Lately as the proxy war over trans people continues, I am grieving the narrative of progress and safety that I had even as bathroom bills began in 2016.
It was around that time that I decided to get serious about helping my community and not just focus on my own safety as a trans man. I took steps to be more visible with cis people, believing that these connections make a difference for trans people with less privilege than me. I was energized because I thought we were at the height of transphobia.
I’ve been shocked how much worse things have gotten in the intervening years. Yes, we now have more representation in media and more services targeted at trans people. But with this visibility, cis people have abused their awareness of us. For example, we now have forms that explicitly invalidate trans genders by requesting “biological sex” or sex at birth to be written underneath your name.
More blatant transphobia has saturated the right and is also seeping into liberal spaces (hello, JK Rowling, Netflix, and the New York Times).
In my teens in the mid to late aughts I participated in panels of queer youth in a program run by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker peace organization that also does some important work in the ethical investing space. In those rooms I saw how people were moved to allyship by hearing about our queer lives. I concluded that if people knew us, they would want to make it possible for us to exist.
We are now more visible than ever before. My heart is broken to see the result is waves of legislation with the aim of forcible detransition, enforcing irreversible effects of puberty, imprisonment of supportive parents and orphaning trans kids, enforcing misgendering, and criminalizing trans people walking down the street or using the restroom in public. The legislative backdrop adds to continued murder, derision, and endless “debate”.
Queer history includes abandonment by family and government, persecution and slaughter. If there is any silver lining to muster, this history has placed community care at the center of our collective identity. I pray that we hold on to this goodness, and that we not let this world twist our hearts.
Over the next few months, I’ll be writing in this newsletter about reality-checking your economic privilege, self-preservation, and marriage as they relate to queer financial life.
For today I just want to say to my community that I love you and I’m with you, now and forever.
Thanks for being here.