Editor: In response to the recent letter from Thomas Black of Leesburg regarding gender identity policies in Loudoun County Public Schools, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. And given the quote the article starts with regarding how each individual soul is deserving of kindness, respect, and justice, it strikes me as categorically hypocritical and apathetic to the needs and safety of Loudoun’s children.
First, on the issue of names, it is common sense that any parent who changes the name of a child should have the unquestioned ability to do so. But so should the child. When I attended school (decades ago) it was common practice for teachers to ask for nicknames or preferred names at the beginning of each year, not because of gender identity but because of basic respect. I didn’t go by my full name, many times teachers would use a nickname or my last name. Why would a parent need to be notified over something so small as a name preference?
Probably because it’s conflated with some larger need for society to be involved in the gender identity of a child. In practice, this sounds like an ideal situation to have a loving, supportive parent who can assist their child in understanding their gender identity in safety and plan whatever steps they may need next in coordination with an affirming doctor and therapist. But that isn’t reality. As a child, I was the subject of great physical and verbal abuse because it was assumed I was gay because I was perceived as effeminate. I’m not. I could explain in gruesome details the injuries and hospital visits I suffered, but surely we all can understand that many children are the victims of such abuse. For many, appeals to police and courts prove unfruitful because parents either lie about how the child was prone to “accidents” or blackmail children into recanting lest it “ruin the family.”
In November, my wife and I fostered a transgender boy who had been kicked out of his home at 17, early in his senior year and amid COVID after years of abuse. Imagine the difficulty in trying to assume adulthood, plan for college, and begin a life when your parents are actively trying to hurt and abandon you? How many children, LGBTQ+ and otherwise, commit suicide because they lack support and love while facing abuse in their family? How many hide scars because they are conditioned to believe that disclosing their abuse would only result in far harsher abuse? Far too many. This is not a rare occurrence. Not all parents are supportive and if a child feels they can’t share their gender identity, the school system should respect that for that child’s safety.
As for how other people address transgender and non-binary students, I find it to be either an intellectually dishonest argument, a complete lack of understanding of true scripture, or a clear attempt to twist religion to support transphobic views to state that we must call people based on their “biology.” There is simply nothing to back up biblically mandated pronouns. If God created man, then certainly he created transgender man, too? Science has shown again and again that gender identity is deeply rooted in a person’s biology, their minds, and their body. Research has proven that failing to support a child’s gender identity by failing to use a proper name and pronouns, leads to a significant decline in their ability to learn and form friendships while leading to a significantly higher risk of suicide? The mental health community has affirmed repeatedly that gender identity is not a mental illness, but an inherent, biological part of who each of us is. Most people have talked to, worked with, or even shared a bathroom with transgender person without realizing they are anything other than their perceived gender.
But even disregarding all of this, who are any of us to judge someone else for who they are? What about “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”. (Matthew 7:1-3) In what way does calling someone the right pronoun infringe on our ability to be practitioners of our religion? Are we going to challenge every masculine woman or feminine man? What about those who legally change their gender? Or biologically change their body past the point it’s even perceptible they were born another sex? Where will we draw the line? We shouldn’t draw lines, we should just respect each other with basic human dignity. People exist along a spectrum and just like in every other aspect of life, they deserve kindness, respect, and justice. It can literally save a child’s life.
Christopher Candice Tuck, Leesburg