Tell me if this looks familiar.
I grew up in a conservative environment in Central Texas. I played high school football. I went to an evangelical church in my late teens (where, unsurprisingly, my political views were not warmly received). And I served in the military — and not just in the military but in the testosterone-saturated U.S. Army Infantry.
No! It doesn’t! This is opposite-me. I grew up in a liberal household in the Pacific Northwest, I didn’t play football, I didn’t go to church, and I didn’t join the military. But this is a piece by Charlotte Clymer, who is pissed off at this terrible PE coach in Virginia who insists he won’t recognize his students’ choice of pronouns, because it is against his religion
Leaving aside the fact that the discussion of transgender people in the Bible is quite murky (and rather fascinating)—and thus, as more than a few social conservatives have admitted to me, it’s unclear being transgender is a so-called “sin”—we’re still left with a public employee charged with the welfare of children stating before God and Creation that he refuses to treat certain children with respect and dignity. That, in fact, is abusive.
So what’s familiar? This:
And without fail, men like Tanner Cross would—in some way, shape, or form—call me a girl. They weren’t just the first people to call me a girl. They were the only people to call me a girl or woman before I came out.
Like my 8th grade football coach who really loved calling us “ladies” during practice.
Like my freshman football coach who never seemed to tire of telling us that we “hit like girls” if he felt we weren’t going at full speed.
Like the assistant football coach during my junior year of high school who, on more than a few occasions, said some choice words about how we should try out for the girls volleyball team instead. Oh, and this mocking inquiry toward one of my teammates: “Did your mother teach you how to throw?”
Like during minute one of hour one of day one in basic training when I heard a drill sergeant scream at all of us to “get the sand out of your pussies”. And that was probably one of the more tame things I heard along these lines during my time in the military.
Yes, all those sports movies where male coaches yell at their players with some flavor of misogynistic “encouragement”? Those scenes are based in reality.
I heard that all my life in male environments, and that’s to say nothing of the numerous ways in which society communicates to boys that they shouldn’t cry, shouldn’t appear weak, be the “man of the house”, etc.
Oh yeah. It took me a while to consciously realize it, but public school physical education was all about terrible human beings put in charge of young kids for a few hours a day, where they were committed to indoctrinating us in toxic masculinity and constantly abusing us to make us tough. Coach would call us “pussies”, “fags”, “girls”, “ladies”, “girly boys”, and comment on the contents of our jock strap while doing daily inspections of said jock straps. It was several years of state-sponsored indoctrination that was highly effective, and many of my peers gladly adopted that language and attitude. I could escape Coach fairly easily, but not all my fellow teenagers who echoed that nonsense.
You know, I kind of suspect that one of the primary tools for perpetuating poisonous versions of masculinity is that our schools have a habit of hiring macho assholes like this guy, Tanner Cross. Our communities, perhaps especially in Texas, consider sports to be the whole purpose of an education, and to that end, they “need” tough guys to kick the kids into shape. All they accomplish, though, is to turn a majority of kids away from athletics.
Fire that guy. Or should I say, cancel Tanner Cross. He’s a bad teacher.