The Intersections

            THE ONLY LGBTQ NEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT SOURCE FOR NORTH CENTRAL ILLINOIS

TRANSGENDER AND GENDER NONCONFORMING
   OPINION
     LGBTQ EDUCATION IS NOT A SUBJECT FOR YOUNG KIDS
          COMPLEXITIES OF LGBTQ ISSUES MAKE THEM INAPPROPRIATE FOR 
                      KINDERGARTEN AND EARLY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

     
   

    By A.J. Smuskiewicz


               
                                                                                                                              My connection to the LGBTQ community came about from my occasional                                                                                                                                    crossdressing, which led me into gay bars and to making personal contacts                                                                                                                                that I would not have ordinarily made.

                                                                                                                              I do not consider myself gay or transgender. I crossdress just for fun and                                                                                                                                    I’m heterosexual. In fact, this Halloween night, I dressed as a stripper and                                                                                                                                    went with my dancer girlfriend to Scores, a strip club in Stone Park. We                                                                                                                                        both know people there. I became the first crossdresser ever to be allowed                                                                                                                                to pole-dance on stage at the club. I even got $31 in tips thrown at me as I                                                                                                                                  danced to Rob Zombie’s “Dragula”!

                                                                                                                              The general public—even a crowd of horny drunken hetero guys—can be                                                                                                                                    more open-minded and accepting than it is generally given credit for.

                                                                                                                              I share this story because it probably suggests why I tend to look at certain                                                                                                                                LGBTQ  issues differently than most members of the LGBTQ community. I                                                                                                                                  strongly support gay and transgender people in their quests to live free,                                                                                                                                      happy, and fulfilling lives. Yet, I find that when it comes to a number of c                                                                                                                                      controversial, politically charged issues, my views and those of the typical                                                                                                                                    gay or transgender person differ.

​                                                                                                                              One such issue is education about LGBTQ subject matter in kindergarten                                                                                                                                    and elementary school. I believe that there are complexities to this issue                                                                                                                                    that are often ignored by LGBTQ advocates and the mass media.

                                                 


    
​    Multifaceted transgenderism
 
     Watching or reading the majority of mass-media reports on what is called “transgenderism,” one would never know that this is a very                         multifaceted issue. The media never informs the public that men have different reasons for dressing like women.

     The simplified reports never note that although some genetic males genuinely identify as female, others (like me) simply dress up for fun or             sexual arousal.

     The implication of the media reports is that any man wearing a dress is “transgender,” should be called “she,” and should be allowed to use the       women’s restroom. Well, although Scores let me dance like a woman on stage, they also made me use the men’s room. And I was fine with that.

     Because I am a man. A man who likes to wear dresses and skirts.

     Another simplified part of the LGBTQ media narrative is the idea that transgenderism is something people are always born with—and                       something you know even when you’re a very young child. So, a little five-year-old “transgender” boy is supposedly capable of already knowing       for sure that he is really a girl.

     This supposition—promoted by many psychiatrists in the increasingly profitable gender-identity industry—ignores the fact that the very young       brain and its sexual and gender centers are still developing neurologically, and that concepts of sexuality and gender are also related to                   personal experiences that will happen later in life. The supposition further ignores the fact that, in many cases, the strong desire for dressing           or living as the opposite sex does not arise until later in life, maybe not until middle age. Many middle-aged men who enjoy wearing women's         clothes may find themselves still confused regarding their gender identity. If a middle-aged man can still be confused over such things, how             can a young child be expected to know?

    I speak, again, from personal experience. I was confused about this matter for many years, mainly when I was in my 30s and 40s. My life-long          enjoyment of women’s clothes combined with my exposure to media and pop-cultural propaganda to make me think for a while that I was t            transsexual. Thankfully, I never made the mistakes of starting hormones or subjecting myself to surgery—the way one of my therapists was            trying to convince me to do. Unfortunately, many other confused men have made such life-altering mistakes.
 
