A transgender Republican appeals to Baker

Being transgender was never a choice; being Republican is

Dear Gov. Baker,

As I’m sure you’re aware, the topic of transgender accommodation is a pretty hot button issue lately. I feel the discussion around it is getting more heated, more emotional, and more vitriolic by the day. It’s understandable. As far as discourse goes, it’s a complex issue to understand. For most, gender identity is one of those core tenets of what gives us a sense of humanity.

Let me clarify, that doesn’t mean transgender people are anything less than human and deserve to be demonized in the midst of this conversation. On the contrary, we should be working to understand our transgender neighbors and towards integrating them into society with the same respect afforded to any non-transgender person.

I’m like you, governor. I’m a Republican. I joined the party because I believe in the importance of having multiple voices on Beacon Hill, that fiscal responsibility is an important quality to have when discussing spending, and, most importantly, the role that government has in defending the welfare of its citizens and the individual.

You could say that I’m not the model Republican, and I can think of a few in the party who definitely would make that argument. I don’t subscribe to our current social policies and, like many people, have pet issues that are important to me. But that’s the beauty of our party. We’re a big tent, filled with many different wings. Even if we don’t always agree, we know to treat one another with respect and dignity.

Or rather, that’s what I told myself again and again over the years when I became the secretary of my Republican Town Committee (an entity that I helped to reform); when the same committee endorsed my appointment to the Charlton Registrar of Voters; when I sat in front of you at the 2014 Republican state convention as a delegate; when I stood by you in the State House, clutching an invitation sent to me by your inaugural committee; and when I worked to elect Republicans to public office, a group to which I myself now belong.

Now, assuming you didn’t read the title, you might be wondering why any of this matters. Well, governor, I’m transgender. I’ve been transgender my entire life, although I started living openly and authentically with myself just this past year. Hear me out, though, when I say it’s something I knew from the first day I had a conceivable notion of what it meant to be anything, to this very moment that my fingers strike the keys of my laptop.

Jordan Evans

Jordan Evans

First, let me say that this wasn’t a choice. It was never a choice. I could write a list of things I’d rather be doing today instead of trying to appeal to you over this issue, but can’t because we live in a society where we need to have discussions over things that aren’t choices.

Being a Republican, however, is a choice, a choice I made that continues to confuse so many of my transgender friends and family, who feel a personal sense of betrayal over the actions of our party. It’s a choice that they have every right to criticize because of the policies we’ve been enacting across the country, and the positions of our national party. It’s a choice I made because, even though I share their pain and frustration, I want to believe that I wasn’t wrong about this party and that we’ll make the moral choice at the end of the day.

The truth is, governor, I’ve found the average Republican is increasingly borrowing from the libertarian handbook when it comes to social issues. This humanistic outlook on what other people do with their own life is a trait that I respect and admire within the party, which is why your reluctance to defend the rights of our transgender citizens to live authentically confuses me. How can we claim we’re for protecting the safety and freedoms of the individual when we’ve become complicit in letting our society create a caste of second class citizens?

I know that isn’t your intention, but it’s the reality in which we live. Every transgender person forced to use a facility that doesn’t line up with their gender identity is opened up to ridicule, sexual harassment, or worse. Every day we give someone the opportunity to turn away a transgender person from a public service is another day where we’re tolerating the same arguments used in the era of Jim Crow. Every passing moment where nothing is done is a passive endorsement of separating transgender people from the rest of society.

Maybe there’s a reason why I feel like I’m the only Republican trying to make a case with you. Maybe this is actually my political death knell captured in print. Maybe, after writing this, I haven’t added anything that you aren’t already mulling over. It’s disheartening, but I like to imagine that, on the other hand, maybe I have.

Meet the Author

Jordan Evans

Library trustee, Town of Charlton
Gov. Baker, I leave you with this. You’re not like your colleagues in other states who’ve signed bills putting innocent transgender people in the path of danger. You’ve shown you have a willingness to self-educate and evolve on this very important issue, which is why I hope you consider my words. I know you said you need time, but we have an obligation to ensure the basic decency and safety of our fellow Bay Staters, and, honestly, if we’re not fighting for the welfare and decency of every citizen, then what are we fighting for?

Jordan Evans is an elected library trustee for the town of Charlton and the Republican member of her local Registrar of Voters.