Not by Accident
This is a post that I’d planned to take in a different direction, but the original instinct to break up the pattern ended up striking me as exactly the wrong thing to do. The vote In Houston 10 days ago, while not unexpected, still leaves a very bitter taste and there is a certain necessity to consider the reality that there’s an ongoing and dramatic connection between the results of that vote and the reason that so many of us and our friends, family, and allies will gather with candles next week.
November is designated as Transgender Awareness Month and if there’s anything we can be assured of, it’s that the culture is more aware of us now than they have ever been – though sadly that’s all too often in a negative, and mis-informed context. The month, the election, the lives we’ve lost (not only those lost to violence but those lost to self harm) and the environment which contributed to those deaths are all of one piece.
What we saw in Houston was the cultural tradition of thought related to transgender people distilled to its most essential, elemental quality. For all the pretense and disguise put forward by those who’d deny any charge of hatred, when the mask comes off the naked reality was every bit as ugly as you’d expected it to be. It is the grotesque face that every trans person killed or assaulted specifically for being trans has already seen, the one that those denied the love of their family, the companionship of supposed friends, the opportunity to have a career and even a home are quite familiar with. But it’s the face that too much of America still hasn’t gotten a clear view of yet.
My time as a person who is accepting of themselves, and therefore others, is relatively brief in the context of the long pursuit of equality.More recently that I’d like to admit, under the sway of what I can only call self-loathing and indoctrination, it was my face behind that mask of civility and faith. I was as much a puppet of the likes of Tony Perkins as any of those pastors who rallied the voters with lies and I’m shamed by that, but I also learn from it just how easy it is to be seduced by their rhetoric if your socialization has conditioned you to be trusting and receptive. My relative “youth” when it comes to this cause also helps me to recognize that those who’s journey has gone on for decades have seen, in most cases, much much more of the ugliness than us newbies have. The remember the days when no one felt the need to disguise their contempt and disgust for trans people. If you want to know what that was like, read the comments thread on a site like, for example, Brietbart or WND and you can get the tiniest sample of that.
Then remember, those folks vote. They also make employment and housing decisions. They are someone’s dad, or sister, or grandmother, or neighbor, or co-worker – someone who’s trans may have to deal with that hateful person in the midst of their very life and somehow find a way to rise above it. Those people are the heartbeat of the cultural bigotry that still infests our culture, dominates it in large areas of the country. Oh sure they take their marching orders from Pharisees like Perkins and Dobson and Wildmon and Graham and Brown, but the nasty intersection of willful ignorance and a callous heart lies within them. They are the agents of hatred on the street and around the proverbial water-cooler and yes, in the pulpits far too often. But that’s not the end of the problem, indeed, it’s just the prologue.
The real problem is that for ever, those people have been allowed to control the conversation, to set the terms of debate, to drive the public sentiment with nor organized weight thrown against them to push back. We saw it manifest in Houston as HRC and the ACLU and other members of their coalition handled the trns-specific lies as if they were radio-active, unwilling to wrest control of the terms of debate from the haters. We still don’t have a clear, distinct, consistent and weighty collective voice in the conversation. And because this is true, we do not control the conversation not just on the macro level where campaigns are waged, but on the day to day “micro” level where those same people subtly evangelize the poorly informed public one person at a time towards their point of view.
Sometimes this simply manifest as a clutch of female co-workers in the office that demands management put a stop to the trans-woman’s access to their ladies room. Sometimes it manifests as the trans man who’s denied a job because he won’t wear a dress per the dress code. Sometimes it’s the trans teen driven from her home by “Godly” parents who refuse to compromise their rigid beliefs, only to find street prostitution the only means to live, and drugs the only means to bleach their mind of what that choice did to their soul.
Sometimes it’s the trans person who has to walk away from their lifelong church home because their denomination votes overwhelmingly to deny their legitimacy. Sometimes it’s the trans parent driven to despair and death because they’ve been evicted from the lives of their beloved children. Sometimes – sometimes – it’s the trans person beaten to death in their own home by a man who’d believed that having found a trans woman attractive made him gay, and who’d never been told any different.
These people, whether dead by violence from without, or within, we remember – and for these people we need to push back with a passion against the lies. If it is Trans Awareness Month, let’s make our culture aware they’ve been lied to.
[Image by self, based on widely available promotional images]