I don't often (ever?) tangent in this space off talking about the Jays to other baseball matters, and only on one rather important (to me) occasion in my memory have I drifted off the sport altogether to the world beyond. Humor me then, as I make a second exception to that policy for a subject which is important, and personal, to me.
Word comes to my attention today that the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs have joined the San Francisco Giants in making a PSA video for the It Get's Better Project. Allow me to set aside on field rivalry and tip my metaphorical hat in the direction of the Beantown Nine (and the other teams as well).
When the first announcement came that the Giants had participated, I highlighted the announcement via Twitter to the Blue Jays players who are on that site, with an appeal that the Jays follow that worthwhile lead and participate as well. I'm not naive as to the idea that professional athletes get more tweets than they can possibly take note of, so with the announcement that other teams are participating I'm going to take my rabble rousing to the next level - I'm determined to get their attention and confident that if - when - I do, they will respond positively.
In fact, I would not be surprised to know they already were working on it. But I also want to raise a point in which I have a vested self interest. If you are not familiar with the It Gets Better Project, it's a campaign designed to raise awareness of bullying targeting LGBT youth and to say to these young people, who are at dramatically higher risk of self harm, than the average teen, that no matter how dark their current situation seems, life does get better. It is a wonderful project which anyone should be proud to support. I, however, have this one quibble: in the announcements I've seen there's been a great deal of attention to the "L" and the "G" but not so much to the "T" - I'd like to appeal for that to change along with my broader appeal to the Blue Jays.
When I was a teen, I made a huge effort (given the prevailing attitudes in the Southern U.S. in the 1970's) to be very sure no one knew about my condition, so I cannot say that I speak from direct experience with bullying. But I DO know what it is to live in a culture that considers people like you "freaks" and "pervs" and have no frame of reference to know better. I know full well what it is to look in the mirror and loath yourself, both for the wrongness of your physical gender, and for the "deviancy" of your gender identity condition. When the entire culture is one giant message screaming "you are not normal!!!" you don't really need a personified bully in your face to consider taking your own life. I do know what it is to spend what is supposed to be the best part of your life wondering if it's worth it to remain alive at all.
In today's culture, we have come a long long way from 1970's Mississippi (even in Mississippi!) but still, FAR too often, immature people (teens or no) perceive an easy target in the gay, lesbian, or transsexual youth. I think it's fair to say, also, that in some places being gay is more acceptable than being trans which, sadly, can even be a cause for derision from homosexual youth and adults themselves. But in all cases, so much progress has been made that a fair assessment of the future has to be optimistic. It is a mark of how far we have grown as a culture that more and more of those in the public eye take the opportunity to use their platform to say to those who still have to deal with those who have not joined in that progress "Hold on, it DOES get better" and by implication to those who still mistreat their fellow human being "these things ought not be."
I would be assumin too much, I expect, to assume that an at-risk LGBT teen might be reading my obscure little blog but the message cannot be repeated enough, even in the lightly traveled corners of the internet - you have a FAR more promising future ahead of you than those who came before you, and you should believe it when we say "it get's better." The world is changing and you stand to be the first generation that society might look on and call "normal" - stick around for that. Live that change, heck help make it happen.
Normally, it would be just as big an assumption to think for a moment that the Likes of Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, JP Arencibia, Jesse Listch, and Jose Baustista would ever take time out of there day to read this blog - but I'm going to be a considerable pest until someone calls their attention to my plea, which is this:
Guys, no one needs to tell you the influence you have on the young fans who look up to you, and no one needs to tell you what a progressive city you play in, so I will not waste time explaining the obvious. But each of you also know where you come from, you know those who follow you because you went to the same high school, the same college, maybe the same church - because you are, while still being a professional athlete "one of them." and credibility comes with that. I'm asking you, both as a Blue Jay fan and as a transsexual woman, if you have not already, step up to the plate and join your fellow major-leaguers who have done the right thing and added their voices to this call. And if it's not too much trouble, be sure someone mentions us trans folks somewhere along the way - we need it too.
If, for whatever reason, you are reading this blog and you have ANY reasonable means of contact with the Blue Jays players, staff, or management and you can call their attention to this appeal, or at the least to the IGB project, please do so. I really don't care, in the end, if any of those prominent people ever know who I am - I do care that they speak up for an important message.