“KEEP YOUR FACE ALWAYS TOWARD THE SUNSHINE – AND SHADOWS WILL FALL BEHIND YOU.” – Walt Whitman
“Here we go! We can do this,” I declared confidently.
I took the lead as Daughter and I started up the narrow path that would take us over the Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel on the Harbor Bridge. We had decided it would be fun and challenge our slight feat of heights to join the monthly Bridgewalk. The route starts at Heritage Park in Corpus Christi, goes over the bridge to North Beach and back to Heritage Park. Driving over it was nothing new as we both live in Portland and must drive over it to get to Corpus Christi. What a fun way to spend Mother’s Day morning – a three-mile walk together!
There were walkers ahead of us and walkers behind us. On the left was a concrete barrier and three lanes of traffic. To the right was high open iron railing and below was the ship channel that widened out into the bay and eventually the Gulf of Mexico and far away ports of the world. The sky was slightly overcast but we would have a great view at the top. I had visions of mother/daughter selfies to post triumphantly!
As we walked (it seemed like climbing to me) higher and higher and the wind picked up, panic set in like a stone. Could I really do this? I reached for the rough and dirty concrete barrier and my hand hovered over it as I walked as if it would somehow ground me. Don’t look down! Don’t look down! One foot in front of the other. Don’t stumble! Keep your eyes on the person in front of you! The wind was stronger now. Eighteen-wheelers whizzed by from behind as if inches away and seemed to make the bridge rattle. Drivers of pick-up trucks sounded their horns as they passed in recognition of the walkers. I somehow felt like a refugee fleeing the city in fear or part of some death march. Was Daughter still behind me? We were not talking and I was not looking back.
The path leveled out as we were beneath the overhead structure of the bridge which made me feel a little more secure, but I was not looking at the view and a selfie was out of the question. No word from Daughter behind me. I trudged on and gratefully started the descent to North Beach.
At the bottom Daughter was right behind me as we stopped for a sip of water provided by the organizers. Then under the bridge and back to the other side for the return trip. We could do this! We did it once we could do it again! It was a bit easier going back but I continued to let my left hand hover over the concrete barrier and look straight ahead. On this side of the bridge were Whataburger Field, Hurricane Alley, ships docked for loading and unloading and the refineries in the distance further up the ship channel.
As soon as we reached solid ground again we hugged with cries of, “We did it!”
Husband was waiting to pick us up. “I saw you and waved to you both ways,” he said, “but you never looked up.”
“No,” we confessed, “we could not look down!” We could laugh at ourselves now.
Harbor Bridge will be replaced in five years so we wanted to walk it now. The new one will allow for larger and taller ships. Ground will be broken this soon for the new one. It will be my third bridge. As a child I remember driving with my parents over the drawbridge, Corpus Christi Bascule, on our way to North Beach. I hope to see my third bridge and may want to walk over it and will certainly drive over it. Cheers!
As humans we share the need to relieve ourselves and must resort to seeking out public facilities when away from home. What is a normal function has become controversial. One state, North Carolina, has passed HB2 requiring people to use the restroom (in certain public entities)that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate. Conservative Republicans and activists in Texas are urging the Texas legislature to pass something similar in the next session nine months from now. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick agrees and has declared that it will be a priority; Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has promised his support. It seems some cisgenders are afraid to share these bio breaks with transgenders. Why?
One argument is that men should not be allowed in a women’s restroom because they might attack/rape women and girls. There is no evidence of dangerous predators pretending to be transgender in American bathrooms What about their safety? Dressed as a female, are they expected to enter a men’s restroom and feel safe? Are the cisgender males who are pushing the issue the ones who are afraid but cover up by claiming they are only protecting women and girls? Women can and do stand up for themselves.
Things have been working fine so far without government restroom rules, and transgenders have been using the facility of their choice without any fuss. Transgenders are ordinary people with careers in business, government, broadcasting, fashion and movies; they are students and volunteers; for those in the military, policies are changing too. Some transition young and some later in life. Passing unnecessary legislation simply stigmatizes them, makes them feel that they do not belong and harms the entire LGBT community.
While I don’t fully understand gender dysphoria, it is real and important to those who experience it. I also believe that ignorance, fear, bigotry and even hatred drives some of these attitudes against transgenders. Perhaps some are pushing this for their own political and personal ambitions while fueling prejudice, fear and suspicion.
Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality in Texas expressed his feelings this way, “These proposed gender-police laws are a solution in search of a problem, and actually it’s pandering and it’s dangerous.” I AGREE!