Election Connection – Book Banning/Challenge Update

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This is specific to a Texas school district, but challenges are happening across the country.

A federal judge has ruled that the books in question be returned to the library within twenty-four hours and left accessible while the case is ongoing. They are prohibited from removing any books while the case is in litigation.

According to this CNN article, while the Texas school said the books were removed as part of their normal weeding procedures it is clear that there were outside influences at play based on the subjects removed, including topics of race and LGBT+.

Disagreeing with the subject matter is not a reason to remove the books from the library. I also disagree with the comment in the article that pastors should be involved. Absolutely not. The separation of church and state is critically important both to the founding of this country and its ongoing evolution of welcoming all, despite the recent contradictions to that.

Part of the problem is the ignorance of those complaining about the books. They call many LGBT+ books pornographic when they are not sexual in nature and simply talk about feelings and gender as any adolescent character in a book would do. They are also trying to restrict CRT (critical race theory) which none of these books teach despite perhaps being written by a person of color or are about a person of color. As has been explained over and over again, CRT is not something that is taught in the schools, not even at a high school level. It is typically a subject in post-graduate and law schools.

As a writer, I understand that not all books are for everyone, and I agree that parents can determine the appropriateness of books for their children within reason (as I have done for my children without banning books for everyone), but I expect that we should trust in the schooling and expertise of librarians and teachers who have studied this field for a number of years.

I am also concerned about a random group of uneducated people coming in and removing books rather than letting individual parents and children make the determinations for their families on what is age-appropriate.

I hope the country steps back from the abyss; we are well beyond the slippery slope, and we need to offer modern books with timely subject matter while also encouraging the reading of classics while explaining the reasons that some of the material isn’t appropriate, and maybe never was.

Times change. We should change with them.

Election Connection – Abortion Access

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It’s important to remember that one of the things left out of the abortion access discussion is that it is a freedom of religion issue. Banning abortion violates the tenets of some religions. It is also important to remind people that despite declarations of the opposite, this is not a Christian nation. It is not founded as a Christian nation, and many of us need to be reminded of that. More often it seems.

In fact, in the Treaty of Tripoli, signed in 1796 and ratified by the United States Senate in 1797, UNANIMOUSLY and without debate under the Presidency of John Adams stated that explicitly:

“…the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

Article 11, Treaty of Tripoli, rat. 1797

The below article was posted in USA Today on February 13, 2023. It is written by Christine Fernando and can be read here:

‘It’s time for us to be Bold’: Why Six Religious Leaders are Fighting to Expand Abortion Access

The six leaders highlighted in the article are:

  • Rev. Cindy Bumb of United Church of Christ
  • Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation
  • Jamie L. Manson, president of Catholics for Choice
  • Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women
  • Aliza Kazmi, co-executive director at HEART
  • Katey Zeh, Baptist minister and CEO of Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Election Connection – Just Say NO to a 30% Sales Tax

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I’ve been seeing and hearing quite a bit about a new proposal from House GOP members about abolishing the IRS and implementing a 30% sales tax*. On its face it is an absurd prospect filled with scare tactics talking points and falsehoods, or as we like to call them: LIES.

I’m including three links as well as a great video that explains exactly what’s in the bill at the end. First, I’m glad to give you my opinion on this as someone who pays the bills for my household and is soon-to-be preparing our taxes and who spent the weekend shopping with my family for our household needs.

A 30% tax increase is CRAZY. It’s as simple as that. We’re an average family of five, one of whom lives on his own (but who often comes to dinner). We are still materially supporting two other children (regardless of their ages), feeding, clothing, entertaining. We live paycheck to paycheck, and some months we don’t have anything at all until the next paycheck. It varies.

This weekend we went to several places and took our daughter to breakfast on Sunday. I’m going to round up what we spent:

Breakfast out: $63

Department Store: $68 (this included groceries, medicine, and clothing)

Walmart: $6 (groceries)

McDonald’s: $3 ($1 drinks)

Sally’s Beauty Supply: $24 (school supplies)

Target: $164 (personal care/hygiene, toilet paper, school supplies, groceries, toy on clearance)

All of these purchases include state and county sales tax, which in (our part of) New York is 8%.

