By Darryl Ford

Today I was forced to confront hatred the like of which I have never personally experienced.

I volunteer at the Day Drop Center for the homeless in Fernandina Beach. When I arrived for my shift, a man was profanely threatening violence, literally screaming at a transgender client . . . as I learned simply for being transgender. Jackie (not her real name,) the victim of his hatred simply stood there. I brought Jackie into the office where she was very calm, dignified and assured me that nothing needed to be done and that this was part of her experience being transgender in Fernandina Beach. Several minutes later as Jackie and I started to update some information online the man burst into the office again profanely threatening first Jackie and then me when I stood between them. I convinced him to take a few steps outside where he then continued this tirade even threatening other clients who attempted to intervene and convince him to leave. The situation was resolved without violence when the police arrived and ordered the man off the property.

When I returned to finish the update task for Jackie’s benefits we began to talk about the incident and her experience. She told me about being assaulted, in bars, on the street, at fast food restaurants and so on. I asked her about the assaults, what did she mean, and she calmly explained how she has been punched so hard on multiple occasions that she has lost two teeth, been the victim of attempted rape, been cut off and financially taken advantage of by her family, been refused medical/dental treatment after arriving for appointments, and simply hated for being herself. Jackie also told me heartwarming stories of being accepted for who she is by locals, bikers, and others she runs in to around the island.

I thought of myself as aware and open minded before today. Of course, I knew that transgender people were victims of discrimination and violence. Experiencing the rage and hatred of this man, spittle flying from his mouth as he threatened first Jackie, then myself, and then others for not joining him was a visceral kick in the gut. I live a different lifestyle than Jackie, we had a rollicking entertaining debate comparing our experiences and choices in life. Jackie is a likable, very intelligent, very lonely transgender woman with much to offer to this world.

I am very saddened to see the raw face of hate that Jackie lives with on this island that I love.

Editor’s Note:  After a 35-year career in Human Resources, Darryl Ford and his wife moved to Fernandina’s Historic District in 2018.  Darryl now spends his time as a  volunteer with the Coalition for the Homeless.  We thank Darryl for his contribution to the Fernandina Observer.

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13 Comments
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robert warner
robert warner
2 months ago

This demeans us all.

kathleen ponder
kathleen ponder
2 months ago
Reply to  robert warner

This behavior needs to be confronted by the police. No one should have to tolerate this hatred here -or anywhere else.

Jackie
Jackie
2 months ago

How DARE anyone give a negative click to your comment!

You are 100% correct; NO ONE should have to tolerate this behavior – here or anywhere else.

And, FYI to everyone, the FB Police Department is amazingly kind, considerate, courteous, wonderful, supportive, and protective! Of course they can’t be everywhere (nor would we even want a “police state”), but in my opinion (as the person who is the subject of the article), Fernandina Police have made our almost-utopian island city a Mayberry USA, with a perfect balance of an available presence with a hands-off policy.

Marlene Chapman
Marlene Chapman
2 months ago

This is not what we’re about in Fernandina and has put a black mark on our city. This is beyond sad and I am so sorry this happened.

Nancy Dickson
Nancy Dickson
2 months ago

Thank you for this disturbing window on the world we live in. Very impressed with yours and Jackie’s bravery – pretty sure I would not have been able to stand my ground in the face of such an assault. Horrible that she is force to endure this daily.

Mark Tomes
Mark Tomes
2 months ago

This IS a part of who Fernandina is, but not what we want it to be. When white, straight, religious people (the ones with privilege in our society) stand up to others who exhibit hate and anger and fear, we will be able to help change the world to be more tolerant and compassionate. Silence equals complicity. Kudos to Mr. Ford for his work on our community.

Jackie
Jackie
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tomes

Just a note to say Thank You. As the person who is the subject of the opinion article, I completely support your comment.

Peggy Bulger
Peggy Bulger
2 months ago

Thank you Darryl for posting this — the fact that this type of hateful behavior is tolerated by many is disturbing at the least. Thank you for your courageous work and your compassion and love. This is the way we hope all of us will respond if we are confronted by such a situation.

Jason Collins
Jason Collins
2 months ago

White, straight religious (privileged) people Mark?? That comment was almost as disturbing as the story itself. That is a straight hateful and racist comment. Most white straight Christians (myself included) would have stood up for Jackie as we wouldn’t stand for anyone being mistreated or bullied. While I wouldn’t condone that lifestyle choice I also wont cast judgement or
Mistreat anyone for who they are. Now we also don’t know what was said or what happened prior to make that man so angry either. Anyways we all need to stop throwing around insults and stereotypes based on gender race religion or so called privilege.

Robert S. Warner, Jr.
Robert S. Warner, Jr.
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason Collins

Who just insulted whom?

