Dear readers, if you’ve been following Tabooless for a while, you know I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to difficult topics. Without tooting my own horn too loud, I’ve covered topics that would make my parents cringe: sex after testosterone, sissification, and cannabis for sex just to name a few.
Sure, some of these topics are fun! I mean, who doesn’t want to talk about niche sex toys, right?
But for the most part, these topics are tricky to address and vital to discuss. No one should have to exist thinking they’re all alone in their experiences, and without community.
Having said that, I’ve been procrastinating on this particular article for quite some time now.
Big breath in. Hold it for four seconds. Deep breath out. Hold it for six seconds.
Phew, let’s face our fears together.
What’s The Deal?
To put it plainly: it is an agonizing time for trans people in the world, especially for those of us living in the United States. At this present moment, there are over 492 bills around transgender and gender non-conforming people, all around our right to exist and our access to essential services.
You can go to the ACLU’s website to monitor the status of the bills. At the time of publication, 26 bills have passed into law and more are on their way.
You’ve no doubt heard about these bills. Most of them are aimed towards “saving children” by dictating how these children should behave towards their own bodies. Laws like SB199 in Arkansas prohibit minors from accessing life-saving medical services in an attempt to “protect” them.
They aim to protect these children from one thing: growing up to be trans adults. Yes, there are more bathroom bills as well. Iowa has passed IA SF482, a bill prohibiting people from entering public bathrooms and changing rooms in elementary and secondary schools that do not correspond to that person’s “biological sex”.
Other bills have a wider reach. In Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Arkansas there is legislation attempting to ban gender-affirming care for anyone up to the age of 26.
Is it really a free country if people can’t freely decide to transition until they’re practically in their 30s? It’s important to remember that allowing trans children to access puberty blockers is vital in preventing unnecessary major surgeries later in life. If a trans boy never develops significant chest growth, then he doesn’t necessarily have to have top surgery later on.
I am blessed to live in a progressive city, where trans people are able to meet and discuss our experiences without fear of legal persecution. However, this doesn’t mean that we’re free from fear, though.
I fear for my friends in areas where things aren’t safe. I think about the young trans kids who have done the intense work of coming out to themselves and their families, trying to stop the incessant drum of their natal puberty, only to have all access to puberty blockers forbidden.
Like any left-leaning artsy-fartsy trans guy, I have a plethora of enamel pins I like to wear on my jacket. I caught ‘em all, from the cute to the audacious!
While buying it wasn’t difficult, wearing it turned out to be a surprisingly nerve-wracking decision. In the past, wearing pronoun pins has caused well-meaning cis people some confusion about my gender identity. They’ll see me, a queer man with stubble and a deep voice, and gender me correctly. However, when they see my trans pride flag, they’ll suddenly switch to using she/her assuming that I’m a trans person and all trans people are trans women.
This is a common experience, due in part to trans masculine people not being equally represented in the media’s portrayal of trans people. Seriously! Ask your trans-masc friends, folks. It happens pretty often!
It’s important to me that other trans people know we exist. Trans people are here, we’re thriving, and we’re living our lives running late to brunch, just like everyone else. We’re not going anywhere, because we are integral to the diverse ways humans can experience humanity.
One night, as I was walking home from the subway, a man started calling after me. He was clearly intoxicated, and I did everything I learned from my previous AFAB life experience to make myself feel safe: I turned off my music, put my keys between my fingers, and stayed alert.
As he was yelling slurs at me, I pulled my scarf closer around me and my fingers brushed my trans pride pin. Did he see it? Is that why he was harassing me?
I was walking faster, hoping that my long string-bean legs could speed-walk me away from danger. My mind was racing like a blue hedgehog in a hamster wheel. What would happen if he caught up with me? I thought of the anti-trans violence that my friends, especially my trans femme friends of color, had experienced.
My nerves got the best of me, and I started to tear up. Would anyone come to help me if I needed it?
Eventually, the man decided to give up his pursuit, and I got home safely despite agitation.
Was it worth it?
Safety in Numbers
Here’s a depressing fact: over the last year, I’ve experienced more harassment than before. It feels like people are bolder, more vicious, and feel more comfortable in their hatred. As an effeminate-looking man who often wears makeup, I get read incorrectly as a trans woman and thus become an easy target for violence. It is scary, and I’m not alone.
I’m not a hero, and still, existing visibly as a trans person is a brave action in today’s world. When people discuss how we need to be respectful to the flag, and the people who died for us to be free, we seldom ever include LGBTQIA2S+ flags into that mix.
Not to be divisive, but in today’s world what is more likely to get you attacked: wearing the flag of your country, or a trans pride flag?
There are real risks in being visibly trans in the world, and these laws are only making it easier for us to be targeted.
The legislation being passed all over the United States is promoted through fear and bigotry. They aim to make trans and queer people separate, in order for their “otherness” to be more easily dissolved and less of a threat to the standard way of living and all the systems of oppression that uphold it.
It brings trans people back into the dark ages, where transness was something only whispered in anonymous online forums or ridiculed and mocked by the masses. Transness is being pathologized, made to be a disease, and a public health crisis. We’re basically being treated like vermin to be eradicated, lest your children be seduced by the glitter and silicone packers.
Side note: it’s ironic how quickly conservatives pass laws banning gender nonconformity, and yet how slow they were to pass laws protecting people during the worst parts of the COVID pandemic or with gun violence in schools. Huh.
So, what do we do about it?
To my trans/nonbinary/gender-nonconforming readers, take care of yourselves. Make an effort to really be careful about the information you’re taking in, and be considerate of your mental health. Don’t spend 24/7 doom-scrolling! Go outside, touch the grass, and connect with the feeling that you are as natural a creature as the bird singing next to you.
If you can, find local trans groups and support each other. Put your drama aside, and check in with your trans family. We’re all going through this together, and unfortunately, this is going to be for the long haul.
To my cis readers and loving allies, please understand the gravity of the situation. This isn’t just the United States, it’s everywhere. While you might live in a progressive area, anti-trans laws can sneak up on us little by little. Write to your representatives, and make sure you voice your support for trans and queer people in this incredibly trying time.
Check in on your trans loved ones, ask them how they feel over a cup of herbal tea, and let them know you are there for them and every other trans person too. Make sure your actions match your words! If you have extra cash, send it to your local trans organization. If you have extra time, volunteer! Join protests, rallies, anything!
Trans people shake up the status quo. We remind society that life isn’t black and white, and sometimes the sheer volume of color can terrify people.
Stay safe, my dear readers. Stay careful, but most of all, stay truthful to who you are.
We have existed since the beginning of human history. We will always be here. We are the past, present and future, whether bigots like it or not.