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   a porous gender barrier in blue state public schools
Friday, March 31 2023
I took a recreational 150 mg dose of psedophedrine this morning, which this time really seemed to help me with my workplace work. I felt like I had reached a stopping place with what I needed to do for the week by the mid afternoon.
Soon thereafter, our friend K got off work from her job as a school teacher and drove over. This is the K who lived with us in Harkness Co-op in the 1988-1989 school year at Oberlin College and who has lived most of her life in New Paltz. For her, this was a fairly rare social call; the last time she'd come to our house had been a couple years ago during the height of the pandemic, back when Powerful was living with us and had yet to attempt to live in Albany.
As always, we had a great conversation while she was here, one filled with oddball stories and hilarious incidents. One subject was transgender children in the local public school systems. Gretchen and I mostly know about the phenomenon of transgender children from the draconian laws passed to crack down on it in red states (though our teenage niece currently has a romantic partner who uses "they" and "their" as pronouns). According to K, the ease with which kids today claim alternative genders has lead to widespread confusion, especially when the kids inform their teachers and classmates while keeping their often unsupportive parents in the dark. Apparently this confusion is compounded by a lack any consistent policy by school officials. In New Paltz, the policy seems to be one of accepting whatever gender the child claims to be, whereas in the Kingston school system, more deference is given to the wishes of the parents. And it's not just a handful of kids experimenting with alternative genders either; some kids treat gender as just another outfit that they can wear for a time and then discard. Lots of kids are also being prescribed puberty blockers, which delay the onset of secondary sexual characteristics without firmly committing one way or the other. I've always thought of transgenderism as a rare thing that has little effect on the majority, but it seems that once it is tolerated, transgender kids swell to a substantial minority. Perhaps the red-state freak out is about more than just trying to bash the tiny fraction of transgender adults; it may actually also be about policing a gender divide that becomes a lot more porous once it is not policed. (None of this is to say that red states enacting laws designed to stigmatize transgender people are anything but abhorrent; it's just that blue state tolerance of transgender concerns comes with its own headaches.)
Later we had a long discussion about people who just can't seem to function in the world. Gretchen lead with an update on Powerful, who seems to keep finding deeper and deeper rock-bottoms to hit. This reminded K of her stepson, who is the leader of a very productive solar panel installation crew based in Georgia. But everything else in his world is a disaster, most due to his often-untreated ADHD. He has, for example, 27 points on his driving record, which means he has to pay auto insurance of $400/month. He's also driving a fairly new car that K made the mistake of co-signing for. So now when he flakes out and forgets to pay his monthly car payment, she is forced to step in to preserve her credit rating. The car is a 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and that seems to be the core of problem, at least as I saw it. "People in their 20s need to be driving clunkers," I decreed.

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