    Nevertheless, recent history indicates that when the cultural warriors of the Left seize upon an issue, they do not concern themselves with such      troubling intricacies or complexities. Rather, they use their firm control of most of the reigns of Western culture to ram their simplified                      solutions to social woes into every nook and cranny of society.
 
    Culture warriors in school
 
    Perhaps the most unethical recent move of the progressive warriors has been to convince local school boards to indoctrinate kindergarten and      early elementary school children about transgenderism. About how being a “boy” or a “girl” is not a set physical reality, but rather a “social                construct” and a flexible option for anyone and everyone. This propaganda is being taught in more and more schools in the United States and        Europe. The LGBTQ movement is taking a very complex sexual/gender condition that affects a tiny percentage of the population and using it to      proselytize their progressive gospel to children who are too young to understand any sexuality, much less the unusual concept of                              transsexuality. Although the progressives think they are educating, they are actually just confusing.

    In August 2017, parents in Rocklin, California, expressed their anger at the local school board regarding a teacher who read books about                  transgenderism to her kindergarten students and had the class watch as one boy changed his clothes to those of a girl. The teacher explained t      that the clothes-changing child was “transitioning” from one gender to the other. Many of the parents were upset that their children came                home from school “very confused, about whether or not you can pick your gender, whether or not they really were a boy or a girl.” The parents      were also upset that they were not told about the activity in advance. As one mother said, “It’s really about the parents being informed and              involved and giving us the choice and rights of what’s being introduced to our kids, and at what age.”

    The Rocklin school board sided with the teacher and brushed off the parents’ complaints, no doubt viewing them as ignorant and prejudiced.          The board could also point to California state law that does not allow parents to be warned ahead of time or to opt out of “instruction” about          gender identity or sexual orientation. Such assaults on parental rights are frequently occurring in many other schools, school boards, and                legislatures across the United States, Canada, and Europe. The ignoring and belittling of parents with traditional values is on wide display and          protected by the all-powerful state. If your kid can deal with the confusing instruction, good for him or her. If not, then that’s his or her problem       —and your problem.
 
   Education or confusion?
 
    In June 2017, British academic Joanna Williams, author of Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity, made the following politically incorrect          points about the confusing nature of transgender education in the United Kingdom. I believe these same points could apply to the United                States:
 
                       “We are increasingly reminded that schools are struggling financially. Yet the time, effort and money that goes into
                        producing and monitoring transgender policies is out of all proportion to the tiny number of trans children currently
                        in … schools. Research suggests that just one percent of the population experience gender issues. … Although the
                        number of transgender children is small, it is growing rapidly. Children, encouraged by their experiences at school,
                        are beginning to question their gender identity at ever younger ages. In doing more than just supporting transgender
                        children, and instead sowing confusion about gender identity, schools do neither boys nor girls any favors.”
 
    Williams and some other observers point out what should be obvious: there is a big difference between treating children who have gender              dysphoria or gender identity disorder and actually causing gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder in previously well-adjusted children. I        believe that my own temporary middle-aged gender dysphoria, or gender confusion, was caused by propaganda from the mass media and pop      culture and by therapists who were more befuddled than I was. It kills me now to see similar confusion being purposefully foisted on little kids        in the public-school system.


    Sexuality and transsexuality are important human and social issues. But these are not subjects to force into the simple, innocent minds of pre-        pubescent children. They are subjects that individuals should confront beginning in their pubescent or teen years, when the vast majority of            people are first beginning to develop sexual feelings and to understand the significance of gender expression. When this subject matter is                finally presented to these older students, it should be presented in all of its complexity (which the older kids should be able to comprehend              fairly well), rather than its mass-media simplification. And the information should also be presented free from political advocacy.
 
     Education should result in enlightenment, not bewilderment. And topics of education should be presented at ages in which they can most               appropriately be comprehended. There is a time and place for everything—for young boys and girls to learn about transgenderism, and maybe       even for an old crazy guy to dance in a sequin corset and ruffled miniskirt in a strip club!



​     
      Email responses to gretchenrachelhammond@gmail.com


 


A.J. Smuskiewicz dressed as Jessica Shores is pictured grasping a pole while taking the stage before a performance.  Image courtesy of A.J. Smuskiewicz.
  

but not that much anymore.

