Good People Were Stirred by the Bad News

Photo by Lucy NicholsonReuters

Clara Barnhurst

Everyone got the memo. And, just to make sure nobody missed it, the official proposals to the UN crystallised the ugly truth that we’ve all known for two years: the US government is coming for us. All transgender people, everywhere.

I have to admit, I did spend a couple of days in bed panicking. Even from my place of relative safety, the tremors of the memo were felt. We are all afraid. Now that the UN is involved, the UK doesn’t feel quite so safe. This thing affects us all now in a palpable way. We knew it would eventually spread as American policy has a way of doing that, but the speed of the movement is particularly frightening.

“We’ve been here before. People have been trying to do this forever and we’re still here,” a pair of psychology students in New Hampshire related. Concerned, but not afraid. Or at least, not more afraid than they usually are. Perhaps it’s my generation of transitioning folk that feels so pressed by this? The 20th century was a bit of a dark age and people survived. We’re still here.


There is a greater vulnerability in the modern generation. At this time, more people are visibly transitioning than any other point in history. The gender movement is soaring and the backlash Trump is spearheading stands to hurt millions. Maybe we’ve been here before, but there are many more visible targets now. Fewer are suffering in silence, the option of adjusting to suit one’s gender identity is more well known, and many of us that could have faded into the woodwork haven’t.

But perhaps strength in numbers is enough. This week, I’ve encountered more cisgender allies than I have in the past two years. Friends of mine are coming to me asking what they can do. They want to help. They see our plight and hate what’s happening.

Even Caitlyn Jenner pulled a reversal and for once I have to hand it to her: now is the time to defect and it’s good of her to admit she was wrong. How any transgender person can support the Trump administration I do not know; it’s like bacteria campaigning for soap. But after this, how could any self respecting queer defend him?

That brought the UN proposals into the BBC’s main news spotlight. And I have more DMs this morning from people asking how they can help. Allies are coming out of the woodwork and they are angry.

I’m glad they’re angry. They can help by staying angry. My fight is the fight all transgender people have: a daily struggle to just be. Mostly, I want to be left alone. I want to go through life, play my games, cook for my friends and drink rare, unusual beer. I want to plan my wedding. I don’t want to sit and talk trans all day but how can I not when major world powers are hitting the UN with direct attacks on my right to exist? I’m exhausted with it.

UN Background photo by Denis BalibouseReuters

“I am scared for you too, and all I can do is post memes and vote,” a friend said to me in exasperation.

I say to you what I said to her: post memes and vote. That’s a wonderful idea. Stay angry, post memes and vote. If that’s what you can do, do it. And if that’s all you do, then you are helping. I am grateful.

Truth is, that’s all I can do: post bits and vote. Spread the word. Let people know what is happening and keep people active. Maybe it feels paltry, but it matters. I am battered from the daily struggle of being. I need my friends to be outraged for me. I need them to spread the word for me while I take some time out to just panic — to feel — so I can get back into that fight again. We can’t afford to stop, which means allies need to step in while we rest.

It’s of critical importance that transgender people feel supported. My ability to function is a direct result of the support I get from so many. Some close, some that just drop in a comment that spreads the love. It all matters. Those cheesy memes about telling a trans friend you love them? They’re true. Do that. Maybe you don’t feel you can safely post things publicly, but private comments of support matter.


I suppose the most important thing is to do something. If you can come out in public as a trans ally, do that. If you can post articles and spread the word, please do. For the love of god, vote. Kick ‘em in the midterms. Keep kicking. Kick ‘em in the election. Right where it hurts. You don’t have to make a lot of noise to make a difference.

I was having a conversation last week with a vegan friend (one of many) about how activism often alienates the middle. We were talking about a local vegan protest march at the time, and it’s true that I look at them all stood there holding up pictures of sheep or whatever and I think that actually, I want nothing to do with that lot of crazies even if I do agree with most of what they have to say. What the Trump administration has shown me is that works both ways. They’ve alienated the middle. Folks on the fence are looking at this attack on transgender existence, deciding they don’t want anything to do with that lot of crazies, and they’re coming to us for advice.

Maybe we are under attack, but we have a growing wave of outrage we can use. People want to join in, so let’s show them how. Good people are being stirred by this, and it doesn’t have to end with bad news. Like everything else, we didn’t ask for this fight but we can finish it. We can finish it and make some friends along the way.

Comments (2)
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I have pics in my phone of my documents, meds, etc. I cannot imagine being made illegal by this buffoon but it already happened once with the Real ID. My license said federal limits apply and then I was not able to renew my passport. I have found more allies than I anticipated yet I could see this coming. We the people cannot be so blind, if they just don;t like us they are myopic in that they will be coming after abortion too. I think it will be in state laws, federal reimbursement, etc. They will leave Roe v. Wade but make finding services impossible. They are sneaky like they are in this attack on us by trying to change and redefine. This is a scary time to be a citizen and even scarier for us.


I believe you are correct about the generational difference. I'm concerned but not panicked. 30 years ago when I first came out I would carry a letter from my doctor stating I was under his care and that my "crossdressing" was part of my treatment; as it was still illegal to crossdress. Let that sink in. It's something this generation has not dealt with. The hope was the officer would give me a break and not arrest me since I was under treatment. Every time there is great progress there will be push back. This is the push back. We just have to use social media and VOTE. As you say, I would rather be spending time with my grandchild at the park than dealing with this nonsense but it politics. They can't pick on the LGB any more so they have moved on to the T. Unfortunately it will also suck in the Intersex community to our cause and since they are a larger population that may actually help us. All is not yet lost.

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