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Some Humans Ain't Human

Abby Zimet


Family photo.

Though they rank last in the country in health care access/affordability and 45th nationally in COVID vaccines and not much better in education or income or environmental protection or really anything except executions - and while they currently face possible power shortages - Texas lawmakers nonetheless decided to spend their sweet taxpayer-funded time this week debating four anti-trans bills that address no problems any constituents asked them to solve but sure do help sow fear and misconception among right-wingers hungry for something or someone to hate on. The Texas bills, part of a national trend that's seen a record-setting 82 anti-transgender bills introduced in this year's state legislatures, include one that would label as illegal and child abuse any kind of gender-affirming health care, from hormones to counseling to sex-change surgery, even though experts say such care is often life-saving to the nation's roughly 50,000 trans kids who need it. Other anti-trans bills Texas GOP legislators desperate for distraction are considering include bathroom-and-sports-themed ones to reverse Obama-era moves against discrimination long decried by local pastors for spreading the "militant homosexual agenda" and thus  threatening "God's continued favor" - though what's really unconscionably happening, notes the head of Texas' Transgender Education Network, is "essentially adults in power bullying trans kids."

Among those not here for it is Kimberly Shappley, a Mississippi-raised, ultra-conservative Christian minister, former Tea Partier and mother of seven whose life irrevocably changed when her son Joseph-Paul began at age three "verbalizing that she was a girl at least six times a day," often declaring, "You know I'm a girl." Shappley fought it for two years "because my quote-unquote religion" told her she'd lose her family, friends, former life. But after she went back to school to become a nurse, began learning about biology and high suicide rates among trans kids, and heard her new daughter "praying that Joseph could go home to be with Jesus - my kid was praying to die," she realized she had to " let her daughter Kai be herself." "I'm a mom of a little girl that I would like to see live," she told a school board early in her advocacy. "I'm not fighting about bathrooms. I'm fighting about her life." Since then, she has repeatedly spoken out, and moved to keep Kai, now ten, safe. This week, Kai schooled and shamed the Texas Senate on what it's cost them both. "I do not like spending my free time asking adults to make good choices,” said Kai, who's also appeared in an ACLU-supported documentary. “Texas legislators have been attacking me since Pre-K." With preternatural calm, she blasted "people who hate me just because I exist," rebuked Sen. Charles Perry for wrapping his bigotry in faux religion - "God loves me for who I am, and God does not make mistakes" - and urged lawmakers to grow up. "Please listen to me, hear me, try to educate yourselves," she said. "Try to understand....everybody."

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. 

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