I would have liked to write a post about gratitude for Thanksgiving. Or write one on any other topic other than this one. However, I cannot let the horror of what just happened at Club Q a few days ago.
On the eve of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, another trans person died. Along with other LGBTQ+ people who were just out enjoying a drag show. People went out looking for community and fun and ended up experiencing a tragedy that will forever affect their lives.
It happened for a few reasons. The first reason is the continued hatred and vitriol expressed toward members of the LGBTQ+ community. Mainstream politicians post about how the community grooms children. This serves to associate LGBTQ+ people with pedophilia. There are attacks on clinics and doctors that serve transgender minors to the point that some hospitals are coping with frequent bomb threats. This puts an already marginalized community under fire. The second reason is this country’s obsession with guns. The perpetrator will now be labeled as mentally ill to justify this horror. This will further, marginalize people with mental health diagnoses that already have a tough enough time because now they will be associated with violence. When the reality is most people with mental health issues are not violent. This perpetrator recently had a violent incident in the past that should have meant there was no access to guns. However, where the perpetrator lives these rules are not followed. Because apparently, the rights of a disturbed young white person are more important than the rights of the people that were killed and injured. Nothing to do with the fact that the perpetrator’s grandfather is a MAGA CA Assemblyman, who fortunately just got beaten in his most recent election.
As a therapist, I not only have to hold my own feelings about this incident but I have to hold the feelings of every client I work with who is affected by this. Oftentimes all I can do is sit with them and their pain. Because what else can I do? As a person or a therapist? I can continue to post and rant on this blog but I am uncertain if that helps anyone but me. I can continue to work for candidates for elected offices that prioritize marginalized communities. But it feels hopeless. The attacks on transgender people and the providers that work with them are getting worse. Nothing has changed regarding gun control.
It feels like I am part of a community that many are trying to erase. A close-by school district has now been sued by the ACLU-PA and is now being investigated by the Department of Education for creating and maintaining a hostile environment towards LGBTQ+ students. It started with book banning and now they are trying to erase anything LGBTQ+. No pride flags in the classroom. No discussion of any LGBTQ+ issues. No use of names or pronouns that a student uses if they don’t agree with the name and pronouns that were assigned at birth. It is a recipe for an increase in student suicides. It feels even more confusing because this is what the world was like in the 90s when I came out. You came out to safe friends and safe family and that was it. You weren’t out at your job or anywhere else because it wasn’t safe. Over the years things changed. It got safer in many places. When gay marriage was legalized by SCOTUS it felt much safer for many of us in certain places.
It all changed in 2016. The extreme right began their attacks on transgender people first and worst. Now it has circled back to other people in the community. It feels like they don’t want us to exist. If you are not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, then take a second to just take that in. What it feels like when your government and many people in the country do not want you to exist. They are banning books that talk about you. They are banning teachers from talking about anything related to your life. It feels pretty unsafe and awful. And then imagine you had a trauma history before this and imagine how it might feel then. Then imagine what it feels like with all of this going on and feeling alone or unsupported. Having a family that you are estranged from because they refuse to accept who you are. If you are a person of color you are being battered with racism along with homophobia and/or transphobia. It all can feel hopeless. So you find your community where you feel safe and spend time there. If you live in Colorado that now has been taken also.
All I can do is acknowledge the pain of the community. And share with those not in the community so that they can also support the community. For me, I will try to continue to focus on things I can do, which allows me to avoid getting stuck in a cycle of feeling powerless. We each must navigate this in the ways that work best for us.
I hope that everyone has a safe Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving.
The perpetrator’s lawyers claim that they are non-binary and as a result I refer to them here as the perpetrator and when I couldn’t avoid using a pronoun I used they/them pronouns. I understand that this could be true or could be a cynical ploy to get out of hate crime charges but I have always honored people’s pronouns and will do so here.