Today, the Louisiana Senate Education Committee had a meeting. One of the items up for discussion at the meeting was Senate Bill 156 (House Bill 542) which would:

  1. Require that an athletic team or sporting event sponsored by a school be designated, based upon the “biological sex” of team members (teams consisting of “biological males” exclusively, “biological females” exclusively, or coed teams
  2. Force transgender girls to participate on boys teams or no team at all unless there is a coed team
  3. Prohibit people from taking legal action against any “coach, school, school board, school employee, school board member, postsecondary education management board, or postsecondary education board member” for prohibiting trans girls from participating on girls’ teams
  4. Allow “biological female” students to sue if they feel they have been harmed by trans girls participating in sports
  5. Allow coaches, schools, et al. to sue if they feel harmed by someone directly or indirectly for prohibiting trans girls from participating on girls sports teams

“Biological sex” is in quotes because biology of sex is more complex than such legislation indicates. To read the full text of the bill, go here. To read more about the bill/discussion, go here.

During the meeting, State Senator Katrina R. Jackson (D-Monroe) stated her support for the bill and added:

“But I don’t want to be called transphobic. I don’t call people racist because they don’t see my side of everything.”

State Sen. Katrina Jackson

It is my duty as human to fight for freedom from oppression. The very bare minimum, ground floor level of that is to push back against oppression when I see it. Sen. Jackson is not the Senator for my district (that would be Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria), but is the Senator closest to where I live because District 29 is shaped like someone stabbed Louisiana and dragged the knife with a vengeance. I now drive to Sen. Jackson’s district a couple times a week for my specialist internship because it’s that close. So to see her support this policy that will harm trans kids in the name of creating fairness was a little extra disappointing. I thought about it and carefully crafted the following 18 words and tagged the senator:

“We can’t contribute to harm and decide it’s unfair for people who experience that harm to name it.”

@joiultra

And that was it. I hadn’t said anything to her before, nothing else after. I continued to contemplate this in a separate thread of tweets (without tagging the senator). It was a three-tweet thread about Crip Camp, a documentary I was watching, and the connections between oppressions and liberation movements.

Then I went to virtual class to learn about revenue planning. I got out of class and saw a tweet from someone saying Senator Jackson had blocked them. I thought, “Wow. Really??” So I went to her page. And I learned she blocked me.

Screenshot of Twitter showing I am blocked by @katrinarjackson

But it’s really not about Senator Jackson in the long run. It’s about all the people in the Louisiana State Senate and elsewhere having the power to shape policy and restrict access to spaces in society and resources and not being willing to hear from people – including the people closest to the pain – on the consequences of how they use their power. After all, the bill did pass out of committee to the floor, and similar legislation is uncoincidentally popping up all over. And to make things more difficult, this wasn’t even the only bill the Louisiana Senate entertained this week that would limit trans kids’ access to opportunities/resources. This was also the same week and same legislature (though different chamber) that discussed a bill that would prohibit teaching about white supremacy and patriarchy. And we all know that’s just a sliver of what is going on.

It’s not just Senator Jackson blocking people who disagree with her policy positions on Twitter. That was symbolic of the larger issue. The current systems block us historically, presently, and continually. They present barriers to affordable housing, a full and fulfilling educational experience, healthcare, a livable wage, creating and maintaining families, clean water, clean air, healthful foods, free movement, a safe environment, a mind at peace, life. They even attempt to block us from working together for the redress of grievances – grievances those vested with power are not showing sufficient motivation to alleviate. So what do we do?

We work together anyway – maybe in part to spite the systems (if that’s what gets you going), but ultimately to love and support each other. We create discomfort and inconvenience where there is comfort with inequity, kindness and care where there has been neglect and abuse. We engage in mutual aid and the work of building a society where those barriers are removed and people can participate fully and freely with everything they need.

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