What is Pride in 2022?

We’re here again folks; it is June. Pride Month. The month of the corporation logo change and fruit puns galore. And once again there are doubtlessly countless think pieces on what this 30-day period represents, from parades to rainbow capitalism to fringe in-fighting discourse. Forgive me my indulgence in contributing another analytical diatribe to the pile, for I am a 23-year-old trans female writer with too much free time and just the right amount of audacity ;) In all reality, it’s taken me a few years to understand the personal and sociopolitical importance of Pride. My goal in this piece is partly to solidify my own thoughts, but also to build a bridge of understanding between transgender Americans and our cisgender countrymen. To truly begin this interrogative journey together, we must travel a few years into the past.

A Long Time Ago…

The year is 2019, the month is January. I am a junior in college and am freshly single, finally, after a nearly three-year toxic relationship. What followed from that break-up was the resurfacing of dysphoria and behavior that I had repressed for years to fit in with my school peers and, eventually, to play the part of dutiful boyfriend. After a month of soul searching and private conversations with a few transgender friends, I come out as transgender to a few select close friends and coworkers. A few months later I begin the baby steps of social transitioning, wearing more feminine clothes and going by a new name.

This was a very awkward time. I was overweight, had a very masculine build, and was near completely bald. Yet I persisted in living and presenting how I wanted to be treated. Going to a fairly liberal college in a fairly liberal area, I could have chosen worse places to be openly trans. At the start of 2020, I came out publicly to all my friends, family, and acquaintances on social media. Thankfully, the vast majority took the news positively. That same year I began hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to transform my body to better match my internal view of myself and minimize dysphoria. This is where we catch up to the present day.

Back to the Future…

I have been on hormones for nearly one-and-a-half years this June of 2022. That is a great milestone—one I am proud of, in fact. And that is the point from which this article originates. 2022 is the year for many proud personal events of mine. It’s the year where I’ve experienced the most transformative effects of hormone therapy; my hair has grown back, I have lost weight, and my entire body’s shape has transformed to be more feminine and true to my inner self. It is easier now than it’s ever been for me to feel comfortable presenting and living as a woman.

At the same time, 2022 has seen US legislatures propose a record-breaking 300+ anti-transgender bills. They’ve started out smaller, with easier targets: limiting or outright banning transgender participation in sports, banning gender-affirming care for minors. They have grown in scale. Texas has deemed gender-affirming care for minors child abuse and directed their law enforcement agencies to treat it as such. Families are being torn apart. Florida is now floating a proposal to end Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming care for transgender adults, claiming that such care is “experimental.” Hormone therapy has a 50+ year track record. When adults do not have the bodily autonomy to pursue what best fulfils them and what best improves their physical and mental health, what can that be other than institutionalized oppression?

The rhetoric against transgender people has also escalated. It is currently a prominent Right-wing talking point that people like me are groomers. What is grooming? From Wikipedia, it is “the befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child’s inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse.” The process is horrible, morally heinous, and very specific. They use such strong language, and for what? Because I and other trans people are open about who we are? Open about who we love? Because I would tell a scared child that they are not broken for feeling like me? The misappropriation of the term is gross and dangerous. And the spill-over effect is now such that accusations are now being thrown around again at our lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, etc comrades in the queer community. half a century’s worth of bigoted talking points are being re-normalized, and I see too many people downplay the harm.

What is the Harm?

Hate against us is being fomented with this misinformation and propaganda by politicians who must distract their base from the fact that they can’t make their lives better, they can only make our lives (and the lives of other scapegoats) worse. A recent example out of many is the false claim spread about the Uvalde shooter being a transgender illegal immigrant. The lie began in online far-right forums and has since been repeated by government officials such as AZ representative Paul Gosar and GA representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. At least one underage trans girl in Texas was assaulted by men in response to this rumor. It is increasingly dangerous for transgender people to merely go about our days in this climate. The growing harm is also a contributing reason why Pride Month and queer visibility all year round are more vital than ever.

What it All Comes Down to

So, I feel my cisgender readers asking, “Why is Pride important? What is Pride in 2022?” Thank you, I’m glad you’ve asked. Having experienced all that I have of my trans repression, then feelings of inadequacy to pass as a woman, to feeling content in myself now…Pride is radical, politically subversive self-love and community solidarity. Celebrating Pride is important despite all of the hatred, the pain, the insecurity, the crippling fear that one day I won’t be able to access the care I need to feel alive and happy in my body…because it’s worth it to be visible. The story of an early-twenties balding, hairy neckbeard thriving as a pink-haired girl with pronouns is miraculous. It is a story worth being told, to the kids who, absent Pride, would only hear that they are broken and would be better off dead or traumatized in conversion therapy.

I express Pride for the little girl I used to be who didn’t know why she felt different. I celebrate Pride in honor of the Black trans women who fought for the fundamental rights of all queer Americans decades ago. I respect Pride by remembering the queer lives that were cut short by bigots or by suicide. I build Pride with queer people both local and abroad, to foster community. I am loud with my Pride because I want these politicians, these ghouls that peddle hatred, that have blood on their hands, to know that the only way they’ll get me to be quiet is if I’m dead. That is what Pride means to me in 2022.

Lastly, a Call to Action

If you are a cisgender reader, I hope this gives you some insight into what I’d wager a lot of transgender people feel like right now living in the United States. Please be kind, please uplift trans people whether they be friends, family, or otherwise. Please be loud and unignorable in expressing that how we are being treated is not okay. We need your help to battle this wave of hatred and oppression. Thank you for reading.

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