By Mary Collins
I have a transgender son, Donald Collins.
Let’s start by erasing the D and make that onald Collins just to show how distorted this sentence becomes with that one edit, with that one irrational erasure.
Let us now move on and erase onald and only use Collins, because the Trump administration wants to define gender solely on the basis of genitalia at birth.
Male or female.
Penis or vagina.
By using only Collins, just the surname, I get rid of any gender identifying markers, but there’s no room for no gender designation under this proposed new ruling, so I guess I better get rid of Collins as well.
Which is to say, if our society allows this sort of complete erasure of my trans son—a vibrant, honest, intelligent, hard-working individual who was born biologically female but identifies as male—then we’re no better than the Saudi suspects that allegedly chopped up the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and tried to erase any evidence of their brutal crime.
According to other allegations around Khashoggi’s murder, they edited videotape. They wiped up blood and repainted walls. They even had one of the men complicit in the murder put on Khashoggi’s clothes and exit the Turkish consulate to make it look like Khashoggi had indeed come and gone unharmed.
Only the ruse was so lousy, they erased that from the tapes as well.
The irony: the Saudis hoped to quiet a soft-spoken critic of Prince Mohammed bin Salman who occasionally published columns in the Washington Post, but their botched murder has instead led to renewed focus on everything the country has its hands in, from Yemen to oil.
The Trump administration’s office of Health and Human Services, which concocted the memo about essentially erasing “transgender” as an identity for about 1.4 million Americans, should learn from the Saudis’ misstep.
HHS, you’re upset by the modest gains our transgender citizens have made in the last five years? Well, try to negate that and you will feel the righteous wrath of millions of citizens who will push for way more, not less, who will suddenly care way more deeply about something they only had a glancing interest in. You will raise armies with your misstep.
If the administration tries to edit transgender citizens out of the national landscape, who will be next? There’s a long tradition in America of editing groups out of public spaces in particular.
No Irish Need Apply.
Whites Only Fountain.
No Jews Allowed.
No such thing as transgender individuals.
Well, I am the proud parent of a transgender son, so erase that line out of the national conversation.
About the Author
Mary Collins is the co-author, with her son Donald Collins, of At the Broken Places: A Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces.