Scott Township Has One Chance to Address Transphobic Culture of Commissioners

Scott Township board vice president Paul Abel misgendered PA Secretary of Health during a recent board meeting.

I’m not going to reprint the slur, you can find that here andhere.

Coverage so far implies several things

  • Abel’s ‘frustration’ over how the State is handling coronavirus justifies or explains his transphobia.
  • Other Commissions acknowledged his bigotry, after the fact. Their failure to call him to order about his conduct during the meeting and on the record is an additional layer of trauma. Now we get an apology tour from them instead of the truth.
  • It also makes me wonder about the Comission culture. Why are women apologizing and setting things right? Why didn’t they feel empowered to do so in the meeting? What is going on?

Why hasn’t he owned his mistake and apologized? What sort of human being just stays quiet except one who believes what he said?

It could not be more clear that Scott Township needs to pass a municipal non-discrimination ordinance. This is the best response – creating hyperlocal supports, establishing training resources for all Township Commissioners and staff, and MOST IMPORTANTLY sending the strongest possible message to the trans community that they are welcome and safe in Scott Township.

Because posting an apology letter on your website doesn’t remotely offset the wound the Commission has exposed in their community. Apologies do not make people safe, ordinances will make Scott Township safer.

Let’s skip the dance where Scott Township trots out repeatedly debunked reasons not to pass this ordinance. It isn’t addresed by PA state law. It isn’t addressed by diversity policies. Allegheny County’s law doesn’t eliminate the need for local action. Nothing prevents Scott Township from taking this step.

Let’s go right to the part where the Commissioners contact Ross Township or Mt. Lebanon, then work with an advocacy group to craft an ordinance for their Township.

Obviously, Commissioner Abel owes Dr. Levine an apology. But the rest of the Commission in its entirety owes us swift decisive action.

With each passing day, Scott Township is not safe for transgender neighbors. The Commission clearly could not compel an effective immediate response to transphobia among their peers. They must take legislative action swiftly to show they are serious. A local Black transwoman died a few weeks ago. A Philadelphia Black trans woman was literally dismembered last week. A Cincinnati Black trans woman was killed by three people including a 14 year old girl. Don’t fool yourself that these are isolated incidents unconnected to the transphobic hate that Commissioner Abel spat into a Township meeting.

The ordinance is the only solution.

Anything else is simply window dressing.


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  • I live in Scott Township. My group, Pittsburgh Freethought Community, and I are taking action. I’ll inform you if/when we receive a reply from the commissioners.

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