Monday, September 23, 2013

Homecoming Queen

There's a new homecoming queen in California.  She's 16, she's outgoing and gregarious.  Oh, and she's transgendered.  This has been made to be quite an achievement, and in some ways, it is.  Now, I'm not going to mention her name or show her picture, for reasons that should be clear in a moment.  Besides, this is the Internet, you can find those things easily enough.

This is a fairly unique occasion, a transgendered girl being elected homecoming queen.  (I'm going to call her "the queen" here in this post, because I don't want to use her name.)  I can find only one other that has been elected, while doing a fairly cursory search.  And it's quite a celebration for "the cause."  The cause, you say?  Transgender acceptance, tolerance, all those things.  As you may have guessed, I'm about to take issue with that.

Here's a 16 year old girl, with a rather uncommon problem that she's dealing with.  One that is well known, though, in general.  For whatever reason, she's nominated for homecoming queen, and she goes ahead with it.  Lots of girls would, it would be quite something to be elected homecoming queen.  So we're not so far out of the ordinary yet.

And then she wins!  Congratulations, sincerely, to her.  Only one is chosen each year at a school, so this is something special.  This is great.  Until...

Someone, somewhere in her life decided that this was a great thing to share with the world.  The news media got wind of it, through someone contacting them, or through the grapevine.  The school, even if they didn't contact the media, had no trouble welcoming them to the school and interviewing the queen.  The queen obliged, too; wouldn't you like all the attention?  I'd probably be happy and want to share how I felt about it, too.  She was happy to be an example, how she did this for so many others around the nation.  Another student said how they thought it was cool that they allowed (emphasis mine) her to run, and that it's a really good thing.  Hmm.

So we have this girl, elected queen, and how fantastic it is that these people were so cool to allow such a thing.  Um, OK.  Then the story was picked up.  It made the news.  It was carried to the national news.  Transgender activists and bloggers hailed this as progress, articles were published about the great stride that this was. It made... the Internet.

You can see where we're headed now, can't you?  What happens to virtually every news story on the Internet?  Oh, the comments section!  I'm not a fan of the comments section, and try to stay away from them, because it could be a story about really cute puppies and the comments would degenerate into political mudslinging and insults and "Oh yeah??" one-upsmanship.  Turning loose the Internet Comment Brigade on this girl, well, you can imagine what followed.  I'm not about to excuse these people, they're reprehensible, nasty people, who need to hide behind anonymity to express vile opinions and try to hurt people.  I have no respect for them.  That being said...

Not getting nearly as much coverage now is her reaction to these comments, and the other things she has received via mail, email, and text messages.  Oh, the stories are out there, but not as many.  There's a tearful YouTube video that the queen posted, in which she talks about how she's always judged, wonders if it's worth it, if she should just go back to being a boy and miserable, so people will leave her alone.  This is not what the article writers and news want to report, though.  This won't get the coverage, I'm guessing, that the "great stride" did.

So what are the motives here?  Was there a reason a 16 year old girl was put in an extremely bright spotlight, by people who essentially had nothing to lose?  Yes, there were.  "The cause" is one of them.  There must be progress!  See how our acceptance has grown!  The school wanted to show how really keen and groovy they were, it seems, to the world, for what they did for the queen.  They certainly were more than happy to accommodate the news people being there.  The news people definitely would love such a story, anything controversial sells well and generates interest.

What happens to her?  This 16 year old girl, who was treated to a fantastic high point, and pulled down to miserable low almost instantly, where does she go now?  She's not even out of high school yet, and her picture, name, and the name of her high school are all over the Internet.  It really wouldn't be hard for someone with a real axe to grind to find her now, would it?  And she will forever, forever be the Transgendered Homecoming Queen.  What about five years from now?  Ten?  Fifteen?  She applies for college, she gets interviewed for a job, she meets someone interesting and that person is also interested.  What's becoming more and more common in those situations these days?  Putting a person's name into Google and seeing what comes back.  And there's the Transgendered Homecoming Queen, with a convenient picture.

Ratings?  The cause?  We're really awesome?  They all got what they wanted from this girl, those people who had nothing to lose.  Who looked out for her?  In a week or so, most of the people will have forgotten about the queen, thinking it was a really nice, or what a great story, and that will be that, to them.  They don't have to live with it.  She does, forever.  What are the chances that the queen will ever have a vaguely "normal" life?

Hail progress.

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