bookmark_borderSomeone doesn’t understand what an opinion is…

I recently came across the below post on social media, which really irritated me as it is an example of the arrogance and logical inconsistency demonstrated by many on the left-hand side of the political spectrum: 

“I want to be absolutely, positively, utterly, certainly [expletive] clear on this. An opinion is for whether pineapple goes on pizza, red sauce or white sauce, and whether you’re a winter or a summer color.

It is not, and I repeat, it is NOT, about whether trans people should have gender affirming medical care. No one is doing surgeries on trans kids. Puberty blockers are just that: blockers. When they’re stopped, puberty resumes. These treatments and those like them have a 99% effective rate, which would be considered [expletive] MIRACULOUS in every other field of medicine. That little 1% of people who de-transition overwhelmingly do so because they feel unsafe to transition or that their livelihood is jeopardized somehow, AND OFTEN RETRANSITION. For context, fully 8% of parents in one study claimed regret over having children, and another 6% on top of that said they initially regretted it but no longer do… But you still see people having babies and making decisions for their own [expletive] lives.

It is unspeakably VILE to me that anyone would be in a position to engage with children in a professional, healthcare setting, who would deny them access to care, or shame them for desiring it, and continue to espouse this both-sidesism when you are CLEARLY uninterested in hearing from actual trans people regarding care that has saved their lives, and would have made their early lives infinitely easier and less traumatic and dysphoric. Doubly vile to claim the mantle of priesthood while doing it. Trans people, and trans youth, deserve better.”

The question that pops into my mind upon reading this is: what right does this person have to tell everyone else in the world what an opinion is, and what an opinion isn’t? Who the heck is he to dictate the topics on which people are and are not allowed to have opinions?

Believe it or not, an opinion can be for any topic whatsoever. An opinion can be about which toppings should be added to pizza, what type of sauce is best, which colors a person should wear, OR whether trans people should have “gender affirming medical care.” As shocking as this might be, people can have opinions on any of these topics.

Obviously, the person who made this post disagrees with the opinion that there should be restrictions on medical procedures related to gender transition. But it does not follow that such a position is somehow not actually an opinion at all. No matter how strongly you disagree with another person’s opinion on gender transitioning, no matter how wrong you believe that opinion to be, it is, in fact, an opinion. The fact that an opinion differs from your own doesn’t make it not an opinion

The person who made this post is seemingly arguing that it is only possible for people to have opinions on topics that he considers to be relatively unimportant. If a person disagrees with him on an issue that he feels strongly about, the logic apparently goes, then their position on that issue is somehow not actually an opinion. But that simply makes no sense. People can have opinions on things that are unimportant, and people can have opinions on things that are important. (People can even have – gasp! – differing opinions on the relative importance and unimportance of different things!) People can have opinions that are wrong, and people can have opinions that are right. People can hold any conceivable position on any conceivable topic. That’s what an opinion is.

Another thing that merits mentioning is the inconsistency in how the “woke” ideology treats transgender rights compared to other issues. The person who made this post seems to feel pretty strongly about people’s right to make “decisions for their own [expletive] lives” even when there is a risk that the person will later regret the decision. But somehow, I doubt that this person is equally passionate about the right to decline medical interventions, such as vaccines for example. I would bet good money that this person actually vociferously opposes such a right.

It is illogical and immoral to consider the right to transition-related medical interventions so basic that people aren’t allowed to have dissenting opinions about it, while simultaneously opposing the right to decline medical intervention. As “unspeakably VILE” as this person considers the denial of care to be, it is even more vile to force care on people who do not want it. Yet this is precisely what countless Democratic mayors, city councils, governors, state legislatures, members of Congress, and the President of the United States have done. Where is the outrage about this far more serious violation of fundamental rights? 

Among those on the left-hand side of the political spectrum, nowhere. (Or more accurately, it was directed at those expressing opposition to the rights violations, instead of at the violations themselves.) I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. One can no longer expect adherents of “woke” ideology to demonstrate logical consistency. Or any logic whatsoever, for that matter.

bookmark_borderBoston Strong?

This is the weekend of the Boston Marathon, an event that I have mixed feelings about, particularly since the city of Boston decided to completely reject the existence of people like me, first by deliberately removing the public art that symbolizes our acceptance and inclusion, next by abolishing the holiday that symbolizes our acceptance and inclusion and replacing it with a holiday celebrating people who have inflicted unbearable pain on us, and later by banning people who decline medical intervention from entering any restaurants, museums, gyms, sporting events, or theaters.

This weekend also marks the 10th anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing. On the anniversary itself, April 15, the Red Sox held a pre-game ceremony in honor of “One Boston Day.” Honestly, due to the things that I have experienced over the past three years, watching this ceremony was painful. There are no words to describe the anguish caused by seeing other people’s pain validated and their losses acknowledged, while my pain and loss remain unacknowledged, unrecognized, and ignored. While those affected by the bombing have been honored with a ceremony, applauded by a crowd of tens of thousands of people, and invited to throw the first pitch, there has been no ceremony for me, and no ceremony for Christopher, whose head was brutally torn from his body and smashed to pieces by a vicious bully (a bully whose identity remains unknown and whom police have seemingly made no serious effort to apprehend, because Christopher’s life does not matter to them). The community that embraced the survivors of the bombing, and rallied around them with a unanimous outpouring of support, has given me no special honors, no words of support, no compensation for my loss, and not even an acknowledgement that I have lost anything of importance. Despicably, society has reacted to my loss by rewarding the people who inflicted it and punishing me further. 

