Distressed but not Defeated
This entry may end up being, essentially, a sort of housekeeping. I’m trying to clear away the fog and cobwebs that have created a gloomy environment in my mind since the election and direct my thoughts to other subjects that ought to be addressed. Year after year, the holiday season is a rough one for many trans people and hopefully in the coming weeks I can direct my attention to saying something uplifting and encouraging.
But at the moment, I don’t feel encouraged. I feel like I’ve stepped into quicksand. I look at the election results over and over and try to see the hopefulness in the popular vote margain, and the narrowness of Trump’s win in the key states that gave him the edge. But I can’t help but worry whether this is an aberration, or a key reversal of trends. Factually, I think it’s the former but then, I thought he could never win so perhaps my logic is uncertain in this matter.
Regardless of wishcasting on the 2020 election, what we face now is four years of an administration that has made a very high priority of stripping trans people of the gains we made under the Obama administration, often by dint of executive orders which even the most passionate Democratic opposition will not be able to affect. Moreover he has the opportunity to entrench those views in the court system unless the Democrats are going to go all out in obstructing judicial appointments.
The implication for us as “ordinary citizens” are, at least, two fold.
First, if you are not well situated to be directly activist (for example, I live over 200 miles from my state capital) for whatever reason, their are things you can do. Phone calls, particularly to your representative or senator’s local/home office, have been described as a much much more effective way to get their attention than e-mail. Also, actual physical “snail mail” letters carry considerable weight. Make an impression on them that their constituents passionately support equality. I assure you, the Pharisees have zealous followers who’ll be voicing the opposite view. In the same vein, pay attention to more immediate races like mayor, city council, board of education. Often the races which most directly impact us – you – are not on the national level. If you sleep on this, an adverse decision may be arrived at before you even realize it was being discussed.
The second implication, perhaps counter-intuitive, is one I’ve been on about virtually since I began writing in this space – BE VISIBLE. The single greatest thing that will improve our standing in the culture doesn’t come from Washington or from politicians but from ourselves. The point has been belabored before but I will repeat it. It was a mere 12 years ago that anti-gay political forces were riding high, passing laws to ban same sex marriage in over 30 states. But the political headwinds were already moving in the opposite direction as nationwide surveys demonstrated that more and more people said they approved of the legality of those unions. There’s a direct and powerful relationship between that shift and the increase in people who reported that they knew someone who was gay or lesbian. People find it harder to oppress people they know and like (not all, particularly in the age of Trump, but enough to change the culture) but they are much less likely to support laws and policy in our favor if they don’t know anyone who is trans.
Is it hard? Oh HECK yeah! Does it put you at risk of loss? I cannot deny that it does. You know full well many of us have suffered loss to get to this point. But I look at it as one might a (just) war. In order for the bad in humanity to be defeated, some will suffer loss in the battle, but if the battle is not fought, then there can be no hope of victory and we all suffer loss. I’m not scolding, but I am encouraging.
Photo by: Zaskoda