Editor, Daily Press:

A column written by Justin Kennedy, titled "Equality act creates dangers for women, girls, others," was published May 22, 2019, in the Daily Press. I was disappointed to see such ignorant, endangering hate in the paper of the town I call home.

Mr. Kennedy calls for outrage surrounding the Equality Act, stating the original intention of the Civil Rights act would be "carved up" to include LGBTQ people as protected citizens. As a transgender person and gay man, I fail to understand how my existence and protection from people with beliefs similar to Mr. Kennedy's is a violation of his or anyone else's rights.

For simply existing, I have been assaulted, threatened, and had my loved ones threatened. Even so, I am not the target of much of the "religious freedom" legislation and rhetoric being pushed by individuals such as Mr. Kennedy. That honor is reserved for transgender women. Not only does Mr. Kennedy say transgender people "decide" to be transgender (we absolutely do not), he also refers to transgender women as "men" in several instances. He claims the Equality Act denies scientific truth, when it reinforces the many studies in which gender and sex have been defined as separate from one another. The assertion that transgender people are ignoring scientific fact is simply wrong.

The right wing claims to defend freedom until that freedom is protected for people they view as second-class citizens. Freedom of religion is already protected under the Constitution. The argument that Christians will have their freedom stolen by evil homosexuals has been at the forefront of the religious right's rhetoric since the beginning of the gay rights movement in the late 1960s. This opposition of the Equality Act is rooted in the religious right's desire to prevent LGBTQ people from existing in public spaces. It was never about water fountains and it is not about bathrooms. Allowing people to be denied care, housing, and employment is an effort to eradicate those people from public spaces and communities.

Mr. Kennedy attacks the use of puberty blockers and social transition for transgender children. I fail to understand why. Both are entirely reversible, unlike the high suicide rate in transgender people who are not accepted or allowed to transition. He also attacks the medical transition of consenting adults over age 18, which is antithetical to the freedom-loving rhetoric of his political movement. Mr. Kennedy states medical personnel would be "viciously impacted" by the Equality Act. LGBTQ people will continue to die because their medical care was refused by religious extremists ignoring the oath they took as medical professionals until legislation is passed to prevent it.

There is a distinct lack of unbiased sources, actual incidents, or scientific proof that LGBTQ people pose a threat to the public if their rights were to be protected. Mr. Kennedy's disregard for the domestic violence and molestation acts of many religious leaders and politicians, in favor of attacking LGBTQ people's rights, disgusts me. Mr. Kennedy's and his contemporaries' choice to ignore this and focus on preventing the protection of LGBTQ people from individuals like him is emblematic of the blind eye turning of the right wing religious movement.

This kind of hate has no place in this town or anywhere else. I hope he never has a loved one who is LGBTQ. I hope he never experiences the fear, pain, and uncertainty that comes with someone you love being treated terribly, fired, denied medical care, or killed because protections were not in place.

Maddox Cott

Tahlequah