From: Drew Armstrong
To:
Subject: Our child is Transgender, My wife is the Editor of LDS Living Magazine, I am a Real Estate Broker and a State and County Republican Party Delegate and have been for many cycles.
Date: Mon May 16 15:39:07 MDT 2016
Body:
Dear State Legislators and School Board members,

I have seen the scaremongering letter pleading for people to please call you regarding the order that has come down from Obama. It is kind of the perfect storm for many of the hard right in Utah. Strangely it is something that libertarians outside of our state would probably leave alone but... the states rights part of this issue make it fun for all to oppose while not really considering the collateral damage.


I have a transgender child. He is 14 and told us that he wanted to be a boy at age three. As a devout LDS father I was immediately faced with a TON of questions. We gently tried to push this child towards more "girl appropriate" activities and clothes. Our son would have nothing to do with it. My wife and I divorced when he was six. Tyler was very consistent... really absolutely consistent with his gender choices. He has 13 airsoft guns he collected and earned the money to purchase himself. He has 3 skateboards. Does not own a dress... wears khaki pants and a tie to church... and when he was 12 he came to me and asked me if I knew what transgender was. We did not teach him this. He figured it out on his own. 

That year I figured out he had been waiting to pee at school... all day long because kids at school would bully him in the girls and the boys restrooms. This past year he has been staying home and doing an online public charter school. However he really wants to go back to a regular school.

I believe we all want our kids and our families to be safe. And I dislike my kid being turned into a political pawn here. We have really needed a support system and have found Northstar and Affirmation which are support groups for LDS LGBT people. Through these groups I have become acquainted with over 100 kids who are transgender here in Utah. I know of at least 2 or 3 in every high school in Utah County. I employ a transgender 16 year old kid in my real estate business. 

NONE of these kids wants to be in a situation where they have to strip down for a shower or anything like that. They want to fit in and plainly a vagina in a boys locker room is going to draw unwanted attention. Most of these kids have been afforded either an exemption from gym at school or they are given a separate place to shower. This is what they want. HOWEVER... when it comes to needing to pee... they just need to pee. They have been doing this forever.

I guarantee that each of us have been in the bathroom with transgender people. My estimation is that there are about 900,000 transgender people in the USA but some conservative group was complaining about us having to capitulate to the less than 1%. They said the number was .085 of our population... which means that they were estimating that there were 28,305,000 transgender people in the US. (That seems a bit excessive to me but if we presume that there are that many and they each use a public restroom once per day you are looking at more than 10 BILLION trips to public restrooms by transgender people per year. If there are 900,000 trans people that number is more like 330 Million but still... we have been peeing with trans people for a long long time and have had no idea. It just is not a big deal to us and all of this IS a big deal to them. 


These bathroom laws restricting transgender kids from using the bathroom that they identify with have many issues. Charlotte NC's city council just passed an ordinance that basically is completely opposite what North Carolina's HB2 as far as bathroom use for trans people goes. The governor there wrote the city council a letter that states that this will create all kinds of issues... and it will. The federal government is suing NC, NC is sueing them back, and it looks like they will also sue the city of Charlotte. 

These ordinances will NOT affect transgender adults. They will continue to do what they have always done and no one will be the wiser. They do however affect trans kids where the school and their teachers actually do act as the potty police as they do know the kids birth gender. This leaves these very vulnerable kids in a very bad place where they are further singled out. My own kid has been dealing with suicidal ideation... Several of the transgender teens have attempted suicide and just two days ago one parent in one of these parenting groups stated that her transgender daughter had committed suicide. 

These laws... are passed under the guise of protection... The one in Charlotte allows for trans people to use the restroom of their gender. This is the safest route. It keeps bearded men like myself from walking into a ladies room and stating that I was as uncomfortable as all of them were but that I had been born female. With HB2 I could claim that... and I would not even have to try to change my appearance. 

I'll happily leave you with some parting information to hopefully help 'alleviate’ the fears that statistics have shown are irrational and overblown (lets remember there are plenty of people that still believe in the existence of Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster, so 'alleviate' is all in the eye of the beholder). Its difficult to overcome a negative impression when outlets like FOX News, Media Research, Breitbart, Barbwire are spreading sensationalized, and proven false stories about this very topic, but here goes...

Colorado passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte just passed in 2008. And the state has seen no increase in bathroom related attacks or sexual assaults. None. Six years after the law was passed, Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Abuse director Alexa Priddy called any safety fears around fluid bathrooms "completely unsubstantiated."

Connecticut passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 2011. Not a single complaint in relation to the bill and bathroom harassment or assaults has been reported in CT since the law went into effect.

Hawaii passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 2006. There have been no bathroom assaults, rapes or related incidents related to the passing of the law, and no increase in sexual assaults or rapes in women’s restrooms.

Iowa passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 2007. There have been no increases in bathroom assaults, rapes or related incidents since the bill’s inception. A year ago, the Des Moines Police Chief was asked if he’d seen a single case related to the law. His response: "We have not seen that. I doubt that's gonna encourage the behavior. If the behavior's there, [sexual predators are] gonna behave as they're gonna behave no matter what the laws are.”

Maine passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 2005. There have been no increases in bathroom bathroom assaults, rapes or related incidents in the 10 years since.