New totals based on an additional 30% federal sales tax (on goods and services):

  • Breakfast: $81.90
  • Dept. Store: $88.40
  • Walmart: $7.80
  • McDonald’s: $3.90
  • Sally’s: $31.20
  • Target: $213.20

For a grand total increase of: $98.40 for one day’s shopping. ONE DAY.

Republican House Members claim that this will abolish the IRS and eliminate 87,000 “weaponized” IRS agents who were increased in a recent bill that President Biden signed last year. This is a falsity that they’ve continued to lie about. Those 87,000 IRS agents will not be armed (as they’ve claimed) and they will not be coming to your house, but increasing the assistance the IRS gives to its clients every day. I’ve been on the phone with them previously and have always felt helped. They’re also supposed to help reduce the backlog to avoid situations like we experienced in 2021 when we filed in May and didn’t receive our refund until the end of December.

This National sales tax will be on goods AND services, where the current state formula is on primarily good with only a few services paying sales tax. This tax on services would include babysitters, which is explained in the video. This will also be on top of the state and local taxes paid on goods currently.

One of the things they claim is that 40% of households pay no form of income tax, and for those family’s eligible, there will be a monthly rebate based on a formula in relation to the poverty line and family size, but you would still have to pay it upfront at the time of purchase. If you’re eligible for the rebate, that is.

This creates an enormous burden on the poor and middle-class working families. The rich will always find ways to get around this tax, simply by leaving the country to do their shopping. Plus the fact that they can afford the increased pay out.

If it wasn’t obvious yet, I am definitely against this bill, and will be contacting my Congressman’s office to let him know he has my support to vote NO when this comes to the floor.

*Republicans claim that it isn’t a 30% increase, that it’s a 23% increase. That is because of how they are doing the math: $30 out of $100 is 23%. The video does an excellent job of explaining this.


Don’t Buy the Sales Tax (from the Brookings Institute)

TaxVox: Federal Budget and Economy

SNOPES: Is GOP Freedom Caucus Pushing for a 30% Sales Tax in US? [SPOILER ALERT: YES]

Video from Brian Kim of Clear Value Tax:

Adding Politics Girl’s Take here:

Election Connection – Speaker’s Edition

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House Clerk, Cheryl Johnson and CSPAN earned their accolades this week. They are both in thankless jobs until something like this happens and they become household names.

Finally, on the fifteenth round of voting, six thousand, five hundred ten names called over three days, Rep. Kevin McCarthy was elected Speaker of the House by Republicans. All Democrats (212), in every round, voted for NY’s Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. In my opinion, he would have made an excellent Speaker, and one day, he will.

I’d like you to watch a portion of his first speech as Minority Leader. He thanked Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi for her service and her job as the first woman Speaker of the House. She really is remarkable. She has stepped down from leadership for the next generation, but she remains in the House of Representatives as the Congresswoman from her California district.

This video of Rep. Jeffries is just superb, and I look forward to hearing from him more and more. This is only a small part (A-Z), but it’s also worth finding the full 15 minutes of his speech.

Election Connection – Year End Wrap

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What a Year from Vote Save America

Let’s look at the list of the races we were following here for the 2022 Election, and see how we fared:

  • Senate Races
  • AZ – Mark Kelly
  • CO – Michael Bennet
  • CT – Richard Blumenthal
  • FL – Val Demmings
  • GA – Rev. Raphael Warnock
  • HI – Brian Schatz
  • NH – Maggie Hassan
  • NV – Catherine Cortez-Masto
  • NY – Chuck Schumer
  • OH – Tim Ryan
  • PA – John Fetterman
  • WA – Patty Murray
  • WI – Mandela Barnes
  • Also, keep an eye on Iowa and Kentucky
  • House of Representatives
  • AK – Mary Peltola
  • MI – Elissa Slotkin
  • NY – Matt Castelli
  • NY – Sean Maloney
  • VA – Abigail Spanberger
  • Governors
  • CA – Gavin Newsom
  • CO – Jared Polis
  • FL – Charlie Crist
  • GA – Stacey Abrams
  • MI – Gretchen Whitmer
  • NY – Kathy Hochul
  • PA – Josh Shapiro
  • TX – Beto O’Rourke
  • Mayor
  • Los Angeles – Karen Bass

