Archived Opinion

Community makes things less scary

Community makes things less scary

To the Editor:

After attending the meeting on Tuesday evening at the Waynesville Town Hall, one of the speeches that stuck with me the most wasn’t one I would have expected — it was the dad who said he was afraid for his daughters, and that while he felt for people who believed they were stuck in the wrong bodies, he shouldn’t have to worry every time they went into a bathroom.


Maybe it stuck with me because he didn’t yell or call names (or incorrectly invoke Leviticus). Maybe it was because he clearly hadn’t absorbed a single word spoken by the many people who took the podium earlier. Maybe it was just because I saw a dad who loves his kids in a world he doesn’t always understand. 

I went to sleep thinking about him and woke the next morning thinking about him. I posted the following letter to him on my Facebook page and am sending it to you in the hope that it may actually reach him, or someone else like him.

To the dad with daughters,

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I’m glad you’re afraid for them. Not because I think they’re in any imminent danger, but because every child — every person — should have someone in their corner, keeping an eye on them, having their best interests in mind, ready to show the world that this person is loved.

You said that night that you cannot look into the heart of every person and know their intent. That is a truth that many of us must consciously live with daily. But if you truly feared for your children’s safety in public, you would simply never allow them to go anywhere without you, including into a bathroom.

A person who enters a bathroom or locker room with the intent of looking at, being looked at, or touching someone inappropriately does not do that because they are transgender or queer. They do it because they are a predator.

Those are not the same thing.

You want your children to feel safe when they go out into the world. You want them to be safe. To step out without fear, to know that they will be at best loved, at the least left in peace. I understand you’re afraid — it’s a terrifying world sometimes. Just like you, we only want to feel safe in this place we call home.

Jane Doe, at the rec center, is someone’s child. Someone prays for her those same things that you pray for your children, and if that person isn’t her biological family, then it’s me. It’s the people who showed out last night at the town hall meeting. We will be each other’s protectors just as you are for your children. We will be the person in each other’s corner, keeping an eye on them, having their best interests in mind, ready to show the world that they are loved. And we won’t do it by threatening to shoot anyone who looks at us sideways.

Lots of queer folks are willing to answer questions asked with the intent of learning and growing. Not all, but many. I can connect you with trans and queer people, starting with myself, who are willing to have those conversations if you’re willing to ask sincere questions and listen to the answers. Because community makes the world a lot less scary.

Frances Oka


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