Dear Senator Higdon,
This is my first time writing to your office because I’m a pro-choice Democrat and I’ve never been given any indication that you, or anyone else who represents me in the Kentucky Legislature, gives a damn what I think. But I can’t stand by and watch another “100% pro-life” politician continue bullying some of our most vulnerable children to the point where they may self-harm or even kill themselves.
I didn’t speak up when the legislature wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars making sure that one transgender girl couldn’t participate in the field hockey team she started, but House Bill 470 is taking this hateful campaign to a whole new level. With Senate Bill 83 you took away the right of Kentucky athletic associations to make decisions on who can participate in sports, but HB 470 takes away the rights of parents and medical professionals to make decisions on what is best for their child and patient.
Our foster care system is in shambles, we’re bottom of the barrel when it comes to teacher pay, and the opioid epidemic is destroying our youth. Why are you wasting all this time and money trying to make life even harder for a small minority of our children? My representative, Candy Massaroni, is one of the co-sponsors of this hateful bill so I didn’t even bother reaching out to her, but I do think you genuinely care about helping children. And if you do, then please consider the consequences, and vote no on HB 470.
Mary Beth Young
I didn’t expect much when I sent this message to my state senator Jimmy Higdon a couple of days ago. Maybe a form letter saying he appreciated my input. But I didn’t even get that. What I got was absolute silence until the supermajority Republican Senators in the Kentucky General Assembly abruptly tacked on HB 470 to a resurrected SB 150 at the last minute without allowing any public input whatsoever.
And that made everything a thousand times worse. Now, in addition to a ban on gender-affirming medical care, no schools can discuss sexual orientation or gender identity, no sex education is allowed before sixth grade and students are forbidden from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Oh, and bullying teachers who misgender students are a-okay too.
So now we’re not just demonizing transgender kids in Kentucky. These religious zealots have found a way to bully all children whose sexual orientation doesn’t conform to their fundamentalist beliefs. And of course, keep the little girls who start their period before middle school ignorant of their own bodies. After all, if they get raped they’re going to have to birth those babies anyway, whether they’re physically capable of it or not.
I wrote the preceding three paragraphs last night but this morning I decided I needed to contact my senator one more time.
Dear Senator Higdon,
Thank you for showing me with your vote on SB 150 yesterday how wrong I was about what kind of man you really are. When I wrote you a couple of days ago asking you to vote no on HB 470 I expected at least a generic reply, maybe even some kind of clue on which way you were leaning, but when the bill seemed to stall out I thought it might die a quiet death.
Instead, you and your fellow Republicans pulled a last-minute dirty trick and resurrected SB 150 so that you could expand the hate to all children whose sexual orientation doesn’t conform to your religious beliefs via your “Don’t Say Gay” ban and give bigoted teachers the green light to disrespect transgender children by using any pronouns they want.
I was under no illusion that my letter would change your vote, but when I watched your former colleague and fellow Republican beg you with tears in his eyes not to hurt his grandchild, I did think that might at least make a few Senators think twice about what they were doing. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
After seeing the undemocratic lows you and your party sank to in order to shove through your omnibus hate bill with no time for a response from your constituents, I think I prefer my representative Candy Massaroni. At least she has the balls to support your hateful agenda loudly and proudly.
Mary Beth Young
Mary Beth Young is a progressive, introverted, atheist cat lady living in deep red rural Kentucky. Her novels and essays can be found on www.mbyoung.org.