Culture Wars/Current Controversies

America’s Many Wars On Children

By Nick Reid aka Comrade Hermit

Exile in Happy Valley

It’s hardly unusual for me to take the news personally. It comes like a card with being a journalist with clinical depression. But some weeks the news almost feels tailor made to tare me down and the last few weeks have been like that with one story after another. A flurry of anti-trans laws have been proposed across middle America, seeking to restrict access for gender non-conforming minors to everything from athletics to medical care. Kids are literally drowning at the border just to be packed into shipping containers like sardines if they survive the Rio Grande. And in spite of endless talk of peace, the US continues to back a blockade in Yemen that promises to starve millions of children beneath the age of 5. All this may read like random savagery, but I can’t help but to detect a theme. All three of these stories show a clear disdain for children by the United States Government.

Youth rights has long been a personal crusade of mine because, as a genderqueer youth in a conservative Catholic setting, I suffered the trauma of being perpetually fucked with and stigmatized for reasons I couldn’t even completely comprehend. It’s amazing how many youth rights advocates can say the same and it’s sad that that seems to be what it takes to make adults in this country give a shit about children. If you’re under the age of 18 in this country, you are essentially someone else’s property, either an adult or the state that stands for them. In this country most kids can’t vote, can’t drive, can’t choose where they live or who they live with, can’t step outside unattended after dark, can’t work, and can’t make independent decisions about their education or much of anything else for that matter. They basically have the same rights as house pets and even when Americans crow about their rights, it’s usually just a paternalistic call to infantilize and protect them from their own free will with more restrictions and less autonomy. And it is this total lack of respect for the basic human rights of the young which color all three of the stories above and below.

The trans issue is often badly framed by both sides of the debate. The issue is much bigger than school sports, public bathrooms, and hormones. It comes down to the question of what gives the state the right to determine something as intimate as gender identity? This isn’t a matter of public record, it’s a matter of medical privacy. No one should be given the ability to restrain any individuals access to public facilities or private medical care simply because they happen to be a 40 year old civil servant with boundary issues. It’s as absurd as the entire notion of segregating children on the basis of something as therapeutically fluid as childhood gender expression. If you really want to regulate the athletics of minors, a job that strangely only seems to be available to adults, than do it based on something concrete like weight class and stop humiliating minors based on the nature of their genitalia. It’s fucking perverse and someone has to say it.

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