An Open Letter to Elizabeth Warren

Posted: September 7, 2012 in Gender, Politics
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dear Professor Warren,

I woke up this morning thinking about the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.  I remembered how attuned we were, as a party, to the needs of those on the margins.  As those on the right accuse us of godlessness (and I admit, I myself am an atheist), I saw people preaching the true message of Christ and professing the values our nation is built on: that yes, we are our brother’s keeper, and yes, we are in this together.  That together, we are greater than the sum of all our parts.  You quoted a piece of scripture in your speech that resonated with what I think we stand for as a party.

You said: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  And you explicated the passage well, stating that the passage “teaches about God in each of us, that we are bound to each other and we are called to act.”  You, along with the rest of the speakers, reached out to those on the margins – the poor, the homeless, the undocumented, the disabled, the LGBT community, and the various racial communities that make up our great nation.  You drove home the point that health care is a fundamental human right that no one in this country should go without.  Because of this, I woke up and donated $20 to your campaign.

Then I saw Scott Brown’s response to the Michelle Kosilek case; he called it “an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars” and I said (publicly) that this was yet another reason I would not be voting for Senator Brown.  Certainly, transgender folks are treated as some of the “least of these my brethren.”  The prison community even more so.  And for a woman who has been forced to live her life as a male by a society that refuses to understand the needs of gender minorities – for a woman who has been forced to live in an all-male prison – for a woman who has repeatedly self-mutilated and attempted suicide over the lack of medical care (again, something we as a party deem a fundamental human right) – I knew that you would understand Kosilek’s plight.

So I was surprised today to learn that you agree with Senator Brown.  Surprised and disheartened, really, after what I found to be such a great convention speech.  Although you weren’t as blustering as Senator Brown, you told WTKK the following: “I have to say, I don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars.”  It’s true that this is the sentiment of many of our friends and neighbors who do not understand transgender issues.  It’s true that, in an election year, it might have been political suicide to come out in favor of trans rights (especially in the case of Kosilek, a murderer who garners little public support).  But there was an out for you, Professor; you could have simply deferred to the medical expertise of those in the prison system who stated that this was medically necessary treatment.  Certainly the great people of Massachusetts don’t want the Government intervening in the decision of doctors, right?  Isn’t that everyone’s great fear about “ObamaCare” – that bureaucrats will be deciding the treatment of Americans?

I know that you would not deny anyone the chemotherapy to cure their cancer, or the medicine to control blood pressure, or the drugs to treat depression.  Why then would we withhold treatment for someone who has fought the last twenty years trying to live as a woman the treatment the medical community has deemed necessary.  We do not allow prisoners to fund their own care; we take on that obligation as a state and as a nation.  That means that we cannot withhold treatment, even from – especially from – “the least of these my brethren.”  What Michelle Kosilek did to her wife was deplorable; it’s easy to hate her, and seek vengeance against her by denying her treatment.  But that’s not who we are, nor is it who I think you want us to be.

Trans folks face some of the worst treatment our society has to offer, and to keep her in an all-male facility, and to deny her the care she needs, sets her up for further suicide attempts, further attempts at self-mutilation, further attempts at rape and abuse.  The Bill of Rights protects every American from cruel and unusual punishment – even those on the extreme margins of our society – and I would hope that a candidate as progressive as yourself would recognize that this is not about an operation; this is about a human being.  It’s about our own humanity as we remember what a Reagan-appointed federal judge remembered: that we love our neighbors, that judgment is not our prerogative, and that – with God in each of us – we are called to act.


Resources for those trying to understand trans issues:


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