The Big Picture
Perhaps the feature of human existence that most humans most fail to appreciate is complexity. It is so very easy to fall into the trap of the most simple narrative, no matter what subject you are considering. For an off-topic example, let me refer to my favorite baseball team for a moment. If you’re not familiar with the game, the current custom is to have one very good relief pitcher (the “closer”)that tends to come into games in the ninth if they are close. Friday night my team’s closer, who was not known to have any health issues, was not dressed to go into the game and wasn’t available for his usual duty.After the game the manager, when pressed, said “he wasn’t feeling good and that’s all you need to know.”
As this was happening, fans of the team were lighting up twitter with assumptions based on nothing – maybe he broke team rule and was benched…maybe he was hungover…and such like. Turns out, the young man (just 22) had been struggling, off the field, with some mild anxiety attacks and was a bit overwhelmed by the new experience. The point of me relating this story is that the easy explanation, so wrong, was so inviting to a great many.
Over my years writing in this space, I have – fully self aware about it – evolved the content away from the purpose for which the site was founded (primarily a resource for crossdressers) into a site more focused on those who have or intend to transition and the serious business of getting on in this world in the face of stigma and attack. Their are certainly others that do it better, more diligently, or with a sharper focus, but It’s not my strong suit to discuss “light” topics in this current moment.
Over that time I’ve tried to expand upon a few larger themes that I’ve come back to more than once – how we communicate our reality, how even within our “community” we sometimes become our own enemies, and most of all, the conflict between being trans and the traditionalist religious worldview voiced by so many. I confess though, that each time I address that subject I am not telling, or getting close to telling, the whole story. Indeed, despite having lived for decades inside that belief system, and for a decade outside of it now, I’m still learning things I never knew about how the American culture came to be this way, including the toxic effects of racism and the overlooked influence of big money interests who used the marriage of faith and patriotism to create a political force to further their own goals. There’s more, still, to this backstory, than even that.
We, as trans people, look at the political situation in North Carolina, or Mississippi, or Texas and we see the simple, easy, obvious explanation – they are just hateful folks. But there’s a big complex chain of events that served as the seedbed for those attitudes to grow and flourish. Likewise, we look at our current political situation, particularly since November, and we want easy straightforward explanations with direct solutions. I regret to inform you that it is far far more complex tan you likely realize, and reversing the course may not even be possible but if it is that begins with a much more informed understanding of what the problem actually is and how it came to be. The Dominionist political forces I have often spoken of do not exist in isolation, nor in opposition to other powerful political forces from the right. Thousands of words can be – and have been – written on these things.
But for all that, we must be discerning. It is so very easy to “sleep” and tune out big political questions as beyond our power, yet it is also easy to believe in ridiculous conspiracy theories and the danger those realities create is that for the one tempted to tune-out, everything complex smells like a conspiracy theory. So we fall in the trap of being too cynical, too skeptical, too unaware because of it. Here’s the stark reality, however uncomfortable: we, as targets, are – all this sturm und drang is not really about us, we’re tiny pawns on a pretty huge chess board and that makes it all the more difficult to resist what they would do to us. But yet we must. But we must do so with a clear-eyed vision of what we’re up against. Even if all we can do is make ourselves a more troublesome pawn than we are worth so that they move their attention elsewhere.
Photo by: J Brew