Recently I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and came across a post from a former high school classmate of mine who'd served in the military. They wrote about President Chump's (oops, I meant President Trump. Or DID I?) ban on transgender people in the military.
HS Classmate wrote a long post about how they felt the ban was fair and the right thing to do, and listed all the reasons that transgender people deserved to be discriminated against. They argued that transgender people belonged in mental institutions, not the military.
I learned from firsthand experience that it's never a good idea to argue with people on the Internet. But this time I couldn't hold my tongue. I wrote on HS Classmate's post that it wasn't fair to discriminate against people, that they weren't mentally ill, and that they deserved to be treated with respect.
I thought of the transgender people I'd met in Chicago, who were funny, kind, talented, and beautiful. I thought of the transgender student in my class this year, who confided in me about how they'd been kicked out of their house by their parents after coming out as transgender. I thought of the transgender people who sang and danced on floats in the Pride Parade in Chicago and how no one there made them feel ashamed for being who they were.
But HS Classmate kept ranting about transgender people. When I shared an article on FB that discredited several of the claims they made about them, they filled up my Facebook page with several condescending retorts and more lengthy rants. I informed HS Classmate that no matter what they said or posted, they would never change my mind.
HS Classmate claimed that they had a right to their beliefs, and several of their FB friends agreed with them and joined in on attacking my comments that defended transgender soldiers and insulted me personally, though they'd never met me. HS Classmate didn't tell them to back off, of course, but seemed to revel in the attention.
I know that everyone has a right to their beliefs, including that person. But I still think it's wrong to use your beliefs as justification to discriminate against other people and deny them rights that they should be (and are) entitled to.
Now that I'm moving to College Town, I'll be living just a few hours away from the small Midwestern hometown where I grew up, where this person still lives. It's possible I'll run into them, and I'm willing to bet that they'll try to get me to talk about this. If they do, I'll say this:
"You have a right to your beliefs, and I have a right to mine. For example, my belief is that you're a Trump-supporting, InfoWars believing, Breitbart reading, conspiracy theory spouting, gay bashing, transgender hating BIGOT who's never been discriminated against a day in your life and is so threatened by people who aren't exactly like you that you feel the need to try to control them and put them down for being who they are. But again, that's just my opinion. So, how've you been since high school?"
One of my other high school classmates asked this person what impact transgender soldiers had had on their service in the military when they were on active duty. But HS Classmate didn't respond, perhaps because they didn't have a valid response to it.
The whole thing made me angry, and I unfollowed (but did not unfriend) this person on Facebook. If and when I do see them again and if they argue with me about this issue again, I might "accidentally" spill a hot beverage on them and/or "accidentally" make them trip and fall. But I digress.
What about you? How do you deal with people whose political views differ from your own?"
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