OPINION, FEB. 19:“SELF IDENTITY”
THE WRONG SIDE
Linda, that was a pretty good letter as far as psycho bigot rants go. I would like to welcome you to the 21st century where people like you are now on the wrong side of history, and your antiquated opinions are actually just wrong. Please keep your hateful thoughts to yourself.
Regarding your letter on "Gender Blind" from Linda Chavez, Mama Bear is mad and sad for those who are ignorant on the issues of gender identity. When my son, Jess Clark, was 8 years old, he told me, "Mama, I don't shop in the girls' department," when we were shopping for school clothes. I admit, I did not understand or see at that time what was happening. I thought, "OK, tomboy," and I let him shop in the boys' department.
I have always taught my kids to be themselves and to be happy. I was not educated on the issue of gender identity, but I did have a clear understanding that it was never OK to tell my kids who and what to be. Linda Chavez wrote this about my son, and I emphasize son, Jess Clark. In addition, Chavez has sent hate mail to my son in the past, which worries me as a parent.
Please, Linda, if you don't agree, don't understand, don't care to understand, go live your life and let others live theirs. How individuals identify themselves has nothing to do whatsoever with you and your spewed hate.
As a parent, Linda, I worry about people like you who could hurt my beautiful child with their words, or as we see on the news every day, harm my child physically. Please, Linda, open your heart to understanding or simply keep your mean thoughts to yourself.
DON'T SPEW HATE
As an educator, an active member of my community and a queer Latina, I am appalled that Linda Chavez continues to spew hate. These statements about gender identity—that are repeated all too often in the public sphere—represent a serious misunderstanding of a community that disproportionately faces violence, discrimination and daily disrespect in our society. When we refer to gender identity as "hilarious" and say that is a "load of bull," we further trivialize our transgender community. Gender identity is not passé. Gender identity and presentation are a fundamental part of all of our lives, regardless of how we identify. Linda Chavez, I understand you have a different view of the world, but please don't add to the hatred that is already part of so many peoples' lives.
APPLAUSE FOR JESS
We were heartbroken when we opened the Reporter and read the piece by Linda Chavez speaking negatively about Jess Clark. We applaud him for his courage and work with youth in our communities through Solace. For many years, Jess has gone into the classroom, leading anti-oppression workshops and raising awareness about diversity, including LGBT people. From my experience as a Santa Fe junior high and high school teacher, I see that students truly value these learning experiences and continually ask when Jess is returning for more diversity sessions. We believe it is important for all of us to work together to support our youth. Ignorance has no place in our communities; education does. We encourage Linda Chavez to attend and participate in one of Jess' Trans 101 workshops through Solace Crisis Treatment Center in Santa Fe.
WENDY AND THEA GONDEK-LEIGHTON
As the director of a nonprofit that teaches violence prevention, I was incredibly disturbed to read another letter to the editor by Linda Chavez targeting the transgender community (others published in the New Mexican as well as sent to people's workplaces).
When we at IMPACT Personal Safety teach youth and adults who do not fit within society's rigid boundaries for gender, we hear horrible stories from students about how they are afraid to use public restrooms out of concern for their safety. Unfortunately, experience and statistics support that fear. Fifty percent of transgender people experience sexual assault alone — this is nearly double (one in three girls) or triple (one in six boys) the national reported rates of abuse.
While we work to help individuals in our community feel safer and more prepared in the face of violence they may experience, another part of IMPACT's curriculum is exploring how our culture can create a climate in which violence and perpetrators thrive.
While it is important to distinguish between gender and sexual orientation, there is much we can learn from other hate crimes. In 2005, there was a high-profile assault on James Maestas, a young gay man, in Santa Fe. Our community was appalled anyone could do such a thing here. Naturally, we are always upset and motivated to do something when we hear about the most recent assault, rape or murder. However, if we fail to look beyond the moment of assault to look at the circumstances that perpetuate it, we are not truly working to stop violence in our community. We are simply reacting to the inevitable result of a set of circumstances.
We must address not just the tip of the iceberg, but also the mass underneath.
The fact is that transgender people pose little risk to the community — a misperception oftentimes hauled out at times to create a culture of fear and hatred ("Men dressing as women! In our women's bathrooms!"). Transgender women do not commit crimes at a higher rate than other women. They are at much higher risk to become victims themselves.
Views like those recently published are dangerous to our community.It has been shown time and time again that domestic violence, sexual assault, bullying and hate crimes can be attributed to rigid gender roles and “enforcement” of those roles. While prevention of crime against our LGBTQ community is reason enough to change these norms, it is also imperative we change them if we want to protect women and children in our community.
NEWS, FEB. 19: “CAREER TRACK TWIST”
Hear, hear! Sad to hear the "home building trades" classes are turning into a "bunch of aging white guys." Oh, how I wish I had taken "shop" (as we called it then) instead of "band" (also as we called it). Ever so much more useful. I had to self-teach some very important skills. I hope these sustainability courses get far more focus.
We need more folks with these skills right away.
COVER STORY, FEB. 19: “ICON, HERO, HOMEBOY”
Older patrons of Evangelo's can recall Papa's kindness, his good humor and broad tolerance. This article is a most welcome addition to local history as well as insight into a beloved figure of Santa Fe. It is also a tribute to the deep filial respect shown by his son Nick.
I personally want to thank the Santa Fe Reporter for the nice article they wrote regarding my father.
I also want to thank the following individuals for helping me research my father's life and the background of the famous photographs: retired Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Margaret M Gonzales (Marsha), who took time off of work to accompany me on a trip to St. Petersburg, Fla., to interview the widow of Mr. Underwood; personal family friend Jere Corlett, for helping my family conduct research on my father's life and coordinating with various professionals in their respective fields; Mary Virginia Swanson; Dirck Halstead; James L Enyeart; Zig Jackson; Peter Howe; Marica Tiede; Mr. Aldridge, a photographer for LIFE magazine; Kirk Bergner, of 10th Group, Special Forces, Fort Carson.
There are numerous others who have helped me on the long road to discovering the truth about my father. I want to thank them all, and I look forward to working with them in the future to help complete our research with the hopes that we will discover more about my father's wartime exploits and the men who fought alongside him. Sincerely yours,
(Note: Apologies to Marsha Gonzales for mixing up her last name in an earlier version of this letter.)