Ki’Arra Inifiti Ross is a retired drag queen and a new father.
Jazzelle Boyette-LaRouge still does drag to this day and also does pageants here and there.
She was the one who introduced me to that world and taught me the ropes.
Dymond Champagne Calloway is a show director at Maneuvers and the reigning Miss Illinois State.
Lana Lake-LaRouge is an amazing cosplayer designer and comes out whenever she feels like it.
Selena LaRouge is currently working in Springfield, Illinois, and does drag every so often.
Sherry Flambe is a comedy queen and still performs. Karizma Mirage is a show director
at Hamburger Mary’s in Milwaukee for her own show, as well as for Plan B and
Five Nightclub in Madison, Wisconsin.

AJS: Who are some well-known people that you have worked with or met during your career?

CCL: I have worked with a good handful of well-known people. including Mimi Marks,
Tajma Hall, Mercedes Tyler, Victoria LePaige, Kinley Preston, Miss Ruff N Stuff,
Lucy Stoole, and Trannika Rex. I’ve also worked with a number of RuPaul stars,
such as Alexis Mateo, Shangela, Yara Sofia, Phi Phi O’Hara, Latrice Royale, Mimi Imfurst,
Pearl, Kim Chi, and Shea Coulee. And I have met and worked with a handful of real celebrities, including Taylor Dayne, Thelma Houston, Monique, and Kristine W.

This past Chicago Pridefest. I was just getting done with our show, and we were all getting ready for the curtain call, when Kristine W approached me to say she loved my makeup. She then asked me to paint her dancers and give her a touchup. Shocked and amazed, I rushed into the trailer and went to work! We now keep in contact, and when she’s back in Chicago, I’ll be right there with brushes in hand to make her fabulous. Don’t be surprised if you’ll catch her wearing a LaRouge Designs costume or two as well!

AJS: When did you launch your fashion design business, LaRouge Designs? Is that a full-time occupation for you?

CCL: I launched LaRouge Designs this year because of the popularity my designs gained thanks to Lucy Stoole and Monica Beverly Hillz. Monica wore one of my designs on the red carpet for “Drag Race,” and Lucy’s video game character wears one of my creations.  Since then, it has become a full-time occupation for me, as well as a way to make costumes for myself every week. It’s been a very humbling experience. My designs are tailored to my clients’ personalities. I first get to know them and then make them something special and unique. I love that they give me all the time I need and the autonomy to make my creations come to life.

AJS:  How do you develop your design ideas? Are you inspired by any other designers or artists?

CCL: I honestly don’t know how I come up with the designs. I just do it. Sometimes it’s a song that’ll inspire the noodle, or a look someone had and I just change it completely. There may be small hints of who or where the idea for a design came from, but largely it’s all me. For example, my Kim Kardashian-inspired jean boot… Now everyone wants a pair of those! But for the most part, I would say it’s the song [intended for a performance] that will inspire the look for a design. The only downside is that the garment may not be versatile with other songs.

AJS: You also do charity-related or volunteer work for Joliet Junior College.

CCL: We—meaning myself and other girls—put on a show at JJC to raise funds for World AIDS Day. We’ve been doing it every year for, I think, seven years.

AJS: You describe yourself as gender-neutral. Why?

CCL: I don’t like labels, except on clothing. Labels place restrictions on people. I prefer the term “human” since we all have that thing in common. At the end of the day, I’m a dude in a dress. Why make it more complicated than that? I think if we do away with labels, we will then see we have more things in common and we can become a better society.

AJS: Do you have any special plans or goals for your careers (drag or fashion)?

CCL: My goal at this time is to keep paying my bills on time. I’m in the process of finding a new home for myself and a new home for LaRouge Designs. It’s gotten so chaotic in my house—with all of the drag and sewing—that I feel it’s best to put that all in a separate space. I think I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. If God sends me in a new direction, I’ll gladly take on that challenge. As of right now, I’m quite content working my shows, travelling the country, making my creations, and being happy.