Today I am at the state house protesting South Carolina’s proposed bathroom bill, and so I am forgoing a regular blog post. For those of you who haven’t heard of this, a law has been proposed to keep trans people from using bathrooms that correspond to their gender. This puts them at greater risk of violence, creates a precedent for discrimination, and aggravates gender dysphoria for many. It also happens to impact a number of people who I care about deeply.
I’m not going to pretend that this blog isn’t political. All writing is political. Fiction teaches us affect. It shapes how we understand and interact with the world, and it has immense power to both normalize and other.
This legislation is driven by hatred and fear. Regardless of whatever other political factors are at work, it would not have gotten this far if not for those two things. Empathy is the natural enemy of both. Fiction fosters empathy and exposes readers to different view points but it doesn’t work if we silence the stories of trans people.
It’s easy to close our eyes and say that we can avoid politics by leaving out marginalized groups. But all stories are stories about gender. All stories are stories about race. All stories are stories about class, sexuality, and disability. When we refuse to write about marginalized populations, we tell the story of their ongoing erasure.
This is not another article on the importance of representation in fiction. It’s a call to arms. As writers, it’s up to us to think about what stories we’re telling. It’s also up to us to listen, and to enable silenced communities to tell their own stories. We have the ability to rewrite the social script and to teach readers to perceive the world in a different way. If we don’t use that power, we consent to the systematic oppression of people everywhere.
As a writer, you have the tools to stage a revolution. It’s up to you to rise up and use them.
For more information on how the South Carolina state government would like to enact institutionalized discrimination against one of the populations most in need of legal protection, here’s some information on bill S.1203:
- For the actual bill, to get an unbiased look at this legislative atrocity, click here.
- For some articles that explain why the bill is horrible, click here, here, and here.
- To see some badass South Carolinian teenagers calling out the government on discrimination, click here.
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