Looks like the majority of them won their races. Beto and Tim Ryan were close. We need to keep pushing in Ohio and Texas. In that endeavor, follow Olivia Julianna on Twitter (while there’s still a twitter). She is a Gen Z political activist, doesn’t back down, and speaks her mind.

Have we learned anything from the last several years?

Continue reading

Election Connection – VOTE!

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Today is Election Day. Get out the vote, get out your vote, do your civic duty, and take the responsibility for what direction you want this country to go in. Please remember January 6th, and the heroes of that day who are still traumatized – that kind of thing doesn’t go away overnight and it certainly doesn’t go away when the circumstances that led to it in the first place are still prevalent. We need to stop the impending fascism and save our democracy. It’s not perfect. Of course, it’s not perfect, but one party wants to help you, and one wants to destroy our American experiment. Vote blue for Democracy.

These are some of the important races around the country that I am keeping my eye on and praying for. I’ve already voted today. We got up extra early to get my middle son to the polls. He’s a first time voter. In the car on the way home, my husband asked him if he voted on the bond issue, he wouldn’t tell him. I think that was just to be an amused teenager, but it drives home the point that your vote is YOUR VOTE. Use it wisely.

These are in no special order. You can look them up with Google, and to watch the returns, I’d recommend MSNBC who will have Rachel Maddow leading the coverage beginning at 6pm EST, although starting at 4pm is Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace. She’s great to watch – good insights, good guests.

  • Senate Races
  • AZ – Mark Kelly
  • CO – Michael Bennet
  • CT – Richard Blumenthal
  • FL – Val Demmings
  • GA – Rev. Raphael Warnock
  • HI – Brian Schatz
  • NH – Maggie Hassan
  • NV – Catherine Cortez-Masto
  • NY – Chuck Schumer
  • OH – Tim Ryan
  • PA – John Fetterman
  • WA – Patty Murray
  • WI – Mandela Barnes
  • Also, keep an eye on Iowa and Kentucky
  • House of Representatives
  • AK – Mary Peltola
  • MI – Elissa Slotkin
  • NY – Matt Castelli
  • NY – Sean Maloney
  • VA – Abigail Spanberger
  • Governors
  • CA – Gavin Newsom
  • CO – Jared Polis
  • FL – Charlie Crist
  • GA – Stacey Abrams
  • MI – Gretchen Whitmer
  • NY – Kathy Hochul
  • PA – Josh Shapiro
  • TX – Beto O’Rourke
  • Mayor
  • Los Angeles – Karen Bass

Election Connection

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Why This Election is Like No Other

If you’ve watched this space for any length of time, you have seen the call to vote in this once in a lifetime, critical election several times since 2016. It is hard to believe that all of these elections are the most important one in your life. I am sad to say that they are.

For many people, more than you may realize, the outcome of this election is important not only to their well-being, but to their very lives.

Dramatic, I know.

  • But tell that to kids who are being taught BOTH SIDES of the Holocaust.
  • Tell that to kids trying to read The Diary of Anne Frank in Oklahoma, but being told it’s banned due to its being a “graphic” novel. The folks doing the banning think it’s graphic, as in adult when it’s actually really a bound comic book.
  • Tell that to transgender youth who see no way apart from suicide.
  • Tell that to women who have and will die IN HOSPITALS (with doctors beside them) from treatable emergencies because of new anti-abortion/anti-women laws.
  • Tell that to kids and adults with rheumatoid arthritis who can’t get their medication because regardless of their future plans, they are of child-bearing age and can’t get their regular medicine because it MIGHT cause a miscarriage.
  • Tell that to married couples who can’t get birth control because a pharmacist doesn’t agree with contraception. This has already happened recently.
  • And all of this is in addition to the Insurrection on January 6th that this country as yet to come to grips with. Many of the insurrectionists are still SERVING in Congress.

