My state, Tennessee, has been under the microscope lately. I have lived here for the last 28 years. I have raised kids here, worked here, and made my home here. This week, I have considered leaving this state.
Those of us who live here, have known of the racism and hate against marginalized groups. Those of us who don’t share those beliefs have basically lived and moved under the radar. I know, when I am at work, or in a large group; that I stay to myself. The majority here flaunt their hate whenever they have the chance to look powerful.
My teen kiddos don’t like to do anything much anymore, that involves being around people who are interacting. Part of the reason is that they both live with complex ptsd; a result of having to spend so much time in fear as they were forced to parenting time with an abusive parent. Now that more of our state’s hate is showing, it has gotten worse. We have had to find places and activities that we enjoy a little. Mostly, the 17 year old likes going to the movies, and the 14 year old likes going out for ice cream (using a drive thru). I involve myself in support groups and non-profit boards. At least I get to work on projects with others sharing the same goals.
We had two young legislators expelled from service this week, following a school shooting and the organizing of groups of young people protesting for more gun control. Right now, Tennessee is a place where anyone can obtain a gun, and carry it around without question. There was a third legislator up for expulsion as well, but she was not expelled. The color of her skin was different than the two young men’s. Tennessee’s racism showed in a big way.
Tennessee is now more divided than ever. Some cling to the “violation of the rules of decorum”, which is how they disguise their racism. Once someone claims that it was right for them to be expelled, there is no need for further conversation. Just a few weeks ago, a legislator proposed bringing back lynching. This is so crazy, in 2023 for these words to come from someone who is suppose to be a leader.
Of course, the other issue making our state, and others, unsafe for families like mine; is the ban on transgender care for youth. As you can see from the map, there are very few places left, where transgender youth can obtain care. What message does this send to the youth who are already facing adversity in their families, communities, churches, and schools? As I research and learn more and more about transgender youth, and the science behind gender dysphoria; I see how abusive it is to deny the care they need.
I wish I could make a safe space in our community. My hope is for families to have a place where they can build community with other families who don’t fit in the box with the majority of people in our area.
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