LGBTQ Writers Voice Outrage and Fear Over Right-Wing War of Terror
Prism & Pen Weekly — March 12, 2023
by James Finn
Even if you aren’t a news junkie, you’ve likely sat up and gasped a few times in recent weeks as Republican attacks on LGBTQ people grow more angry and more plainly violent. Calls for the “eradication” of “transgenderism” have fired up Prism & Pen contributors from all stripes of the rainbow. In the meantime, Florida lawmakers are moving to make good on eradication rhetoric. Here’s what’s going on this week:
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— Editor’s Picks —
FL Seeks To Jail Trans Kids’ Parents, Authorize Out-of-State Kidnappings
Florida lawmakers move to seize transgender children and jail their supportive parents. They even authorize kidnapping children from custodial parents in other states. Is this fascism? Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.), the first member of Gen Z to serve in Congress, says it is. I agree with him.
Are you a parent? Do you think you have the right to make medical decisions for your children based on their best interests and the advice of your trusted doctors? Do you have a court order giving you custody or shared custody of your children? Do you believe that court order is legally binding?
Well, if you live in Florida, not so fast. Even if you don’t live in Florida, you’d better read this, because if one of your children is transgender, DeSantis and the Florida Republican Party are coming for you.
Surprisingly, This Is What a Trans Genocide Looks Like
This article is much longer than stories we usually publish in Prism & Pen, but recent extraordinary attacks on transgender people, extending last week to calls for the “eradication” of “transgenderism,” make Alex’s warning about genocide vital reading for anyone who loves LGBTQ people.
Trans people have never been entirely accepted in our society. However, our existence has become more visible in recent years, and with this, we have seen increased calls to end the “trans threat.” We are in the midst of a moral panic as a highly motivated portion of our society attempts to legislate trans people out of existence. And because such a thing is impossible, the methods they are resorting to are becoming more and more extreme.
Before rounding people into camps or dumping them into pits, there is the long, deliberate process where those who wish to do harm convince themselves that their path is righteous, and that the other side is ridiculous and undeserving of empathy.
Outsiders-Within: The Families We Lose
We queer people often speak fondly of our created families, understanding implicitly why we create them, but not always diving into why. Here, Prism & Pen newcomer Stevi explores the concept of “compulsory kinship,” a topic that should resonate with queer people and anyone born into a family with belief systems that negate their dignity and common humanity.
Have you ever justified a family member’s homophobia?
Ever told yourself: it’s getting better. It’s not as bad as it used to be.
Sociologists refer to this phenomenon as “compulsory kinship”. The term was born in the book: Families We Keep.
“Compulsory kinship” is enduring familial bonds that are unpleasant, toxic and harmful.
The problem is bigger than you think. A type of trauma bond. A type of Stockholm Syndrome. Compulsory kinship is wide-spread.
— Essays and Creative Nonfiction —
Iowa Republicans Attack Same-Sex Marriage and LGBTQ Rights
It shouldn’t exactly be a surprise that in a new wave of moral panic targeting the LGBT community, the US Christian right is now moving from targeting trans people to targeting gay people. Republicans in Iowa on the 28th of February proposed a ban on same-sex marriage, stating that marriage should be between a man and a woman only.
…it isn’t clear how the law would be enforced. But that evidently isn’t going to stop the Republicans from trying. So much for caring about the Constitution, I guess.
Another Trans Woman Is Attacked: I’m Afraid for My Brothers and Sisters
On Monday morning, February 26th, at 9:45 in the morning, a transgender woman was brutally attacked at a Minneapolis light rail station. Three people pushed her down the stairs and assaulted her while she lay on the ground. She suffered critical injuries. A graphic and brutal account is here at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The details are too horrific to recount.
There has been no outcry. There is no concern in the national media. I only heard about it because my sister lives in St. Paul. The New York Times, a paper obsessed over the ‘question’ of transgender identity as of late, took no notice. Not one line.
Right Wing Extremist Demands “Final Solution” for Transgenderism
In today’s America, hatred no longer hides under a white robe and hood. Hatred stands at a microphone, clean-shaven, in slicked-back hair, wearing a finely tailored suit.
Behold the slab of red-meat handsome, dapper, youthful Yale grad Michael Knowles, representing Ben Shapiro’s media slime pool Daily Wire, tossed out to the blood-thirsty CPAC crowd…
Violent Crime Surges in Red States as GOP Extremists Criminalize Drag
According to FBI crime data for 2020, Tennessee ranks #3 in the nation for violent crime and has the 6th highest murder rate. Also in the top ten for overall crime and gun death are Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina, and Mississippi.
