Last blog post I wrote I got an amazing response. It feels like more people read that post than every other prior post combined! It made me feel good to read all of the comments. It made me feel even better when a friend told me that they learned from it. I don’t often get that personal in a blog post but the posts in which I do get personal obviously resonate a lot more. So I decided to stay with the topic of moving through the world as a GNC person and how that feels right now in our country that feels so dangerous.
Last week I saw a post about an Alabama Mayor who called for killing LGBT people on their Facebook page. In response to a friend talking about a revolution against LGBT people, he said” “The only way to change it would be to kill the problem out. I know it’s bad to say but without killing them out there’s no way to fix it.” When called out on it he first denied, then blamed Facebook, then “apologized” in a manner that said he really just regretted it being shared publicly.
Since gay marriage, it has been less common to hear people publicly call for gay people to be killed. There is a long history of LGBT people of being assaulted and murdered. For LGB people it has improved but for trans people, especially trans women of color, it is still dangerous to be alive. When the AIDS crisis hit it became very clear that many people in this country had no concern at all about gay people dying. They thought it was deserved. Obviously, some people still believe that but it had become pretty unacceptable to say so. Now those filters are gone. And now it is also acceptable to blame black people for getting shot by police and brown immigrants for being assaulted when all they are trying to do is escape death in their own countries.
So within this context, I am flying back East tonight to visit with family. Part of the trip will be an additional bus trip to Niagra Falls. All of which I expect to be fun. At the same time when I was packing my baseball hat for sun protection, I made sure to dig out a pink hat because I thought it might be more easily read as female. Because that is this world pink is feminine and blue is masculine. Sigh. I was also reminded by a friend that I might be with Trump supporters. This really threw me for a loop. I have a few family members that I know voted for him and that I also consider anti-gay. They are not family that I can totally be estranged from. At the same time, the distance between us has grown greater since the 2016 election. We never talk about politics but I know that they think I am going to hell. It does create a distance. I don’t feel unsafe with them just uncomfortable. I do, however, feel unsafe in general with Trump supporters.
I feel like if you support a man who is so blatantly racist, anti-semitic, misogynist, xenophobic, and anti-LGBT that I am not safe with you period. It doesn’t mean I feel like every Trump supporter may physically assault me but I do feel emotionally unsafe with them. And quite frankly depending on their presentation I also feel physically unsafe. A young white man with a MAGA hat would cause me to do anything I could to avoid them. I live in the progressive bay area and I feel pretty safe here. It has been a long time since I have been harassed for my appearance or sexuality. But it has happened in the past even here. I had FAG scratched into my car in San Francisco. When I was leafletting against Prop 8 at the Bart stations in 2008 I was stared at and was obviously being talked about negatively by some. But in recent years since gay marriage was legalized, it has felt a lot better. However, when I leave here it is different. I can never see myself traveling to the midwest or the south. This trip I am going into an unknown environment and I know I will have an air of hypervigilance throughout my travels. I will use the bathrooms quickly. I will scan for signs of danger such as the MAGA hats (and thank you for white supremacists for picking such an obvious sign for us to see). I won’t be expressing my feelings on political topics unless I know I am safe which probably means not at all.
I am still a person with a lot of privilege. I am white. Recently more than one brown person I know has talked about how it is harder for them to leave the house right now. One person named all the documents that they carry with them all of the time (and have done this for years) to prove they are a legal citizen. These are people that feel physically unsafe all of the time. I have also heard this a lot from my Jewish friends. More than one has spoken about their fears of being rounded up. It used to be that you could say that wouldn’t happen but now? Our president has made anti-semitic statements for two days straight.
I think what the thing is is that most of us don’t necessarily recognize the stress that each person that feels scared right now is carrying. I know mine and I can feel the pain of my friends but I can never know what it feels like to have to carry all my papers with me because otherwise I could be rounded up and sent to a camp with no legal representation. As a trauma therapist, I do know how much affect carrying these burdens can have on a person. It is hard to process a trauma that is currently happening. I know all I can do for myself is to allow myself to keep myself safe in the ways that I can. For my friends, I can try and protect them and listen to them. I also can continue to try and advocate for those that need help. I have been very active in a fundraiser to raise money for legal services for unaccompanied minors in the bay area. It helps me to be doing something. I also want those who can walk around without worrying about being round up, jailed, or beaten to recognize that they have some immense privilege that many do not have. I think it is easy for us to stay huddled in our own world and not recognize the suffering others are experiencing. I think it behooves us all to try and have a new awareness and to fight so that everyone can feel safe.