Your Complacency Will Kill Trans People
The story I had feared the entire Trump administration finally graced the screen of my phone on what at first felt like just another sleepy Sunday morning. A notification from Apple News: “Trump Administration Eyes Defining Transgender Out of Existence.” My heart immediately sank. We must take immediate and strong action against this, or many transgender people will die — something I cannot stress enough is not an exaggeration.
For almost two years, I have felt gaslit by people who have insisted that I have nothing to fear under Trump — even by members of my own community, such as Caitlyn Jenner. I faced an onslaught of harassment — which I wrote about almost a year ago in the New York Times — for defending the need for transgender people to have guns given this tumultuous climate and how much violence we experience. Earlier this year, I was the target of YouTubers with millions of subscribers for expressing concern at the transphobia in a joke one made on Twitter.
Were those resisting Trump resolute in their support for us, I would feel more at ease, but prominent progressive voices like Michael Pollan — who have put out a lot of work I have enjoyed and appreciated — are saying publicly, “Don’t take the bait.” We are just pawns in their game of chess they are happy to let be sacrificed without second thought.
Martin Niemöller’s famous poem, “First they came…” has long stood as a potent warning against the consequences of sitting idly by as groups more marginalized than you are attacked by those in power. Though the poem does not mention transgender people, we were among those targeted. Trans people were beginning to gain acceptance in Germany in the early twentieth century, and Berlin’s Institut für Sexualwissenschaft was considered the foremost academic research institute studying transgender people.
We don’t have any of their research anymore — because Hitler burned it during his purge of LGBT+ people in 1933. Though many people are insistent that our current reality in no way resembles Nazi Germany, it is important to recognize The Holocaust started eight years later in 1941. The fact that this isn’t happening overnight but rather a little here, a little there — each time pushing the boundaries a little further — is exactly the reason why so many, trans or not, are concerned about the patterns we have witnessed in the Trump administration.
When we are just dismissed by liberals and progressives as “bait” whose plight should be ignored in the hope it will help win elections, they are signing us up to die — what you are essentially saying is that us in a cage, metaphorical or not, is just a trap for you, without any regard of us being inside of it. In recent months, many trans people have reported problems suddenly getting passports issued with the correct gender — even those who had ones with them before. This comes on the heels of the balance of power in the Supreme Court being fundamentally altered as well in a way that makes it easier for Trump to get away with such actions without meaningful challenge.
When I was younger, I had the incredible fortune of going to a prep school with the help of a scholarship — which I would not otherwise be able to afford. I’m thankful for not just the education it gave me but the friends I made and the doors I opened. Despite being, by any measure, a nerd or a geek, I felt like most treated me well — with the exception of the sort of people whose early biography is reminiscent of Kavanaugh’s.
People told me high school drama wouldn’t matter in a few years, and, for a time, it felt like they were right — but it feels like I’m reliving it all over again. Much to my horror, Bob Corker, whose daughter was in my class and talked about by that crowd as being as “fair game” because of rumors about her sexual proclivity, voted for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Now I am forced to wonder if I will ever escape that high school drama — let alone live to see old age in a world where people like me are already far more likely to be targets of violence. We are witnessing it escalate every single day, but it simply becomes the new normal, as we are boiled slowly like frogs. Though I got a lot of criticism from otherwise supportive people for reiterating my strong belief in the importance of my possession of firearms as a trans person a year ago, as much as I wish the events that had transpired in the interim gave me hope I was wrong — they have done the exact opposite.
I implore everyone who recognizes Trump as the threat that he is to stand up for us and to stand with us. The only thing that transgender people want is to be able to live happily, which we simply cannot as the wrong gender. As someone who has lived full-time as a woman five years, I have felt a level of peace and comfort on a level I literally never thought possible — but Trump doesn’t care. And, quite worryingly, it seems like a lot of people who should be our allies do not either.