Yet, the extremist GOP leaders of these states aren’t focused on crimes like robbery, burglary, assaults, shootings, etc. They are more worried about drag performers, drag shows, LGBTQ kids and teachers, and trans kids playing sports, or gender-affirming healthcare. (Let’s not forget criminalizing women and their doctors for reproductive healthcare, banning books, and teaching Black history.)
Michael Knowles Calls For Complete Eradication of “Transgenderism”
Another thing worth noting here is that in his CPAC speech, Knowles quoted an antisemitic speech from Heinrich Himmler and just swapped out “international Jewry” for “transgenderism”.
What was really interesting to me, though, were the claims being made by defenders of Knowles and his obvious genocidal rhetoric. Knowles’ defenders claimed he wasn’t saying trans people should be eradicated, only “transgenderism”.
Am I a Musician, a Muscle Car Enthusiast, or a Transgender Woman?
I had three different groups of friends growing up. I had a rock band that I was in. I had a group of car guys I would hang with, and I had my home life.
Three different identities that I made up to mask the fact that my true gender identity was female. Did it work?
Looking back, I don’t think I was fooling anybody.
The Question of Disclosure: Coming Out A Thousand Times
A friend of mine once described being transgender as coming out a thousand times. Now, keep in mind this person is not trans, but they are right. Especially as I go along in my transition, I constantly have to decide what to tell people about me, and what is safer to hold in. I am lucky to be in a part of the world where my life is not on the line, but others do not have it as easy. Especially in states such as Tennessee where it is now against the law for minors to take hormones, the question becomes even more dangerous.
We Are All Trans or We Are All Lost
Deep-seated historical prejudice is the root of transmisia, the hatred of trans people. Misia literally means hatred. It differs from phobia, which is fear. Fear has always been the excuse to deny the humanity of those different from us. Once people are convinced to deny another’s humanity, hatred follows.
Antisemitism and our own racist, slavocracy past are our most vivid examples of the way authoritarians have used fears to cultivate biases, drive hatred, and weaponize them to drive mob violence, strip freedoms, and legislate segregation to create lesser classes of people in society. The echoes of history are everywhere.
Once, when asked to speak about this, I said that womanhood begins and ends with self; anything outside of that frames it as concrete and an act to follow. There is and always has been something strange about being asked to define my womanhood by others who I am sure could not define their own. The idea that womanhood is and can only be one way for all women, not only strips away the concept of individuality but also forces the performative femininity that cis women only accuse non cis women of participating in.
A Gay Boy’s Final Portrait of His Mom
This is a tribute to my mom that I wrote after her passing. I shared it with the family several months later at a service celebrating her life. In part of the eulogy, I tried to be gentle but honest as I listed each family member in her life and their interactions.
For this publication, I added a little more about our relationship between her as mother and me as gay son. Our relationship was good for the most part, only strained by the time it took for her to come to understand and accept my homosexuality vs. “what others might think.”
FL Law Would Empower Christians To Sue Writers Over Homophobia Accusations
Alejandra Caraballo of the Harvard Law Clinic calls HB 991 “absolutely chilling,” and I can’t find better words to describe it. The proposed law, which Gov. DeSantis first suggested in a speech, would tweak Florida law to classify descriptions of homophobia, transphobia, or anti-LGBTQ discrimination as defamation per se.
The truthfulness of such descriptions would not be a defense, and writers anywhere who described a Floridian as homophobic or transphobic could be sued in Florida courts and face civil liability of at least $35,000.00 per incident.
Additionally, HB 991 gives religious believers special protection from this supposed defamation.
Hate Spans Generations: From Trump, to Putin, to George Wallace
Hate is one of the ugliest sides of humanity. Putin and Trump are just the latest versions.
We read about hate every day. It feels like that’s all we have. Thankfully, it’s not but that doesn’t make the pain that hate generates go away. It is particularly painful when you are the object of that hate and people use God and country to attack you.
This was taken from the inaugural Address of Governor George C. Wallace in January 14, 1963:
State-Sponsored Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination: Today’s GOP Playbook
Tennessee is in the news again for legislation denying the rights and humanity of LGBTQ citizens. The latest hate bill coming out of the state house is TN HB 878, giving any person the right to refuse to “solemnize” a marriage based on their religious beliefs.
