I try not to write this blog in anger, but today I am.
Because I’ve been drowning in transphobia for days, and I’m gasping.
Because people don’t seem to understand the realities of what it is like to live day-to-day as a queer human in the United States or the United Kingdom. Even one in a position as remarkably well-privileged as my own.
But don’t take it from me.
Last week I was talking to a few queer friends about my last post – reflections on being queer in the South. How we fight every day to assume the good intentions of everyone around us, and not get drawn into believing stereotypes about people. But as one of the people in that conversation said:
…it’s not that we think everybody means us harm, it’s that I never know when one of them will just pull out a gun and shoot me.
We all nodded – because that fear is so ubiquitous that we don’t need to explain it – and I agreed, yes, it’s why it took me a long time to ride on the roads here: not knowing who’s just a bad driver and who considers it their duty to accelerate as soon as I’m committed to the crosswalk.
The next day a woman slammed into my friend and I with her car.
We were crossing the street – legally – in front of her, while she was stopped at an intersection. We were both dressed in a way that signaled that we were not straight. She saw us, her passenger saw us, and she pulled forward to make the turn while we were still in front of the bonnet. We yelled at her once we’d got out of the way but she ignored us and drove off.
We didn’t dare make a police report.
I came home, and I told my roommate what had happened, and I asked him “can you imagine not being able to call the police when someone runs into you with their car?” … and then I looked at him again and I said “wait, can you imagine being able to call the police when someone runs into you with their car?” And we laughed… and we laughed… and we cried… because what else can you really do about a world like that?
In this world, if people don’t like you, they’ll ignore you, and it’s very hard to determine who is exercising their legal right to hurt you, and who is just slow on the email.
It’s annoying when it’s a colleague.
It’s frustrating when it’s your doctor not giving you back your blood test results.
It’s despair-inducing when it’s the Title IX department, or the Bias Response team, when you try and reach out and ask “what do I DO about this kind of discrimination?”
Maybe they don’t know either.
They could at least tell me they’d heard.
In the last three days alone I’ve been called a liar, an abuser, a jerk, a manipulator, psychologically disturbed… in public forums, in front of my friends, who thought it best to let the “debate” about my existence continue, regardless of the cost I had to pay in order to participate. Regardless of the fact that I was the ONLY person in the conversation who might lose their job, their home, and their legal status in the country if I didn’t play nice – and who might lose it anyway if the others decide not to play nice with me.
Maybe I could have left, but then who would remain to decide how I ought to be treated then?
I ought to be treated like a human being, with a name, and a gender, and the right to live. I ought to be called my name and by my pronoun – and that should never, EVER be the subject of any debate ever again. I’ll happily tell you how to work on learning to use that pronoun. That’s fine.
I should be able to access legal support and medical care.
No one should feel they have the right to hit me with their car.
Why, please tell me,
Why is that too much?