each other. People who will greet this world and her many challenges and curiosities with an open hand, not a closed fist.
So no, sir. I’m not going to cover the eyes and ears of my future children and tell them all the things they need to be afraid of. They’ll have plenty of people who will do that for them. People like you, I guess.
And maybe I am crazy for clinging to a shred of hope for the next generation. Maybe I’m crazy to think that people are just people and there’s no help for the human condition but love and acceptance. Maybe I’m nuts to believe that at our core, we’re all exactly the same anyway and these ideas of race and gender and nationality and religion are just things we made up, barriers we invented and they don’t mean anything.
But I guess what I’m really hoping is that someday, when someone points their finger in the face of my child and calls him crazy for standing up for what he believes in, I hope he turns the other cheek and smiles just to piss them off.
I hope he remembers that crazy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And if anyone ever asks where he got all his crazy ideas? I hope that for at least a few of them he can be proud to say he got them from his mama.