Video was released just last week of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi on the phone with then-Vice President Pence discussing what was going on in the Capitol. She was telling him to be safe while the President of the United States was encouraging a mob to “find” him. In the room witnessing this were GOP (Republican) leadership who subsequently went out and denounced her for not doing enough. I’m speaking specifically of Rep. Steve Scalise of LA and others. He knew she was taking care of business and lied, trying to blame her for not calling the National Guard, which she is legally not authorized to do.

That is the real problem with today’s elected Republicans. They lie. They’ve lied about things they’ve witnessed, things we’ve seen on video, things we know to be true. If this is their demeanor when we see the lies, what are they saying about things we don’t know first hand?

Have you watched the debate between Georgia Senator, Rev. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker? It is no exaggeration to say that Walker is barely intelligible. His past and his lies about his past are disqualifying. And in polls, they’re tied.

The hit-job they’re doing on John Fetterman against carpetbagger, Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania is reprehensible. Yes, Fetterman had a stroke and is in recovery, but anyone can see that his cognitive function (and physical for that matter) is equal to what it was before. They refer to his accommodation of using closed captions during interviews as if they don’t use teleprompters or that perhaps they feel the deaf and hard of hearing should be excluded from running from office.

The Supreme Court is outdated, and that’s the least of its problems. It would not be hyperbole to say that two of the nine justices are sitting in stolen seats. Three of those Justices were appointed by a man who tried to and fortunately failed to stage a coup and overthrow the government. This has been painfully shown over and over again through witness testimony under oath to Congress. Most of those witnesses are lifelong Republicans.

I’m begging you: Vote Democratic across the board, from dog catcher to US Senator. We need to hold the House and expand the Senate, not to mention Governors and local legislatures.

We need to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, which would protect elections from voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the continuing sabotage of insurrectionists.
The bipartisan January 6th committee showed us how things could be if honest people work together.

Visit Vote Save America and see what you can do in your region to help save America. Everything begins with voting and free and fair elections.

Other sites to visit and support include:
Fair Fight
Democracy Docket
ACLU
When We All Vote
Vote dot Org

We have 20 days to get it done. Let’s get it done!

Election Connection – 56 Days Out from the Mid-Terms

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We are 56 days out from the 2022 Mid-Term Elections.

On November 8, we are being called to save our democracy. This is not hyperbole. We saw what happened on January 6, 2021, and the insurrectionists are still fomenting dissent and looking towards autocrats to lead us. We cannot let that happen.

We need to hold the House and expand our majority in the Senate, and we cannot forget the down ballot races, especially those that guide and oversee our local elections.

In a world where a Congressman (Gohmert (R-TX)) just this week traveled to Miami to present a flag to an insurrectionist who served her time as she was released from custody, we need to ensure that the only people in government are the ones loyal to the US and the functioning of its government and not geared towards and cheering for its sabotage.

These are the races to follow in 2022 and if you live in those states, please vote for the Democratic candidate. Everyone else, if you are able please donate to their campaigns.

Senate
Arizona – Mark Kelly (re-election)
Nevada – Catherine Cortez-Masto (re-election)
Wisconsin – (ousting insurrectionist Ron Johnson)
Mandela Barnes
Florida – Val Demmings (former law enforcement, current Congressperson, so much better than Marco Rubio)
Georgia – Raphael Warnock (re-election)
New Hampshire – Maggie Hassan (re-election)
Pennsylvania – John Fetterman (Lt. Governor, former mayor of Braddock)

Governor
Florida – Charlie Crist (former Governor, already knows the job; not an autocrat)
Georgia – Stacey Abrams (she’s Stacey Abrams!)
Texas – Beto O’Rourke (for the people, gun control, 1000x better than Abbott)
Pennsylvania – Josh Shapiro (current Attorney General of PA)
New York – Kathy Hochul (re-election)

House – on a personal note, I would love to see Elise Stefanik unseated. She’s an inciter to riot and an insurrectionist. Vote for the Democrat, save Democracy. Vote Matt Castelli (former CIA Officer, served as Director for Counterterrorism at Pres. Obama’s National Security Council.)

