How can I
April 27, 2023
The trees are greening. The vibrant chartreuse of brand-new tender leaves is making its way across the valley and up the hills. There is nothing like this color at any other season. I love it so.
How can I write about the glorious leaves of the burning bush outside my window when lawmakers across this country are stripping rights from trans people and banning life-saving medical care?
I feel powerless to do anything about Missouri or Montana -- or Texas, where the state Ag department now bans clothing that's "[in]consistent with biological gender." I wish I were kidding about that.
(I mean, Texas has done plenty worse. The governor issued an order classifying gender-affirming care as child abuse. The clothing guidelines are just a surreal topper to an already awful situation.)
There's so much injustice. We must not look away. The Dobbs decision and its impacts. Book bans. Regulating what history teachers can teach. "Don't Say Gay" and all that flows from it.
And now gender-affirming care bans harming trans children in a third of our country... with every indication that their proponents intend to come after trans adults next. (They're already doing so.)
How can I write about spring coming to the Berkshires when so much is so profoundly broken? It feels like fiddling while Rome burns, or admiring pretty wildflowers while ignoring forest fires.
Then again, how can I not write about spring? To live in this beautiful world without noticing it, without being grateful, is a dereliction of my responsibility to see with open eyes and to offer praise.
I do not help my friends and beloveds suffering oppression in red states by cutting myself off from the beauty around me. I think of these lines from Bertolt Brecht, from Svendborg Poems, 1939:
In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
About the dark times.
There is still beauty, in dark times. There is springtime. There is singing. There are parents who love our children fiercely and want to support them in growing into whoever they most deeply are.
And there's also the terrible shadow cast by those who want to impose their fear of difference or their narrow theology on everyone else. What gives them the right to impose their beliefs on others?
If you're standing between someone and their doctor to ban the life-saving medical care they need (whether reproductive healthcare or gender-affirming care), you're not the good guy.
And always in the back of my mind now, there's the the awareness that they would enact these controlling policies nationally if they could. Ban reproductive healthcare. "Ban transgenderism."
So I am here to tell you that spring has come to the Berkshires. Daffodils are nodding their heads. The leaves are breathtakingly beautiful. And our world remains broken, and we have work to do.
What can we actually do?
- Sign Keshet's open letter calling on the Jewish community to take action to defend trans lives. (You can sign as an ally; I did.)
- Join Thrive, The Jewish Coalition to Defend Trans and LGBQ+ Youth.
- Contact legislators (link provided by Keshet) to speak up for trans and LGBQ+ youth.
- Learn. Read Our state is at war with our family in the Washington Post (gift link). I also recommend Erin in the Morning.