A couple days ago while heading to Rosh Hashanah services, I learned that one of the other candidates dropped out of the race for San Francisco School Board. People had been calling for Zhao to step aside for a while now while her personal views about trans people like myself evolved. When I was asked about whether or not I would "disavow" her at the Harvey Milk club, I said that I would rather educate her on trans issues than cut her off as many of my colleagues were quick to do from the stage.
Let me tell you why.
I am trans, a fact that doesn't get me clocked as much as my trans sisters, but can oftentimes get me misgendered when people want to make a point. My identity is not a wedge issue, but people try make it so when it’s convenient for them. Performative allies try to make it about their own candidates being supportive of trans kids, but trans identity all comes down to, for me personally, me being a man and others accepting that point. For trans children, their gender identity should receive as much dignity and respect as anyone else’s.
When someone says that they are, "not down with Zhao," it cuts her, as a paraprofessional, off from the education that I want to bring to the district on this and many other issues. I don't have the luxury of cutting people who do not get my transgender identity out of my life and disavowing them. For me, to do that would mean cutting many people I meet on the street out of a conversation. A conversation to educate. A conversation to change ignorance. A chance to make things for myself and others just a bit better than they are right now. Disavowing people who are evolving in their ideas would mean that we would lose potential allies, and yes, even the performative ones.
I thank Josephine Zhao for thinking about her past statements and halting her run for a position that impacts the youth of San Francisco – and education in the Bay.