Visit Vote Save America to learn how you can help in your region and across the country.

Election Connection – 85 Days and Counting

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Wednesday marks eight-five days until Election Day – the all important mid-term elections.

A few things happened today that I want you to be aware of as we head into these mid-term elections. (Unfortunately, I do not have links, but this are easy to google.)

First, thanks to a commited Democratic party, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which goes a long way to meet our climate goals as well as reducing the deficit whlie providing help to families.

Second, the FDA is making hearing aids available over the counter (probably by mid-October). This is crucial, and not just to people on Medicare. I have been using hearing aids since I was 52. It should have been longer than that but we weren’t able to afford it. To get them, I had to see my primary doctor, an ENT specialist, have an MRI, get signed off by the ENT, then go to a hearing aid place to be fitted with hearing aids. The aids themselves were over $5000 without the doctor’s visits and the MRI. We were “lucky” because that year my son was in the hospital and so we reached our deductible in March rather than at the end of December (like usual) and a close relative died.

Third, a 16 year old in Florida has been told in a ruling by a court that she cannot have an abortion. The reason? She is not mature enough to make that kind of life altering decision. But raising a baby, she’s mature enough for that? GTFOH.

Fourth, Liz Cheney lost her primary to a MAGA lunatic, and I’m being somewhat generous by using the term lunatic. Look her up. I’m not a Cheney fan, but at least she’s not part of the conspiracy theorists. She has been an admirable Vice-Chair for the Jan. 6 committee, and perhaps Chairman Benny Thompson can include her as part of the legal staff or committee spokesperson after she can no longer serve in January.

These four examples are only four of the very many reasons that everyone needs to vote in the Election on November 8th. Vote all the traitors, Q-anons, and corrupt Republicans out of office. Vote Blue.

We have the opportunity to turn things around. It will take time, more time than we’d like, but it will happen if everyone buckles up and does their part. Democracy is at stake. Our futures and the futures of our children are at stake.

Visit Vote Save America for ways to help your candidate and Democracy Docket.

Election Connection – Supreme Court Edition

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I have been struggling as I know many people around the country are struggling, especially women, girls, and trans and non-binary people with uteruses. I can’t promise that my language will be consistently inclusive in this writing. I can promise to try. Not mentioning trans/NB people doesn’t mean that they are not part of the discussion or part of my thoughts and fears, but right now, I have two strong emotions at play: first, my daughter and millions like her and second, the Constitution.

For those of us who grew up with constitutional norms and the sentimentality as well as the reality of the rule of law, who grew up with William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and for the people following now in the turmoil and unease of an activist court and are looking towards Ketanji Brown Jackson for similar inspiration, the death knell of the Constitution is heart-wrenching. Not as heart-wrenching as the forced birth of pubescent children or the forced trauma of losing a wanted pregnancy as well as the derailment of dreams, but it is still something to be mourned. I’m not sure we can come back. My eternal USA-USA optimism has been shaken to its core these last several years and this term of the Supreme Court has been the nail in the ever lowering coffin.

I studied law for half my college career and that came after a hobby of reading everything law related available, studying in my own way the law, knowing legal precedents and bathing in the light of the dreams of freedom. Re-reading that sentence now, it is so clear that I am speaking from a place of extreme privilege, my whiteness showing starker than the background of the screen I type on. Everything else, my Jewishness, my womanhood, my economic status – all of that is hidden under the whiteness that wrote that beloved Constitution. When I graduated from college, I got rid of most of my textbooks, but I kept ALL of my law books. Why? Well, they were historical. They set precedent with opinions from the greats, both before and during my lifetime. These books would continued to be studied for generations and while they would be added to, they would still be the basis for many rulings to come.

Little did I know.

