06 June 2011

How Could I Ever Break Up Your Family?

If I recall correctly, one of the characters in Alberto Moravia's The Conformist (and in Bernardo Bertolucci's film based on the novel) says something to the effect that in Italy, people can rationalize anything in the name of their families.

That's more or less what any number of Italian-Americans (Remember, I speak as one!), from church officials to Mafiosi, have done.  However, in America, instead of one's own family, one can use "The Family" to rationalize all manner of prejudice and hatred.

To wit:  Nearly all of the opposition to equal rights for transgenders (or, for that matter, gays, lesbians and bisexuals) includes some group or another with the word "family" in its name.  It's happening now in Maine, where a group called the Maine Family Policy Council is trying to get the state to roll back some of the protections for transgenders it encoded in its laws.  The Massachusetts Family Council is trying to do the same thing in their state, and in Connecticut, "family" groups are trying to prevent that state from passing a gender-inclusive anti-discrimination bill.  Similar scenarios are playing out in other states that have passed, or are trying to pass, such legislation.

How, pray tell, does protecting the rights of LGBT people threaten the family?  If a man marries a man, or a woman a woman, I don't see how that undermines heterosexual families.  If anything, allowing same-sex marriages might prevent a few broken homes, as some young person who, not so long ago, might have entered into a sham marriage in order to "fit in" will have the option of creating a family on his or her own terms.  I think such a union would have a better chance than some marriage that's based on nothing more than guilt or misplaced familial or societal expectations.

And I don't know how making it illegal for someone to fire or evict me, or to commit violence against me, because I had an "M" on by birth certificate will break up anyone's family or persuade some kid to be like me unless he or she feels about gender identity as I did.

Finally, even if you define marriage as "a man and a woman," and believe that is the basis of a family, I still don't understand how I can be such a threat to it.  I never stopped any heterosexual couple from getting married or having kids, and I never broke up anyone's marriage or family. Well, I've been blamed for the latter, but I still don't understand how I came to have such power.

If anyone can explain how undergoing having undergone my transition, or loving whomever I love, is such a threat to the formation or stability of someone's family, I would be very interested in hearing it.