On being trans in 2022.

trans pride flag

So this is not going to be a post about themed entertainment. However, queer people are found way more in the entertainment industry than elsewhere, and that’s something to think about. To be quite honest, this isn’t a post I foresaw myself making even all that long ago. I was going to wait until trans day of visibility, but even waiting an extra month seems too long. Being a trans woman is not something I have ever particularly wanted to be the first thing people know about me, but in light of the state of the world, and particularly the state of the United States, I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable being any degree of quiet about it. Because by not being vocal about it, I’m unable to be as vocal about trans rights as I want to be. And right now there is a veritable shit storm of things to be vocal about. 

My heart is breaking on a daily basis as I see the onslaught of anti-trans and anti-queer legislation being passed around the country. I have found it difficult to sleep, difficult to not cry nightly, as right-wing extremists find every conceivable way to restrict, humiliate, and downright terrorize queer people and lgbt youth in particular. Texas is outlawing all forms of treatment of gender dysphoria for trans kids, and will be targeting parents of trans kids as “child abusers”. Many states are eyeing similar measures. Florida is on track to make it illegal to even talk about sexual orientation or gender identity in schools. My home state, a state I deeply love and care about. There’s legislation that would forcibly out students to parents, there’s legislation that allows emergency workers to refuse to treat queer people on account of religious beliefs, there’s bills and laws restricting kids from participating in sports, from using the bathroom. To be quite honest there’s such a hailstorm of separate attacks I cannot keep them all straight, and by the time I publish this it will be already hopelessly out of date. Here’s a list. And another. And that doesn’t even get into the gender critical cult growing online, or the horrible lgbt abuses going on throughout Europe which seem to be a model for politicians in the states.

It is bad enough when the bills target trans adults, and I have no doubt everything that’s being attempted on trans youth will eventually make it’s way to trans adults, and then the LGBT community as a whole, but the audacity of these neanderthals to target trans kids is enraging. We’re talking about kids who are already on the margins of acceptability, who are already more likely to attempt suicide than most anyone else, who face bullying and ostracism on a daily basis, now having life saving medical care being ripped away from them, along with their parents. In a sign that we are truly living in an Orwellian, Kafkaesque, Lemony Snicket fever-dream, the kids with loving protective parents are at the most risk of being torn away from them, and the kids with unaccepting, possibly abusive parents will be forcibly outed by the state. It is a living nightmare. This is not hyperbole, this is not predicting what might happen. These are the laws currently being debated and already enacted in the United States, though you’d be forgiven for wondering if we had somehow been transported to hell.

I was once a trans kid. I know what that is like. I nearly killed myself on several occasions. And to be quite honest, if I was a trans kid now I’m not sure I would have survived. The pain of being rejected, the world refusing to allow you to be who you are, the pain of your body betraying you in every way, the burden of having to keep a secret so tightly because you know all sorts of hell could rain down upon you if you let it slip: I cannot for the life of me believe that we are willingly, intentionally trying to inflict this pain and suffering upon anyone, much less children and teenagers, and with the full force of the law behind it. When we know puberty-blockers and HRT are life-saving. We know they’re safe. When we know that a loving, supportive environment is the most important thing. It is outrageously cruel, shameful, cowardly, ugly behavior coming from people who I can only assume would run over their own kids with a lawnmower for an ice cream sundae. 

Transition saved my life, affirming therapy saved my life, HRT saved my life. Earlier social transition, earlier therapy, and puberty blockers would have made it so that it didn’t need saving. To intentionally deprive trans youth that path is an appalling act of cold-hearted brutality that shows the lawmakers behind this push are the real Buffalo Bills.

Even more disheartening has been the silence from corporate America, the only entity these legislatures might listen to, which despite painting itself in rainbows and trans pride flags every June, has been quieter than a surreptitious fart. And stinks worse. Whose leaders apparently don’t have a single functioning vertebrae. Who will happily send armies of lobbyists to campaign for tax breaks, and make grand commercials and statements about how inclusivity and diversity are core parts of their brands – and whose activism stops at dying an actor’s hair blue. 

My heart is breaking. I know kids are going to die, are dying, and even more are going to be saddled with a lifetime of pain and mental illness even if we somehow managed to end the madness today. Those scars will last far, far into the future and god do I hope the people responsible will have to live with the guilt of the blood on their hands. But that would assume their hearts have at least as much substance as a build-a-bear’s, which seems optimistic.

If you’re trans or queer out there,  questioning, long-transitioned, suffocating in a closet, I see you. It seems there’s little I can do right now to stop the tsunami ahead, but I can write this, which I know isn’t all that much, but still…I see you and the struggle you’re going through: having to watch the news every day as people debate if you are deserving of rights, dignity, if you deserve to use the bathroom, or get medicine, or are secretly a sexual predator who somehow thought this was the easiest way forward. To see countless ignorant souls who have never even met a trans person debate endlessly whether our rights are worth throwing away to move policy agendas ahead, if trans people can even really be trusted to know what we want. It is demoralizing, humiliating, exhausting, and often downright panic inducing. I’m fucking tired of not making this the loudest part of who I am, of trying to follow advice to “not be political” when it is my personal rights, dignity, health, and those of my friends, and the kids of my community on the line. 

This is an open invitation. Trans friends, queer friends, all of you out there- especially those of you stuck in closets. Please reach out if you ever are in need.  We’re too often separated from each other. Especially now. I want to talk to you, and will help in any way I can. And allies, people who genuinely want to know more about trans issues, gender identity, who don’t necessarily understand but want to have empathy, please reach out as well. We need as much help in this fight as possible. I by no means know the most, but I do have the bandwidth to educate in the ways I can, please take advantage of it.

I do have faith that it gets better, and that it will get better. But right now it’s probably going to get worse before then. The backlash is horrifically strong, and how bad it will get is going to depend on how loud we are.  I’m tired of tip-toeing around this topic, and I’m not going to shut up about it anytime soon. We deserve better.