The year I had jury duty was the year Justice William Brennan retired. I went to Brooklyn Federal Court, after driving over an hour and a half, parking underground, and walking across a public park to the courthouse, and I bought a Time magazine with his picture on the cover. I read it during my lunch before I was assigned to a case. I was excited. Until I listened to the case and discovered the weight of my civic duty. I was a hold-out for awhile, but we sorted it out and I was dismissed with the thanks of a grateful court. I couldn’t wait to do it again.

With one term, one swoop of Russian interference, Republican obstinance and recalcitrance, Senatorial and Presidential corruption, and let’s be honest, overt racism, and those books on my shelf have become obsolete.

Miranda – not required.

Engel v Vitale – coercive prayer

Roe v Wade – no bodily autonomy if you’re a woman, no privacy

MA v EPA – overturned – enjoy your brown air and water

Griswold, Casey, Oberfell – their futures in question

But Skokie? Skokie remains. Oh, unless you’re picketing the Supreme Court justices. In that case, no first amendment rights for you. Who cares about McCullen v Coakley?

This week in Akron, Ohio, a ten year old girl was forced to go to Indiana to obtain an abortion after her rape because a judge ruled that she was three days over the legal limit to get one in Ohio. Truly, the Lord’s work, amirite? During this same week and same town, a Black man (Jayland Walker) was shot in the back sixty times (ninety rounds fired) for running away from a traffic stop.

These two incidents, traumas on families and communities are only a microcosm of what is happening across this country.

It is only a matter of time before a rapist is granted joint custody with their victim for a forced birth baby. Who thinks that this is okay?

We (with SCOTUS leading the way) are dismantling the First Amendment. The most important amendment. So important it comes first, before anything else. I remind you that we are not a Christian nation. We are multicultural, interfaith, NO faith, multidimensional, and to stay free we must act free. All of us. Violating one person’s civil rights, their human rights is a stain for us all.

The First Amendment falls as fascism rises: little by little and then all at once. You are here in the timeline.

Yesterday morning, I attended my church online. I usually attend online. As the mass ended and the congregation was dismissed to relay the Good News, the priest and deacon processed from the altar to the music and singing of America the Beautiful. I can’t say what I would have done had I been there, but at home, online, I turned it off. I thought, and continue to think it’s inappropriate. I get that people want a patriotic song, and as far as patriotic songs go, this one isn’t bad, but as a recessional to mass?

No.

No. No. No.

The song on its own wasn’t the problem. Play it after the mass is actually over, while people are still congregating, but not as part of the closing.

I have two distinct memories of my father’s patriotism. We were at a professional baseball game (The Mets, of course), and I didn’t stand for the National Anthem. It wasn’t a protest. It was a lazy elementary school child. The look he gave me. The same for a school assembly when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I had no problem with the Pledge, but my sitting wasn’t an option. This look was accompanied by a whispered admonition. And I remember those moments with my dad. He wasn’t a nationalist; he wasn’t our country can do no wrong, but he knew the importance of that respect and I do too. I don’t think he would appreciate how I feel today and how I don’t want to celebrate Independence Day. Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States took away what little freedom my daughter and I had, and I can’t celebrate that. I hear Black and brown people asking what we’re celebrating in the first place, and I hear them.

I have four books to recommend to everyone and then one more thing:

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story created by Nikole Hannah-Jones
Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy by Adam Jentleson
Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution by Elie Mystal, which I am currently reading.

About six or seven years ago, maybe a bit longer, I was driving in the car with my daughter and she suddenly said through a tight throat and tiny tears that she didn’t want to have a baby. She hadn’t even gotten her period yet. She was under ten or was ten, I don’t remember. What I do remember was trying not to cry because she was so appalled about the idea of having a baby, not the idea of being a mom even though that was kind of foreign to her, but physically being forced to have a baby when she didn’t want one. I said to that she didn’t need to worry about that. No one was going to force her to have a baby. She wanted to know how I knew that. I told her I knew that because I would never let that happen. Never.

And I never will.

Not my daughter, and not yours, and not trans men or non-binary folks. No one.

We won’t go back.