Gender Prejudice and Elected Officials

Gender Prejudice and Elected Officials

By Robert Scott

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

As a society, we always need to be on guard against prejudice regarding “the other,” people who are different from “us” and are easy to categorize as “them.” This is a prejudice we inherited from our hunter-gatherer ancestors because, back then, people who weredifferent from themselves really were a threat. Their survival, like one’s own, depended on taking what could be taken and then moving on to live another day. One way to view history is to see it as gradually expanding the definition of “us” to include one’s village, then one’s nation, and then eventual recognition that for social purposes, at least, there really is no “them.” We are all “us.”

And yet some innate prejudices are still there, somehow. One that continues to defy the all-encompassing definition of “us” concerns gender prejudice, especially when “the other” are those who come to the realization, as they mature, that they fit best into one of the categories of LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Many 21st century nations, the United States thankfully among them, have now outlawed discrimination based on LGBT status in most public areas, including basic citizenship venues like the voting booth, employment both public and private, admission to public education from kindergarten through graduate schools, and within the military services. Unfortunately, some of our South Carolina elected officials don’t seem to have gotten the word – and their prejudices affect not just themselves; they can affect all of us. Here are two examples.

Television’s current Jeopardy champion is Amy Schneider, who is being celebrated as the woman contestant who has amassed more winnings, well over $1 million, than any other in the program’s history. Not worth mentioning in most settings, Ms. Schneider is a transgender woman, who transitioned from male status long ago. But that is worth mentioning, apparently, to South Carolina’s Third District congressman – the man who represents Edgefield and Saluda counties, among others – Rep. Jeff Duncan. He had a series of Twitter posts not disputing Ms. Schneider’s talent and success but disputing her gender. Why our congressmanfelt the need to jump into social media specifically to address that rather trivial fact – is the current Jeopardy champion “really” a woman? – is beyond me; but it certainly betrays Jeff Duncan’s anti-LGBT prejudice.

Our South Carolina legislators have many more important issues on their plates this session, but nevertheless at least one, Sen. Josh Kimbrell of Spartanburg, is pushing legislation that would allow doctors to refuse medical service to LGBT patients if such service conflicted with the physician’s expressed religious or moral beliefs. For example (cited by The State in a recent article), a psychologist who believes that the gender at birth must prevail even for transgender patients would be able to refuse service to such patients. We don’t allow that as a society for physicians who are prejudiced against patients based on race, but this bill would allow doctors to discriminate against those whose LGBT status (or not) is different from their own.

There are many factors that go into an individual voter’s decision. Here is one for all of us to consider this political year. Where do our Edgefield County 2022 candidates stand regarding gender prejudice?