Christopher’s life mattered, as much as Krystle Campbell’s, Lingzi Lu’s, or Martin Richard’s. What happened on June 10, 2020 was every bit as horrific, and every bit as harmful, as what happened on April 15, 2013. For me, it was a million times more so. The actions of the excuse for a person who ripped Christopher’s head from his body were every bit as immoral as the actions of the Tsarnaev brothers. Actually, I would go so far as to say they were infinitely worse.

So many words have been said and written about the strength, the resilience, and the courage that were displayed on that Patriots’ Day. So much praise has poured out from every conceivable direction for the victims, survivors, and first responders. But nothing has been said or written about what I have survived, what I have gone through.

The pain that has been inflicted on me over the past three years is as terrible as any pain that has been inflicted on anyone. My feelings are as important as anyone else’s, my perspective just as valid, my story just as worthy of being told. On this Patriots’ Day, as I do every day, I remember Christopher. It is impossible not to. He is the person I love. He is a hero who was brutally murdered when he could do absolutely nothing to defend himself. A hero whose brutal obliteration from the earth has been marked with no mourning, no commemoration, no outpouring of support for those who are grieving, and no acknowledgement that a loss even occurred. Despicably, it has even been celebrated.

Therefore, words about unity, togetherness, and “One Boston” are difficult to hear, given that the city has rejected me in a very real sense.

Today the Sox held another ceremony, this one honoring the team that won the 2013 World Series. “We are all Boston Strong,” the public address announcer told the crowd while explaining how the team and the city took inspiration from each other. Something in my heart changed upon hearing these words. Watching the now-retired players come out of the dugout and onto the field, some of them looking like they hadn’t aged a day and others looking decidedly scruffier and/or grayer, I was transported back to a simpler time, a happier time, a time before everything that made my life worth living was destroyed. I can’t quite wrap my head around how a city that enacted a holiday celebrating this destruction can simultaneously embrace me, can simultaneously include me among those deemed “Boston Strong.” But somehow, in a way that I don’t fully understand, I entertain the possibility that the “Boston Strong” descriptor might, just maybe, be intended to apply to me, too. 

What has been done to Christopher, to those like him, and to myself, is the greatest injustice in human history. Most people will consider this statement ridiculous, but I truly believe it with every fiber of my being. While watching today’s ceremony, a crazy idea was born in my brain. What if I could somehow create some sort of foundation to commemorate Christopher and people like him, to fight back against this injustice, and to perhaps make an iota of progress in healing the indescribable harm that has been inflicted? Many, many people would hate such a foundation, and I’m not sure if anyone would donate money to it. I’m not even exactly sure what the foundation would do. But I want to try.

Tomorrow is the Boston Marathon. Most likely, I will not be watching it. The pain is still too strong, and the anger and bitterness still linger. Yet somehow, amidst the searing mix of emotions brought up by this anniversary, and alongside the almost unimaginable injustice that continues, I possess a glimmer of hope, and a feeling of lightness in my heart, which I did not have before. I feel something else as well: determination.

As always… rest in peace, Christopher Columbus (10/21/1979 – 6/10/2020)

bookmark_borderAutism Acceptance Month and Confederate History Month

April is celebrated as both Autism Acceptance Month and Confederate History Month. These things might seem completely unrelated… but for me they are not.

I am on the autism spectrum. I have always experienced the world differently from other people, seen things differently, and thought differently from those around me. Until I was an adult, I never knew that there was a word for the way my mind works. I just thought I was “weird” and “mixed up” and “wrong” for not liking the things other people liked, and for having such difficulty with things like riding a bike, tying my shoes, playing sports, participating in conversations, and making friends, which seemed to come so easily to other people. I didn’t feel that I had much in common with other kids or adults at school, or even my own family members.

I did, however, feel a sense of identity with people from history. My favorite thing to do was to read about them, look at pictures of them, and imagine what their lives were like. I gravitated towards the historical figures who were under-appreciated, misunderstood, and looked down upon, probably because I considered myself to have these characteristics as well. This included historical figures from the Confederacy. Although I am not descended from anyone who fought for the Confederacy, I have always felt a sense of kinship with them because they were underdogs and rebels. They were portrayed in history class as the “bad guys,” but as I read more about them, I realized that they had their own viewpoints, perspectives, and stories, which are too frequently ignored. As someone on the autism spectrum, this was something that I could relate to.

It is difficult to put into words how much happiness historical figures have given me, and how important they are to me. Historical figures made me feel understood, and like I wasn’t alone. Therefore, it is difficult to put into words how heartbreaking and infuriating it has been to witness the horrible things that have happened to Confederate statues over the past few years. These events have made me feel like I am being morally condemned and like I am having my greatest source of joy and meaning taken away from me. As an autistic person who has spent my life trying my best to get through the demands of each day, and to be a good student, a good friend, a good employee, and a good person, I truly don’t believe I deserve this. With so much emphasis being placed on diversity and inclusion, why do I not get to feel accepted or included? Why are people like me no longer represented in art, monuments, memorials, or media? Why does society not acknowledge my perspective, my feelings, my story, or my experiences?

Because of my own personal experiences, both autism and Confederate heritage are integral parts of my identity. Both of these things have helped to shape the person that I am and the perspective through which I see the world, a perspective that deserves to be honored and recognized just as much as anyone else’s. In honor of two important and meaningful parts of my life, I will be celebrating the month of April as both Autism Acceptance Month and Confederate History Month.

Marissa and Stonewall