An Open Letter To Wayne Stenehjem

Published on May 31, 2016 by   ·   1 Comment

Editor’s note: this is an email that I sent to Wayne Stenehjem when I saw an article that North Dakota was going to sign on to a lawsuit against the Federal government over the issue of bathroom access for trans people and other non-gender-conforming folks.  I don’t imagine I will get more than a form letter response, but when I posted it to my personal Facebook page, I got a lot of positive comments and decided to post it here.  I normally stay out of North Dakota politics (one can only shout into the wind for so long!) but when I saw these latest shenanigans I just couldn’t stay silent.  Republicans claim they want to be “the party of fiscal responsibility” – then they need to grow up and act like it.  Feel free to share this if you wish. – Miss Jaye

My name is Chris Stoner and while I don’t generally get involved in North Dakota politics (usually an exercise in futility for anyone with a more progressive perspective) I just could not stay silent on this issue.

We’ve all heard about the budget shortfalls in North Dakota; as a UND alum and someone who has had ties to that university in many different capacities (including undergrad and grad student, employee, and volunteer) for the last 20 years, I am well aware of how poor money management has impacted my alma mater, most recently in the suspension of the popular (and financially solvent!) Music Therapy program. It’s an ugly time in North Dakota since we didn’t manage our money as well as we should have when there was a lot of it, and now there’s less of it.

What absolutely enrages me is when I see a headline informing me that you are planning to join a lawsuit against the government to fight so that trans people can’t use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. Seriously?! That’s the sort of judgment you are asking voters to elect into the governor’s office? This sort of idiotic thinking and lack of decision making is exactly what got us into this budget problem in the first place, and that’s not even considering how discriminatory and offensive the whole issue is, in and of itself.

Flag 01This whole trans bathroom issue is a smokescreen for rich Republicans who want to keep “Joe Main Street” all riled up about something so that they can get his votes and hope he won’t notice that the Republican party is the one making it easier for employers to ship jobs overseas, cut assistance/welfare programs that help families in need (INCLUDING farm programs – anyone who doesn’t understand that farm programs ARE welfare programs is seriously disconnected from reality), and generally make his life harder. The fact that you would join this effort (and commit funds to it) when North Dakota is facing serious budget problems shows that you do not have the common sense or common decency required to hold the position of governor.

In fact, if your issue really is about “protecting our wives and daughters,” perhaps you should consider laws that protect women from sexual assault on campus, provide necessary services to low income women and children, ensure that pregnant women have access to quality healthcare…I could list a thousand different things that you COULD be doing, and none of them involve which bathrooms trans people are using. If you are that concerned about public bathrooms, perhaps you should consider trying to restrict heterosexual white men from using them, since statistically speaking this is the population that commits the most sexual assault against women and children. But then that wouldn’t serve your personal interests nearly as much as jumping on the wedge issue du jour in an election year. Trans people have been around for a long time, and this may shock you, but they’ve been using public bathrooms for a long time. This has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with you trying to further your political ambitions and not giving one damn about who might get hurt in the process.

flag 02You should think about your life and think about your choices. I know I’m thinking about them, and I know that they don’t represent what I love about my home state, as backwards and frustrating as it can be politically. You should really try to focus on issues that really matter and that have real impacts to the citizens of North Dakota.

As the kids today would say, you need to learn to adult better.

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Readers Comments (1)
  1. Ricky says:

    Ah, i see. Well tha’ts not too tricky at all!”

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