Right-wing apologists are furiously spinning this as a purely religious freedom argument, which is unsurprising. What is infuriating is the ignorance of far too many people who buy the “freedom” bullshit with unserious comments like, “You can just find someone else to perform the service” or “It’s not fair to ask someone to marry people against their will.”
“Male Privilege Doesn’t Exist,” Said the Cisgender Heterosexual White Man
Recently, I reported an article. It had been on Medium for three months and was as harmful a post as I’ve ever seen on this platform. I wonder how much was the author’s opinion and how much was to invoke claps and comments for cash. I don’t care. I reported and blocked the author. Why? Because their article argued that male privilege doesn’t exist. And yes, I did read the article, because I am not someone who reads a title and makes assumptions about the content. Did I fall into their ‘trap’ and contribute to their funds?
My LGBTQ+ Journey from Shame to Pride
2003 was when the “gay devil” (as I referred to him at the time) made his first appearance inside my unprepared thirteen-year old mind. On a trip to Mexico that year, he sat perched on my shoulder while my family and I were out to lunch at an outdoor taqueria. The girl at the table next to us had tan skin, brown-blond hair, and wore sunglasses and a spaghetti-strap black tank top.
My “gay devil” noticed her, and made sure I did too. As the words, “She’s hot,” crash-landed from his taunting lips into my unsuspecting mind, I flinched — then turned around to make sure no one had heard.
— Memoir —
Slammed: a Memoir
What it does it feel like to be a working stage actor who hasn’t made the “big time” yet? John’s memoir started out showing us that world then took a painful tumble down a rabbit hole of meth and sex addiction. John tried to get clean once, but he ended up lying to his friends about his progress. Now, he’s back to a world of summer stock and dinner theatre, playing juicy roles that showcase his talents. And he’s taking care of his body. Things look pretty good, but is this really the end of John’s recovery road?
Even though we weren’t required to be fully memorized yet, I decided to give the scene a go off-book. My hand itched to be holding the script even though I’d drilled the lines all morning…
… With that, I made a hard pivot step, and marched out of the scene, nearly to the other side of the park.
I returned after the rest of the scene played out and we all shook off our characters and dropped back into ourselves.
The director walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder. Turning to everyone, he said, “John has just set the bar. Now I need you all to match it.”
Read: Fitness and Theatre Helped Me Recover From Meth/Sex Addiction
— Fiction Series —
To Keep Everybody Safe
When Daniel’s grandma gives him a top-secret purple tutu, turmoil at home and school confuses the 6-year-old and leads to pain he doesn’t understand. Will Mom and Grandma help change Dad’s heart? And what about Daniel’s classmates? Find out in the final two chapters of a 5-part story about a kid who just wants to be loved for who they are.
Grandma looks into Daniel’s eyes. “People are unique and special in so many different and fantastic ways. People are whoever they are.”
Grandma and Daniel start walking again. “Whoever you are and however you feel, Daniel, is wonderful. Because you are wonderful. Promise me you will always be who you are and feel how you feel.”
“I promise.” Daniel wiggles his fingers to show they aren’t crossed.
After snacks, Grandma asks, “What are you bringing for Show-N-Tell?”
Read chapter 4: Daniel’s Paper Dolls Use They/Them Pronouns
Read chapter 5: Daniel’s Classmates Love His They/Them Paper Dolls
The Life Of Alma: An Urban 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ Fiction Story
Alma and Jordan live in a gritty NYC transgender House world — a world that can deceive them into believing love is usually transactional and vulnerability is for the weak. In these final two chapters of A.T.’s novel sample, we see two young people struggle to define where they belong in a world that’s a lot less glamorous than they want it to be.
“I wish you were a good person.”
That hit close to the chest. Alma sat up, which was a surprise, and threw her fist against the side of the bed. Jordan sat up too and leaned over to feel the mattress, as if the punch had left a sore mark.
“Will you get over it already? You’re so fucking dramatic!”
Alma was exhausted but determined to voice her frustration. “I’m sorry we didn’t go to the stupid thing. I said that already. We should have gone to the stupid thing. We’re gonna go — I promised, didn’t I?”
Read part 2 of 3: Philadelphia, Fall 1992
Read part 3 of 3: Philadelphia, Fall 1992
That’s all for Prism & Pen this week. This is where I ususally say “Happy reading,” but somehow that doesn’t feel right given this week’s somber content. Still, I hope you fig in and find nourishment and maybe even awakening. Writers, please we need to get a new prompt out. Throw me some ideas in the comments section?
See y’all next Sunday!