An open letter to Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans.
Dear Mr. McNair:
You mean so much to our city. I have been a fan of your team for as long as I can remember, and now that I am old enough to understand the sports history of Houston, I realize how important you are to our city. I also realized that you have donated $10,000 to organizations that oppose Proposition 1 and the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. You have made a mistake by doing that.
For those of you who don't know what Proposition 1 is, it's a bill dubbed "The Bathroom Bill" from the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, because one provision would allow transgender people to use the restroom of their choice. Because Houston is split down the middle when it comes to liberals and conservatives, it has drawn controversy in our city prior to the Nov. 3 election.
As a gay male teenager, Proposition 1 won't affect me personally because I will always choose to use the men's bathroom. The law is designed to protect LGBT people from various forms of discrimination. However, the part of the proposition most in dispute is about allowing everyone to feel comfortable about which bathroom they use. As a cisgender male, I will never fully understand the tribulations that come with being transgender, but being gay, I do understand what it is like to not have full rights. You have made a name for yourself and you are one of Houston's largest and most important philanthropists. There are so many other charities you could have donated that $10,000 to. You could have donated it to your own charity, the Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation, or the J.J. Watt Foundation, or even the Texas Children's Hospital, where J.J. dressed up as Batman last week.
Transgender rights have taken a major step forward in the last year. Now that marriage equality is legal nationwide, transgender rights have taken a larger presence in the LGBT rights movement. The easiest way I can explain being transgender, or any sexual minority for that matter, is feeling one way on the inside that doesn't match what you feel on the outside or what society says you should feel on the outside.
When I was coming to terms with being gay, that was my biggest struggle. I thought there was something wrong with me because guys are "supposed to" like girls, and I was a guy who liked guys. It was very confusing for me, but when I finally realized what I was feeling, I realized that I had these feelings forever. Transgender people are the same way. When people say that being LGBT is a choice, I tell them that I did not choose to be gay. Transgender people are the same way. If we could choose to be LGBT, why would we choose to be a part of a group that does not have equal rights as everyone else? Why would we choose to be discriminated against? Why would some of us attempt to take our lives?
We can't force ourselves to like the opposite sex, or to be the opposite gender. It's physically impossible. Transgender people can't change their feelings. They feel like they were born in the wrong body from a very early age. Therefore, because it is something they cannot change, transgender people should be able to use their bathroom of their choice. Simple things like having the right body parts and being able to use the correct bathroom are things that you and I take for granted. However, for the transgender community, it is something they must fight for. If this law is passed, it could change lives and save people from a lot of pain. More than 50% of the transgender community has attempted suicide, and when people publicly announce their opposition to this bill, it hurts.
Even though you did something I wasn't a big fan of, it doesn't take away the fact that I admire and respect you. I hope that if you do read this, that you will have a better understanding of the LGBT community and why this bill needs to be passed. This bill will not lead to men using the women's restroom. There are already laws that criminalize people who abuse people in restrooms. The transgender community is not a group of people who wish to do that. You mean so much to the city of Houston, and just because someone does something you don't agree with does not erase the respect I have built for you.
I hope people opposed to your donation inspire you to realize that this proposition will help the city of Houston grow. We all make mistakes and I would hope that if I were to make one mistake that people would still stand by me. I respect your right to make decisions, but I also disagree with your donation and your stance on Proposition 1. I still stand by you, Mr. McNair, and I hope you learn from this mistake and grow from it.
Texans Fan Jeremy Brener
Jeremy Brener, 17, lives in Houston. He can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@BrenerJeremy). As part of a class project, high school student Jeremy Brener will chronicle his life as a gay teen sports fan during the school year and touch on issues that affect marginalized communities for Outsports.