Richard Norman Kurpiers
Richard Norman Kurpiers
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason Collins

The word “condone” is defined thusly in the Oxford Dictionary:
“accept and allow (behavior that is considered morally wrong or offensive) to continue”

Seems to me that not allowing Jackie to live life as a transgender or accepting her choice to do so is not only mistreating her but can hardly be called standing up for her.

Last edited 2 months ago by Richard Norman Kurpiers
Jackie
Jackie
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason Collins

Sir; sorry, but the comment was in fact accurate. Being accurate, it was neither hateful nor racist. The raw truth is that most Christians… do little more than “pray for you” during difficult times. They don’t personally offer help, they don’t stand up nor speak out; they watch while things happen… and “pray for you”. That’s it.

The raw, unadulterated facts are that other than Mr. Ford, not one person who witnessed any of these referenced incidences… stood up nor spoke up or out. Not… One. Perhaps you would have, but presumably you were not there for any of those incidences, so we may never know how you might have reacted “in the line of fire”. FYI, the person who went ballistic on me was a few french fries and a toy short of a Happy Meal; with him being a white male and self-determined to presumably be higher on the social totem pole than I, a transgender woman… he felt privileged and protected to go ballistic on me. I don’t know the individual; have never had any social interaction of any nature with him.

That’s not reserved to Whites, of course: On the day of the Concours d’Elegance, I was in a McDonalds packed with persons getting breakfast before the car show and some fellow couldn’t figure out the Kiosk. I offered to help him, both as a civil thing to do as well as so I could use it; He looked at me: “What is THIS? IT talks like a Man and IT looks like a Woman (which I took to be a compliment; I am actually pretty, but at my age, my voice isn’t going to change); I can’t even tell what IT is!” I simply turned to him in front of everyone and said, “I’m sorry, we can’t all be intelligent; you can’t cure stupid” and walked out, leaving him to explain himself to a packed room full of persons who witnessed that.

I have been asked, firmly, not to attend four (4) local Churches, as “I am sinning against God” (Is there any other way??), or “This is a Family church” or “I might have to use the bathrooms”. While I won’t identify any of them here, churches today often seem to be far more concerned about “The Bible Says…. [insert one’s personal opinion/belief here]”, without stopping for even a moment to consider a person’s being transgender is a biological matter (that is, what many might consider a “circumstance of birth defect”) and is not a mental health issue. Just as most people are “straight” physically normal; other people are born Gay (no, no one “chooses” to be Gay). Some people are born Intersex (persons who have both male AND female reproductive organs – Yes, Fernandina does in fact contain Intersex people), and some people, myself included, are born Transgender. By the way, whom, exactly, should Intersex people date? As they are born with both male and female organs, should they date / be interested in Men, or should they date / be interested in Women? If a person is a good person, their sexuality is between them and God and is no other person’s business.

I suppose it’s right that Christians shouldn’t allowed us to worship in churches; The Bible Says that for whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach [God]: A blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken shall not be admitted into churches before the Lord. Only those who are Physically Perfect may enter churches to worship before God; even the bald shall not be admitted into church before the Lord.

Mental health issues often accompany one’s being transgender, but these tend to be be the nearly predictable consequence of: Familial rejection, theological rejection, educational system rejection, social rejection, employment/professional rejection and medical professionals’ rejection. It takes an uncommonly strong person to not wither in the face of such overwhelming rejection from every side, and I am not that person. As do some 87% of TG persons, I almost daily live with suicide ideation. I point out both that I am not suicidal, I live with suicide ideation; i.e., the idea that if my Quality of Life becomes too unbearable, well, I’m going to die anyway. Also, I point out that if 9 out of 10 of any population does Something; by definition, that Something – whatever it may be, is Normal for that population.

There was a time in America when neighbors unhesitatingly came forward for others in times of need or emergency; that has become less so today. No one came forward to assist when I was getting beat up or my teeth knocked out; no one came forward when a pastor asked me not to attend their church; no one came forward when dentists declined to provide their services, or doctors, or surgeons, or other medical specialists. Where Gay people are now nearly seamlessly integrated into Society, Transgender persons today are where Gay people were perhaps 12-15 years ago: Witness the plethora of anti-LGBT, anti-transgender bills; the “Don’t Say Gay” bills, Bathroom Bills, anti-transgender-athlete bills, nonexistence of protections against discrimination in employment, medical care and so much more. Perhaps Christians who actually follow Jesus and do not cast judgment will heed your admonition: “we all need to stop throwing around insults and stereotypes based on gender race religion or so called privilege”. Surely, God would appreciate and rewards others’ kindnesses and acceptance, instead of others rejecting those of us whom medical science has determined are the circumstance of biological consequence and are otherwise simply normal, boring, everyday people.

Thomas Washburn
Thomas Washburn
2 months ago

As Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow stated, “We will not let hate win.”
We must not be indifferent. We must resist non-violently.

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