I promised myself I’d never write about this, as it felt like a violation of an unspoken trust.
Current events caused me to change my mind.
It was a small Texas town back in the fifties, steeped in Southern Baptist religion and ruled by parents who survived the depression. The town culture was a schizophrenic tug of war of hard line religion, the beginnings of rock and roll and poodle skirts.
My sophomore year of high school began with a change that none of us could have imagined. One of our classmates ended the previous school year as Ronald (not the real name) and started the next as Ronnie. We never knew what the reason was; other than Ronald had a medical event that forced the family to make a decision that would affect the rest of his life. Ronald was popular, outgoing; a star athlete who would no longer participate in sports.
The first time Ronnie appeared in the girl’s locker room to change clothes for the gym was awkward and I imagine something akin to Hell for her. Teenagers can be brutal, but no one uttered one single unkind word to Ronnie. We all shared her pain for a situation she had to accept in such a public way. I’d like to believe even in our naïveté, we admired her courage.
Ronnie didn’t hide but she didn’t socialize much either. She graduated and went to college and enjoyed a successful career.
The female senator who authored the disgusting Texas bathroom bill is a fifth generation native, from a small town probably much like the one I where I grew up. The senator claims ancestral roots from the Texas War of Independence, which infers a strong independent woman with courage.
It’s too bad she didn’t know Ronnie. She could use a bit of her heart and a lot of her courage.