On Monday, a group of young men, said to be high school students from nearby, of the The American Society of the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP) gathered on Bloomsburg University’s campus to protest “transgenderism” and transgender bathrooms in schools. The group gathered outside of Northumberland residence hall, the residence building which hosts all-gender bathrooms and many LGBTQ students. The group handed out pamphlets explaining the “10 Reasons Why Transgenderism Is the Family’s Worst Enemy.”
Quickly, students from the BU LGBTQ Resource Center set up an information table, providing not only knowledge, but love and support as well. Other BU students came with rainbow flags, signs reading things like “love is my religion” and some even wore angel wings, made famous by people blocking out hatred of the extremist Westboro Baptist Church’s protest at the Orlando shooting memorial and during the trials of Matthew Shepard’s murder.
There was a police officer nearby, but neither side became violent. For the most part, I witnessed students having civil conversations even though anger and annoyance was expressed by both sides.
Eileen Zajac, a BU newswriting student was able to speak to some of the students at the protest. Student Anika Eskin said, “The protest was annoying. The men were in the pathway to class and they were trying to hand me flyers while I was on the phone with my mother.” Another student, Nick Mazzio told Zajac, “Jesus loves everyone no matter his or her religion, race, or sexual orientation.”
Zajac also stated, “[TFP] were not only playing bag pipes, holding signs, and preaching their beliefs, but also handing out pamphlets explaining why transgenderism is morally wrong.” She explained that, “The pamphlets were read by some, but tore up by most students and used as confetti or put on a popular social media application, Snapchat.”
I was angered by the hatred I was seeing as one of my GroupChats blew up with images of the TFP’s protest. I was quickly relieved and proud to see how many students fought the hatred with the only thing that defeats it, per MLK, love.
I stood back, took pictures, and conversed with my friends and peers about the ignorance of the TFP. Finally, I decided it was worth it to try to hear them out and I asked for a pamphlet. I was appalled by what I read. Their denouncements of “transgenderism” included claims like “[it] is tyrannical,” “it fuels child abuse,” “it contradicts biology and science,” “it warps manhood and womanhood,” and “it offends God.” I was infuriated, but calmly tried to ask the TFP representatives where they got information which backed these claims as no reputable sources were listed and no statistics. I was shocked to hear responses like “there are facts, I just don’t know them. But I’ve seen them.” How does one stand up for something they passionately believe in so unprepared? I was also told “statistics and facts are not needed for something to be true.” Actually, son, they are needed. How else is something proven to be true?
As for their claim that being transgender “warps manhood and womanhood,” that is ridiculous. It is not the 1950’s. Men are not expected to be the masculine breadwinners and women are good for more than cooking and birthing. It is widely accepted that gender is a social construct. Sex and gender are not the same, which is something I learned is heavily denounced by the TFP as I conversed with them and listened to their conversations with others.
They claim in their pamphlet that being transgender is a perversion of religion and it is immoral, contradictory to science, and plain wrong. They claim that anyone who speaks this “truth” is labeled as a homophobe or transphobe. No, that is not just a label you are given. If you think the way the TFP does, you are both homophobic and transphobic.
I was glad to see as I was walking from my classes Monday night that students had written messages of solidarity and love with chalk in the places that the TFP hate group stood.
The final part of the TFP’s pamphlet explains how being trans offends God. Well, I am Catholic, a believer in God, and a supporter of LGBTQ individuals. We are all God’s children. We are all loved. God loves EVERYONE. He is not offended by someone embracing who they are and being the person He made them to be. He is offended by people who preach hate. People who preach love, acceptance, and want nothing more than to be themselves and feel safe in being so, are not people who will be condemned by the Lord. Those people who preach hate toward groups of people for being who they are…well they better really think about how God feels about them before they tell anyone else they’re going to burn in hell.