“Let it go,” I’ve told myself for hours and hours. “It’s not worth the emotional and mental effort to respond,” I’ve said to myself. “And,” I reminded myself, “never feed the trolls.”
And usually I can heed that advice when the trolls are clearly trolls, jumping out from dark cyber corners with such vile ugliness that you know every other stable intellect in view is rolling their eyes at them. But what do you do with a troll that smiles and shakes your hand and travels in the same social-political circles? With a troll that would not necessarily be universally identified as such?
Almost from the moment Mavis Taintor announced her candidacy as a Democrat aiming to challenge Dave LaRock for the 33rd House Delegate seat, Matthew Gallelli [and a few other “progressive” folks] launched a negative campaign of innuendo, rumor, and “facts” stripped of context in order to persuade people that Mavis was some kind of trojan horse, a “fake” democrat who for some reason was hell-bent on robbing Tia Walbridge of her evidently preordained right to be the Democratic candidate simply because Tia had announced first. For the most part, myself and others who were taking the time to learn about both candidates ignored this nonsense.
For my part, I met and researched both candidates. Even before either had announced their candidacy, I had already made a personal vow to myself that I would dedicate myself to unseating LaRock in 2017. 18 months ago, my seventeen year old came and told me that she was a transgender young woman. I had no inkling that such a revelation was coming. It has been quite a learning process for our entire family. I am proud of my daughter for claiming her truth and living authentically. And I am also very, very scared for her. In the last year and one half I have learned:
“Statistics documenting transgender people’s experience of sexual violence indicate shockingly high levels of sexual abuse and assault. One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives.1 Some reports estimate that transgender survivors may experience rates of sexual assault up to 66 percent, often coupled with physical assaults or abuse.2 This indicates that the majority of transgender individuals are living with the aftermath of trauma and the fear of possible repeat victimization.”
I have learned:
Transgender people are four times more likely than the general population to report living in extreme poverty, making less than $10,000 per year, a standing that sometimes pushes them to enter the dangerous trade of sex work. Nearly 80% of transgender people report experiencing harassment at school when they were young. As adults, some report being physically assaulted trains and buses, in retail stores and restaurants.
I have learned that “90% of transgender people had experienced harassment in the workplace.”
I have witnessed the election of Donald Trump and saw him prioritize – within his first month in office — dismantling the federal protections for transgender students that were established by the Obama administration.
And I have seen my elected representative repeatedly display bigotry when describing LGBTQ people as “abnormal,” exhibiting “bad behavior,” and “inappropriate” LaRock is quoted in newspapers as saying, “There is an abundance of credible information indicating that the homosexual and transgender lifestyles are harmful to kids and adults.”[i] And, that “a Board of Supervisors’ proposed resolution to recognize LGBT Pride Month in Loudoun ‘promotes homosexuality and gender confusion to people of all ages’ and could be ‘used to promote, affirm and recruit young school-aged children to those lifestyles.’ “ He has called homosexuality and being transgender a “treatable disorder” and repeatedly uses disavowed and discredited “research” to prop up his claims that children need to be protected from this “lifestyle.”
It is my opinion that any person that holds the above views is unqualified in principle to represent his fellow Americans. It is a moral abomination that this man is my and my daughter’s elected representative. Not only does he not represent our interests, his beliefs are a clear and present danger to my daughter and other transgender people. My support of the Taintor campaign is deeply personal and not colored by any theoretical or “political” interests.
Unseating LaRock was and is my sole criteria in determining which candidate I chose to support, with my time, with my money, and with my voice. After careful consideration, I chose to support Mavis Taintor and I have made an effort to share with others, both personally and publicly, why. In doing so, I have attracted the persistent attention of Matthew Gallelli and other Wallbridge supporters. Rather than explain why they are supporting Tia, they repeatedly share the same out-of-context accusations against Mavis, over and over, despite myself and others explaining and refuting those accusations explicitly and point by point.
This, in itself, is tiresome but it is their right. And frankly I was content to let these conversations speak for themselves, allowing other readers the opportunity to hear both sides and come to their own conclusions.
Until twice in the last 12 hours, Matthew Gallelli posted some iteration of “the lady doth protest too much” in my direction.
Yes, I protest, Mr. Gallelli. I protest your glib and superficial and slimy innuendo posted over and over and over again and your continued inability to actually make a substantive claim that you can articulate and defend. I protest you using these tactics in a Democratic primary at a time when people of good conscience are resisting forces that want to divide us and harm the most vulnerable amongst us and undermine our basic democratic institutions.
I protest your tactics and your ethics, but most of all I protest your chauvinism and condescension. How dare you? This lady doth indeed protest, and if may allude to another literary work, next time when confronted with the choice I suggest you choose the tiger. You may sustain less damage.
[i] I will not, in this post, address the specious claim that the statistics I quote above about the bigotry and difficulties transgender people face are actual evidence that this assertion might be true. It is a ridiculous and logically faulty argument. It is akin to claiming that being African-American is somehow inherently, essentially unhealthy and offering as evidence the fact that the African-Americans have been the victims of violence and discrimination. It is blaming the victim instead of the bigots.