BY DANIEL TIRABASSI
The new “gender neutral Santa movement” is distracting the community from Trump’s moves to ban trans people from serving in the military.
It’s been hard to log into social media over the past week without reading an article or seeing friends posting options about the request for a gender neutral Santa Claus. The story originated in the United Kingdom and quickly made its way across the Atlantic. However, there is a lot being left out of the story and a big reason many are focusing on the one question.
The story emerged after a logo company released results from a survey conducted in the United States and the U.K. The survey was used to see how modernizing Christmas symbols would affect marketing strategies during the holiday season. GraphicSprings, the company behind the survey, asked questions about Santa’s clothing, body art and gender in order to examine how to modernize the timeless hero of Christmas.
This is where the facts start to get foggy and the controversy begins. The company only received 400 responses to their survey, which is a very low number considering they used Google to collect their data in two countries. The results show minimal interest at all for modernizing the classic figure with all percentages being at or under a quarter of respondents. The lowest of the numbers actually dealt with Santa’s gender. Only 11% of respondents said they wanted Santa to be shown as female and only 17% said they wanted Santa to be a gender neutral character.
So why is there all this uproar about changing the gender of a fictional Christmas figure? It all has to do with timing and content — and a major shift in focus. This story broke on major news in the U.S. on December 14. The news that the Trump administration filed for the Supreme Court to take up the matter of the transgender military ban broke on November 23. It is also right before a holiday that is highly important to evangelicals.
The choice of Santa is a strategic one. By focusing on a very male character associated with a holiday that is built on religion, conservative Christians seem to be targeted. By getting the core of the Republican party angry, the administration can use the anger to push for Trump’s case to be heard in the Supreme Court. His ability to show concern on the topic of gender could highlight the safety issue that he has emphasized in order to place the ban of transgender people in the military.
The move is to pull the focus from the ban while still adding to the notion that having transgender military personnel would reduce readiness and focus of the military as a whole. While those fighting to gain equality for all have said nothing about the rouse that is a gender neutral Santa, if it ignites the uproar among the masses that it is meant to ignite, the administration could use it to further their agenda against the transgender community.
Our community needs to do two things with this bogus story. The first is to let Santa be Father Christmas, the old fat man that comes down the chimney to leave presents for children around the world. After all, male is a valid gender identity and expression. The second is to keep fighting this insane military ban. Multiple generals, the Pentagon employees and other experts are saying that this ban is not only unnecessary, but uncalled for, and the Trump administration is fighting against logic. We need to keep pulling focus to the fact that transgender individuals are people who can do anything cisgender people can do; that their transition does not affect their ability to serve the country they love and are willing to risk their lives to protect.
Remember to always focus on the important things. While a fictional character’s gender is not important, the issue the story is masking very much is. We want all people willing to protect our country doing what they aspire to do. So fight for those that want to protect you and let the mask fall away.
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