Shots fired: When Hater Harriet packaged fear as a moral value (and I threw up in my mouth a little)…

After my daughter’s school PTO hyped up their fundraiser at Chick-Fil-A (thanks, but no thanks), I stumbled upon this gem of WTF on the Facebook:

I cut out the author’s name because I don’t want them harassed, but if that’s a problem (if they want credit for these brilliant thoughts I don’t want to get in the way) I will share as needed. For purposes of my own entertainment, I shall refer to them as “Hater Harriet.”

I did, actually, throw up in my mouth while reading Harriett’s post and had to go spit in the trash can, but I’m thinking that had more to do with the deep-fried jalapeño and less with the rampant ignorance. I’d like to think ignorance could cause me to instantly vomit. The thought makes me giggle, but I expect that in reality that would be pretty smelly, gross and painful. If it were not all of those things (not to mention a health disaster to frequently vomit) then puking on bigotry could make for a fun Saturday night. Just sayin.

And so, I had to respond.

And I shared a link to this article from the Human Right’s Campaign on rates of attempted suicide among trans youth. This stuff tears my heart from my chest and stomps on it. Naturally, I received an empathetic response.

And then that question seemed to be translated as a personal attack…

Of course not. Maybe I can put on my teacher hat? My delicious pie of knowledge is loved by all Harriets (even less fearful ones) I’ve had the good fortune to teach. So I tried to offer a piece…

Hater Harriet was so receptive to new information. I could tell she really took it in and tried to process it.

Whoa, Nelly! Girl, it is not about you. Or me. It’s about kids, safety, and our role as participants in creating a world we want to live in.

No response. Maybe it’s not about the kids. Maybe she too has a trans sister, but maybe she just hates her?

I dunno.

Some questions that feel a bit unanswered here. Or, responses to imagined criticism:

1. Why did I bother? This isn’t even my kids’ school system.

Maybe it was because I was still reeling from the stupid Chick-Fil-A fundraiser, but the bottom line is that people have got to stand up for all LGBTQ people including (if not especially) trans-gender children. In life, as in college, when the space is oddly quiet is when it may be most critical for someone to speak. I hope more people will speak with conviction to stand up for kindness.

2. Why did I protect the identity of the author of the inflammatory post?

As misguided as this may be, fostering empathy is my goal, not calling out a particular person. That individual’s opinions are representative of a larger systemic problem of adults that would seek to further marginalize people who they see as a threat to their version of “normal,” even children. If those adults were children we would call it bullying. Unfortunately, as adults they have more power and influence.

3.You are not the world’s best sister. Don’t even make it sound like you are.

That’s true and valid. I have never been the world’s best sister. I’m not even like 60% on that one. Maybe 54. However, that’s been consistent before and after my sister coming out as my sister. I’m hanging out in at least a tie for world’s most unimpressive sister, but I will try to be a pretty okay ally.

4. What’s the next step?

I hope you’ll join me, that you too will pause and speak up when you glimpse adults organizing to further marginalize people. I am so glad that our culture is shifting away from apathy and powerlessness to call for justice. Together, when we see hate and fear, let’s call it what it is and be loud and clear so that hate and intolerance can not masquerade as moral values. Let’s refuse to be complicit.

One way to take a stand is to donate to the Human Rights Campaign. You can find their donation page at this link, or visit their shop to find sweet tees while also supporting a good cause.

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