When Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner (R-7) attacked transgender Virginians, they attacked their own constituents and they attacked children who call Virginia their home.
When former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie attacked transgender Virginians, he did so as the presumed front-runner of the Republican race whose discriminatory stance singles out thousands of Virginians who mean no harm and cause no harm to anyone.
All three Republican gubernatorial candidates are trying to mainstream the discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ worldview Del. Bob Marshall (R-13) champions and that his own party in the House of Delegates defeated six times during the last two years.
As a lifelong Manassas resident, a longtime community journalist and the first transgender person ever to qualify for a ballot in Virginia, I know we need to make Virginia a more inclusive commonwealth, not bring North Carolina-style policies discriminatory toward our people.
Transgender people are part of Virginia’s culture and social fabric just as much as anyone else. Our mere presence in a restroom does not harm anyone. There has never been a single reported case in United States history of a transgender person sexually assaulting someone in a restroom yet transgender people are often the victims of violent crimes, including sexual assault, in restrooms.
It’s dangerous to single out and stigmatize our residents with legislative priorities that perpetuate the false narrative that transgender people aren’t who we and our doctors say that we are.
It leads to dehumanization and violence against transgender people. I know: I’ve covered two brutal murders of young transgender women. We cannot allow this to become mainstream ideology in Virginia.
The Republican candidates for governor this weekend targeted children, they attacked my LGBTQ volunteers and they cast our commonwealth as an unwelcoming place to do business, live as your authentic sense of self without harming anyone else and raise a family. The so-called “pro-family” Republicans candidates are anything but that when they attack transgender parents like me and transgender children like my volunteers Robbie and Clara.
I’ve known Corey Stewart for 11 years. I interviewed him dozens of times as a reporter for the Gainesville Times from the time he ran for county chairman during the 2006 special election through his last run in 2015. He knows me personally, I’ve talked with him face-to-face multiple times since coming out, and how he acted then versus how he’s acting now are as if he’s not even the same person. He should know better than to discriminate against his own constituents and as a Prince William County resident, the intolerance he’s expressed toward Muslims, Latinos, African Americans and LGBTQ Virginians is shameful.
Lastly, as a lifelong Virginian, I’ve called Prince William County home since I was born at Prince William Hospital in 1984. Corey moved here in 1999. I’ve been a part of Virginia’s culture 15 years longer than him and I have no interest lecturing people about who does and doesn’t belong in our culture. We are all Virginians. We are one commonwealth.
“And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” – John F. Kennedy (June 10, 1963)