Fear and Loathing in Transgender Land
To say it has been a long year is an understatement. It was one that started in a daze as the world began the process of recovering from the shocking reality that everything had suddenly been turned upside down. Please forgive the Hunter S. Thompson-esque title of this article, but for me, fear and loathing is the best way to sum up my feelings over this past year as I write my final rant for 2017. It has been over three years since the beautiful Laverne Cox graced the cover of Time Magazine as they declared that we had reached the transgender tipping point. None of us expected the tipping point to mean what we all ended up experiencing.
For a moment, there was so much promise. We had Gavin Grimm heading to the Supreme Court in a case that could have meant equal protections for transgender kids in schools all across the United States. The issue of transgender rights was at the forefront of the debate. All of a sudden it seemed safer to come out, and we had people coming out from everywhere. Not only did we see athletes, musicians, movie stars, and models proudly declare their true existence, but also school kids, parents, friends, coworkers, and neighbors alike. We finally had an administration that sought to protect us, and the battles were being fought. Yes we still had so much work to do, but it seemed as if it were only a matter of time before we achieved our goal of having equal rights. It was all within our grasp, but suddenly it appeared as though it was being ripped away.
"HATE, NAZI’S, AND WHITE SUPREMACISTS WERE SUDDENLY REPLACING WHAT HAD SEEMED LIKE A FUTURE FULL OF HOPE, LOVE, AND RAINBOWS."
Hate, Nazi’s, and white supremacists were suddenly replacing what had seemed like a future full of hope, love, and rainbows. We watched in horror as the current administration knocked us back into the 1950’s by systematically beginning to dismantle all the gains we had achieved in the years prior. The Gavin Grimm case was pushed back to the lower courts. The Trump administration removed LGBTQ+ protections from federal guidelines and attempted to remove an Obama era directive that would allow transgender people to enlist and serve in the military. We saw an uprising from dregs of our society as they began to feel bold and empowered. Our worst fears were being realized.
Initially, I thought it would all be doom and gloom for at least the next four years, but then I realized what we were really looking at was a market correction, resulting from the fears of losing privilege and some laziness on the hands of those who didn’t show up on Election Day. President Trump, along with the Steve Bannons of the world and some Russian meddling, played the fear card with perfection. They stoked the fears of so many who felt they were losing everything, their unearned privileges in an ever-changing world. This correction was a blowback towards the winds of diversity, and it was aimed at not only the transgender community, but all those who are oppressed. The transgender community was just a cog in the wheel that was receiving that backlash. All the walls that stood between race and gender were being built back up as those who fear the reality of change clung to their privileges out of fear. Equal rights for all became the political football of our generation as people took sides and divided our society even further. For some, they were just fooled and didn’t realize what they were signing up for. Ultimately, we learned the hard way that yes, there is such a thing as a lesser of two evils.
A long while ago I had written about the stages of acceptance, and how we were reaching the chasm, the breaking point that a movement must overcome to continue to exist with any relative success. We have just witnessed the blowback to that defining moment, as we were about to reach it. Those who are on the side of hate and division are having their ten minutes, or should I say four years. Though they are still stoking the flames of fear by trying to frame the transgender experience as an ideology meant to indoctrinate the children of the world, the majority is no longer buying it. The good news is that there is another market correction coming, and it will be bigger than anything we have seen before.
"BEING TRANSGENDER IS NOT AN IDEOLOGY; IT IS AN ACTUALITY."
Being transgender is not an ideology; it is an actuality. The fact is that we do exist, and we aren’t going anywhere. People can try to erase us and debate our very existence all they want. It doesn’t change the fact that more of us come out each and every day. If people are afraid of a diverse world that includes everyone, then perhaps they should be, because this is something they cannot stop no matter whom they elect. Eventually, they will need to learn and live with this fact, and hopefully one day they realize there is nothing to fear.
Despite a year filled with bad news, the increased killing of transgender women of color, and the attempts at erasing us, we are still moving forward as a community. We are beginning to see transgender representation in politics with the victories of transgender politicians such as Andrea Jenkins and Danica Roem. We are still coming out, and as we do society continues to change despite those who are kicking and screaming about it. The world will not change as a result of political victories. It changes through our own personal experiences with other people. The more society understands who we are; the more they see how inhuman it is to oppress us. This goes beyond the rights of just transgender people; it is about the rights of everyone. It is the understanding that if they allow society to continue to oppress us, then who is next? We are all in this together.
Over the past year I have learned to turn the fear I had felt into a renewed sense of purpose and ambition, but I am still working on the loathing piece of the puzzle. Hopefully I will one day get over it. What I do know is that the blowback to what we experienced this past year will be beyond anything we have seen in the past, and it will be on the side of diversity. The sleeping giant is now awake and we won’t be keeping our guard down this time around. We will break through that chasm, for yes, the tipping point has already occurred. The world is changing and it cannot be stopped. We aren’t going anywhere, so those who hate and divide better get used to it.
Stay safe and keep fighting for all of us!
Love and Peace,
P.S. – Wishing all our amazing readers a happy holidays and an amazing new year to come!