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Jon Lindgren, Fargo, Published November 09 2013

Letter: All members of ‘protected class’

Tom Freier of the North Dakota Family Alliance wrote (Forum, Nov. 5) that those who self-identify their gender or sexual orientation are seeking a “protected class” status. He does not seem to realize that he, himself, self-identifies his own gender.

We are all members of the same “protected class.” I’m certain Freier self-identifies as a heterosexual male. If circumstances changed, and he no longer felt that identity is an accurate reflection of himself, he should be free to change his self-identified male heterosexuality to something else without losing the ability to obtain employment and housing.

Freier’s conservative religious community has chosen to insert itself into individuals’ decisions about how to present themselves to others. This, even though the gender or orientation one presents to the public is sometimes a painful and even dangerous decision. Frequently, people feel safer by not revealing their true orientation or gender. These include the one we know most about, gay people who present themselves as straight. If such individuals choose to change, and present themselves to the public as gay, they should not suffer discrimination.

Another group are people incorrectly assigned a gender by their doctor and/or parents at birth. When they later present themselves to the public with the correct gender they, too, should be able to live without discrimination.

All people, including Freier, should be able to self-identify their gender and sexual orientation, to present themselves to the public in ways that make their lives better. I applaud efforts of the Fargo City Commission to improve the lives of Fargo citizens be eliminating forms of discrimination in our city.

Lindgren is former mayor of Fargo and past president, Red River Freethinkers.