Cambridge, Massachusetts passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 1997. Twenty years later, there hasn’t been a single reported incident of someone abusing the law or a single man dressing up as women to commit crimes in female bathrooms, even though that was the primary concern and argument against the ordinance from the public before the law went .

The city of Boston (Amherst and Northampton) passed a bathroom ordinance in 2011. Jane Doe (sexual assault victims organization) spokesman Toni Troop said, "The argument that providing transgender rights will result in an increase of sexual violence against women or men in public bathrooms is beyond specious. The only people at risk are the transgender men and women whose rights to self-determination, dignity and freedom of violence are too often denied. We have not heard of any problems since the passage of the law in Massachusetts, nor do we expect this to be a problem."

Minnesota passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 1993. State police have reported zero incidents of abuse of the law or bathroom assaults, rapes or related incidents since the law’s inception. Based on the state’s zero incident track record with the law, Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder referred to the fears of decreased safety relating to this law as “silly.”

Nevada passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 2011. There have been no increases in bathroom assaults, rapes or related incidents since the law took effect. When asked if the law had lead to increase in sexual assaults or rapes, Las Vegas PD spokesman Jesse Roybal stated, "the answer would be no.”

New Mexico passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 2003. There have been no increases in bathroom assaults or rapes since the law took effect. The Albuquerque Police Department stated last year that they are 'unaware of any cases of assault as a result of transgendered accommodations.’

Oregon passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 2007. They have reported zero incidents of bathroom assaults, rapes or related incidents since.

Rhode Island passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 2001. Not a single reported incident in relation to the law since it took effect 15 years ago.

Vermont passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 2007. Again, no reported incidents relating to the passing of the law.

Washington passed the same bathroom ordinance Charlotte passed in 2006. There has been one complaint on record relating to this law, and that was a conservative white male heterosexual entering a women’s locker room as a form of political protest against the law.

That’s it folks. Twenty years of bathroom access across more than a dozen US states. No creepers. No pervs. No assaults. No worst case scenarios of sexual assault mayhem in any of the jurisdictions that protect transgender bathroom access rights. Beyond this list, there are numerous other cities and municipalities that also have had zero instances, and no upticks in incidents by allowing transgender access. And every single protest and dissent against the potential passing of these laws cited potential safety concerns and increased violations against women and children in restrooms and locker rooms. Yet none have been substantiated since they became law.

And in every new municipality this ordinance discussion enters, the exact same fears are brought up again and again. The Citizens of Utah are not trailblazers with their fear of transgender bathroom access. But we do have a huge pool of historical data regarding this topic to look back on. Now whether we choose to do so or not is up to you. But when passing legislation, context and statistics should be taking into consideration, not discarded and ignored.

Believe me, I can already hear the mass dismissal of this information as not relevant because apparently the belief is only sexually deviant savages just waiting to be unleashed live in the state of Utah. There’s no data to support that theory, but that hasn’t stopped the opposition to these laws as unsafe and an inconvenient threat to safety and privacy. And even with the facts in hand, I’m sure it won’t stop people from believing its still a huge safety risk tonight.

Contrast that with the thousands of clergy (Over 3,000 US Catholic priests alone, according to the Vatican) who have been accused or convicted of child abuse and sexual assaults since just the 2000’s. Or the recent news story where a guy in Lehi was caught taking pictures of young boys in an LDS Church. How many people feel unsafe taking their children to church? How many people stopped leaving their children unsupervised at church? How many people demanded the state pass laws stopping clergy or white males from being alone unsupervised with children? How many church related laws have been put into place to protect the safety of children? Compare this with the history of legalized transgender bathroom access in the US and the lack of any data to support the irrational fear associated with it, we still believe that transgender bathroom access is the real problem we need to protect our wife and kids from. And the pandora’s box it will supposedly open (yet hasn’t). Folks, it doesn’t make any sense.

There is evil out there in the world. No one argues that fact. There are evil people that will commit evil crimes against innocent people. But 86% of children victims of sex crimes know their perpetrator. 9 out of 10 women victims are sexually assaulted by someone they have had some sort of relationship with. Sex crime perpetrators should be locked away for life in my book. But if you really want to stem the tide of sexual assaults and protect women and children, stop looking in the wrong place where the numbers will tell you and your common sense beliefs that there’s absolutely nothing to see here. Start looking for the real threat areas, scenarios and perpetrators, and stop waging war against the proven innocent under this bogus guise of ‘safety.' There’s not an ounce of substance to this witch hunt.

If the above information about other states and the law’s history don’t at least give you pause that maybe the fear mongering we are seeing here due to Obama's mandate could conceivably be just a little irrational and unsubstantiated, then there was no need to continue this discussion any further anyway. Because you're probably preparing for bed right now and setting your outdoor booby traps for Sasquatch. Its a hard job keeping all the imaginary boogeymen at bay. Its also a waste of time.

Good night all. May Big Foot not stir you from your sleep.


P.S. These articles and websites may be of interest. 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2015/02/13/mormons_and_transgender_elder_dallin_h_oaks_says_the_lds_church_is_open.html

www.mormonsandgays.org

Drew Armstrong, Broker, Armstrong, Flinders & Associates Realtors PLLC
ABR, GRI, CRS, CSP, ePro, CLHMS, SFR
#1 Resale Real Estate Team Countywide 2000-NOW 
Cell: 801-636-3739
Office: 801-375-1075
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