HRC transgender letter

To the editor:

On 1/26 The Journal published a letter objecting to certain views on transgender youth. The letter provided no details as to what the objectionable opinions were. If it was the intention of the signers to educate the public regarding what they consider to be correct views on that subject, that objective was not met.

The letter was signed “New Ulm Human Rights Commission,” which was followed by a colon and eight names. This was done, no doubt, to give the public the impression that the names listed are all of the members of the HRC, and that the HRC was unanimous in its judgment on this matter.

Apparently this was not the case. Significantly missing from the list of signers was the chairman of the HRC.

This raises two questions: First, why did the chairman not sign the letter? The letter was discussed at the HRC meeting on 1/24. The chairman was aware that the letter was being considered, and he had opportunity to sign it, but chose not to do so. This clearly indicates that he did not want to be personally associated with the sentiments expressed there.

Secondly, if the chairman was not willing to sign the letter, why did the other members of the HRC construct their letter in such a way as to lead the public to believe that this was the opinion of all members of the HRC? They could have indicated that this was the opinion of the majority of the commission members. Why did they not do so? Could it be because they realized that doing so would weaken the impact of the statement that they “fully support transgendered individuals”?

The law requires that the public not discriminate against transgendered people when it comes to housing, employment, education, etc. The law does not require that the public or the HRC “fully support transgendered individuals” in other aspects of their lives. When the HRC makes such overly-broad statements as this, they leave the legitimate sphere that is assigned to them as a commission – the sphere of law — and cross into the sphere of moral values.

Hopefully, the HRC will recognize that their statement contains distinct moral implications. Hopefully, in the future their public statements will avoid sweeping generalizations with moral overtones, and will be addressed to specific applications of nondiscrimination law.

Michael Thom

New Ulm


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