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Patrick doubles down on potty politics

It’s potties all the way down.

Dan Patrick is threatening their children

Declaring that “this fight is just beginning,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Tuesday escalated his battle against guidelines in Texas and across the country that allow students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

Speaking to reporters at the Texas Capitol, Patrick announced a number of new moves in the offensive, including a request for an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on whether the Fort Worth Independent School District broke the law when it adapted such guidelines last month. Patrick also said he was sending a letter to all Texas school districts advising them to ignore a similar directive issued this month by the federal government.

Throughout his remarks, Patrick suggested that state lawmakers would have to step in if Fort Worth ISD did not reconsider its actions. He also repeatedly pushed back on the idea that he is intruding on a local matter, saying it is “this superintendent and school board that is prohibiting local control.”

“When we have a rogue, runaway superintendent and a rogue, runaway school board, then the Legislature this coming-up session is going to have to look at this issue because the law is clear,” Patrick told reporters. “So what do parents do when the superintendent and the school board ignores them? When the superintendent and school board breaks the law, if that’s the case? The parents are going to look to us.”

Patrick’s request for an AG opinion is here. His attempt to denigrate and delegitimize duly elected officials who had the nerve to take a completely legal action that he disagreed with is despicable, but par for the course for an authoritarian like himself. I’m hardly the gatekeeper for what it means to be “conservative”, but I am old enough to recall a time when those who called themselves “conservative” would not have dreamed of butting in on local decision-making in which they had no direct stake like that. It’s not the disagreement that’s at issue here, nor even the heavyhanded threats to overrule the school board’s (again, perfectly legal and entirely consistent with the principles of treating all students equally) actions via the Legislature, which as we know with the federal government is something that can be and is done at that level. It’s the irresponsible use of epithets like “rogue” and “runaway” that tries to cast perfectly mundane actions by local officials in a sinister lights. Putting aside any other consideration here, that’s shameful behavior on Patrick’s part, though as we know completely of a piece. The only legitimate government to Dan Patrick – and Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton – is government that does only and exactly things he agrees with. It’s his way or the threats and recriminations and lawsuits begin.

But of course that isn’t the only consideration. There are many students in Texas public schools who are directly affected not just by inclusive and appropriate policies regarding bathroom usage, but also by the fearmongering and demagoguery being espoused by the likes of Dan Patrick. The most charitable explanation I can think of is that Patrick just simply doesn’t have any understanding of what it means to be transgender. Lord knows, there’s plenty of misinformation and misrepresentation out there (much of it coming from people like Dan Patrick, but let’s put that aside for now). Fortunately, we live in a time when parents of transgender children have begun to speak out in support of their kids and in response to the ignorance and fear of the likes of Dan Patrick. Equality Texas presented four such parents, and you really need to read and understand what they had to say to our Lite Governor.

Meet Kimberly Shappley. She is a Houston area mom and the mother of a transgender child, who was born a boy named Joseph Paul, and who identifies as her daughter, Kai. Kai is five years old.

“From my earliest memories, I noticed the nature and temperament of this child was more similar to my daughter than to my sons. Around age two, a family member asked me if my child was gay because of her flamboyantly feminine mannerisms and love for all things girly. I asked our daycare to put away all girly toys. When my child consistently and persistently insisted “I am a girl”, the adults in her life would get down on her level and look her in the eyes and firmly tell her, “no. you are a boy.” My child went into depression. It is very difficult to witness depression in a formerly joyful toddler. Haircuts became a nightmare of horror movie screams of, “Stop. Stop. Please don’t mommy. Please don’t let them cut my hair.” But I was adamant this child was going to have a flattop. This child would never get a single toy that she wanted, nor the birthday party theme she asked for. My sweet child began praying for Joseph to go to Heaven and live with Jesus. Kai was begging the Lord to let her die. Moments like these helped me to realize transition was necessary. I didn’t know how to do it. I just knew I needed to help my child,” said Kimberly Shappley, mom of a transgender child from Pearland.

“We are private people. We are lifelong Republicans, we are Christian. We are a Houston family who only want to protect our daughter and live quietly. We did not want to speak out publicly, but the lt. governor has forced us out of our private lives and into the public arena to protect our daughter. This is the face of a transgender child in Texas. I want Texans to look at my little girl’s photo. Do we as a state really want to force her to go into the boy’s bathroom? Why are we targeting innocent children for political games? The Superintendent of the Pearland school district, who is listening to the direction of the lt. governor and attorney general, wants to force my little girl into the boy’s bathroom. My number one job in life is “a mom” and I am speaking out today to protect my little girl,” said Shappley. “I urge Lt. Governor Patrick and other leaders to sit down with me and families like mine and educate themselves about transgender children.”

Here’s more from the Chronicle:

“I’m here to tell Dan Patrick – you specifically – you are endangering my child’s life because you have now told everyone in the state of Texas that it’s OK to harass my child, it’s OK for the school district to stop supporting him. And I want you to know my child has had no issues with his school,” said Ann Elder of Friendswood, holding a picture of her transgender son in short brown hair and a blue flannel shirt. “They have been supportive. He goes to the boy’s bathroom. Everything is perfectly fine.”

What do you have to say to that, Dan Patrick? You admitted to the Austin Chronicle that you didn’t know any transgender people on a “personal basis”. Will you take the time to meet these parents and their children, and try to understand their perspective? Or will you continue to pretend that they are something less than human and thus endanger their safety? It’s your choice to make. That choice will show us what kind of person you are. Trail Blazers, the StarTelegram, the Press, the Current, and Think Progress, which notes that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to do an en banc review of its earlier ruling upholding the Obama directive on transgender bathroom access in a case involving a school in Virginia, have more.

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3 Comments

  1. No one should ever be able to inflict 5 minutes of oppression on our transgender loved ones if they have never met one. These people are lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut. (Sorry, I know that’s nastier than “rogue” and “runaway.”)(and for the record, I do feel a twinge of guilt for doing that right after Charles gave a nice talk about taking the high road)(but I’m pushing “publish” anyways).

  2. Ross says:

    Danny boy assumes that anyone who isn’t just like him (a white protestant) is subhuman and not worthy of his time or respect. He is an evil piece of work.

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