At my high school reunion last year, a classmate I knew as Tom showed up as Vivienne and, while there was some surprise in that, we accepted this new reality and moved on. We told stories and laughed and danced to songs from the 70s.

I don’t know where my classmates and I came to be this way — maybe it’s just a matter of growing up, living life and learning from it — but we all seem to be accepting of the things that make us different. The men and women I knew long ago as boys and girls all seem to be blessed with a generous spirit, open minds and open hearts. (Not having gone to Catholic school might have been the key.)

All of us were kids once, and probably either cruel at moments or tempted to join in some cruelty directed at classmates or townies who were odd or just different.
But we grew up and put aside childish things and learned — some of us, the hard way — that everyone goes through a little bit of hell and a little bit of heaven during our time on Earth, and it’s how we bear through and come out the other side that makes us who we are. Tom turned out to be Vivenne — her gender identity turned out to differ from the sex she was assigned at birth — and nothing about this changes how I feel about that person. I have a lifetime membership in the Live and Let Live Society and, as required, I reserve my harsh judgments for people whose words and actions hurt others.

Which is why I wrote this week about the Republican fixation on transgender issues and the disgraceful effort to cast aside the best medical science — what even the American Medical Association recommends for children and adults — and actually do harm to vulnerable people for political gain.

Just yesterday, the Republican governor of Montana signed a bill to ban transition care for minors. Across the country, Republican legislators have introduced hundreds of bills targeting transgender individuals. “At least 10 states have banned gender-affirming care for minors,” CQ Roll Call reported last month, “and another 21 have introduced bills, even as multiple studies have found access to gender-affirming care reduces the risk of depression and suicide for trans children, who are more likely than not to have considered suicide.”

Republican lawmakers refuse to deal with gun violence while introducing dozens of bills to regulate the lives of transgender youths by restricting the bathrooms they can use, the sports teams they can join and the medical care they can receive.

As I stated in my Friday column, this vulnerable minority represents the new “other” for the country’s harshest conservatives. Dismissing medical science, eschewing live-and-let-live, or even common decency, Republican politicians go out of their way to use trans people to raise fears and rile the evangelical base.

Harris, center

Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, ever striving to be as far-out as the likes of Marjorie Taylor “Democrats are pedophiles” Greene, has joined in. He has a medical degree from Johns Hopkins, but dishonestly reduces gender-affirming care to “gender-denying genital mutilation.” Harris detests the idea that the federal government, through public health subsidies, might fund gender-affirming care for kids, putting him way out of step with medical science.

The American Medical Association opposes policies that discriminate against trans people. “Gender-affirming care is medically-necessary, evidence-based care that improves the physical and mental health of transgender and gender-diverse people,” the AMA said in response to legislative efforts to ban physicians from serving trans patients.

The Republican Party has debased itself in many ways in the Trump years. But its fixation on trans people, including vulnerable adolescents, is particularly disgusting. I should note that some versions of the Hippocratic Oath ask doctors like Andy Harris to “first, do no harm.” The instinct here seems to be to “first, inflict harm” — and all for cheap political points.

One thought on ““First, inflict harm” — the motto of the Republican campaign against transgender citizens

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