Ellen, W., & the Politics of the Heart

Are You Free? Are You Allowed to Decide?

It’s the viral divider-of-the-week: Ellen sitting by George W. Bush in a suite at the Packers-Cowboys game. Is she connecting with another human being regardless of political differences? Or does she glibly look past W’s warmongering against LGBTQIA+ folks and Iraqis alike?

Getting to do what they want.

Take 1: The Warm

I’ll admit it—when I first saw Ellen’s viral plea for kindness, my heart warmed for two reasons:

  1. Ellen, the lone Packers’ fan and proud lesbian among the bros, braved a suite of patriarchal conservative Richie Riches.
  2. She doesn’t let her and W’s differences impede their friendship.

Ellen calls for human decency in a polarized cultural climate. And, dammit! W. as former-President is goofily funny, cracking jokes with Michelle Obama, launching his cottage art career, and generally being the Alfred E. Neuman he is. Who wouldn’t warm up to that, given that the current Oval Orifice occupant is Hitler with a side of Black Plague? And it’s Ellen doing this! She’s funny (not in the semi-accidental way W. is) and speaks her mind.

What’s not to love?

Take 2: The Fuzzy

There’s a helluva lot not to love:

  • While Ellen’s presence in that suite shows that one LGBTQIA+ person has arrived, it smacks of the ending of Orwell’s Animal Farm, in which the pigs look like and make deals with the humans they overthrew. The Richie Riches looked past Ellen’s presence because her celebrity lent them chicness.
  • Ellen herself may not subscribe to their pig-heartedness, but she was THERE. Her fame is in huge part because she’s an icon of the LGBTQIA+ community. Sitting with W. shows little regard for the responsibility that comes with her celebrity.
  • W. can crack dad-jokes and paint because “Look! A goofy former President who paints and who hobnobs with Ellen! Those dead U.S. service personnel and Iraqis, plus ongoing bigotry and violence against LGBTQIA+ persons? All is forgiven!”

The Richie-Riches’ suite insulates both W. and Ellen. Nothing in the law prohibits them from doing these things they want, while the growing number of murdered and mutilated trans women of color do NOT get to SIMPLY BE THEMSELVES.

Free to Be Themselves?

But shouldn’t W. and Ellen get to be themselves? “George is a human being, too!” “Ellen’s allowed to have her choice of buddies.”

I get it: Free of the burdens of the presidency, W. can be our weird Uncle Bob who collects souvenir spoons in the basement. He has the right to express himself as an artist and as comic-relief at high-profile events.

I also get it: Ellen has iconic status because she stepped beyond mere entertainment and put her sexual identity on the line. The same chutzpah it took to say “I’m gay” in prime-time 18 years before the legalization of same-sex marriage fuels her authenticity in publicly befriending W.

Some Transformations Are More Equal Than Others

BUT … George W. Bush is not an Alfred E. Neuman struggling to shed the chrysalis of the presidency. He ran for president because he was free to (and had tons of privilege and connections to money). If he is a goofball painter today, it’s because HE’S FREE TO TRANSFORM HIMSELF THAT WAY.

AND … Ellen is not a struggling Packers’ fan risking her livelihood, relationship, and family connections to be in a five-figure suite with Goofball W. Yet, SHE’S FREE TO TRANSFORM HER IMAGE IN THAT WAY.

The Richie-Riches’ suite insulates both W. and Ellen. Nothing in the law prohibits them from doing these things they want, while the growing number of murdered and mutilated trans women of color do NOT get to SIMPLY BE THEMSELVES.

The Fault In These Stars (and SCOTUS)

George W. Bush wanted war and wanted a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to heterosexual couples. Ellen wanted to announce her lesbian identity. Their doing what they wanted, then and now, blithely ignores what weighed down LGBTQIA+ folks this Tuesday, October 8, 2019—the freedom to be ourselves without fear of prejudice, homelessness, unemployment, even death.

That day, the freedom to be LGBTQIA+ was debated by nine other privileged persons who get to do what they want in a suite not unlike the one at the Cowboys-Packers game.

The Light In MY Stars

Being trans in a gender-binary world is a heroic statement of personal liberty: I am free to be my authentic self.

the freedom to be LGBTQIA+ was debated by nine other privileged persons who get to do what they want in a suite not unlike the one at the Cowboys-Packers game

Regardless of the SCOTUS decision on the October 8th case of trans woman Aimee Stephens, I as a trans woman will continue to be trans despite the obstacles, hatred, public and familial vilification, limiting of medical access, discrimination, and sacrifice I must endure. I AM STILL ME AND WILL ALWAYS BE ME, REGARDLESS OF ANY COURT RULING.

But some people get to be more equal than others … And it’s their loss.

Ellen and W. get to be kind to each other. I haven’t stopped being kind, nor do I broadcast videos explaining my kindness. Every moment of every day I look-in-the-eye those who stare knives at me, I hear pulpiteers and politicos abhor my existence, and I must justify my presence to every person across every service counter, job interview, and registration desk I come to.

BUT … I get to rejoice at my reflection in shop windows. I feel the freedom of walking down the street as the person I truly am.

AND … It’s not a matter of getting to do what I want but of being who I am.

… some people get to be more equal than others … And it’s their loss.

I hope that W., Ellen, and the SCOTUS nine have rejoiced in their shop-window reflection. Whether they have or haven’t, they’ve no power over me. I’m free.

Are you?

Just me being kind to a pumpkin head. Not in a suite.

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The Transition Transmission

The place to embrace the Triumphs and Tribulations of those who Transitioned and risked everything to live authentically.

Bethany Beeler (the Beautiful Buddha)

Written by

Novelist. Painter. <http://bit.ly/bethanybeeler> Trans activist. Badass Warrior Bitch.

The Transition Transmission

The place to embrace the Triumphs and Tribulations of those who Transitioned and risked everything to live authentically.

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