Something people always say to me is ‘wow you’re so brave I could never do what you do’ or, ‘god you’re just SO brave’, and this statement never sits right with me. The notion of being brave has a circle. To be brave, you must be fighting someone or something. I understand their sentiment that living in a world that invalidates, persecutes, punishes trans people can be tough, and that it’s brave to constantly be yourself and fight the heteronormativity that is swung at us left right and centre, however I feel like this statement is coming to me at the wrong point in the circle. Surely isn’t it better to actively try and change the system we live in, by using pronouns, by changing the way in which you think, act or speak to trans and other LGBTQIA+ people? By actively changing the way in which you interact and speak about the world and the LGBTQIA+ people in it, you’re creating a safer environment. A more inclusive environment that negates that need for LGBTQIA+ people to be ‘brave’.
Bravery in its rawest form is, essentially, a social construct. What does it mean to be brave? How brave can you be? Who says whether or not you are brave? It’s society. There isn’t a barometer of bravery out there for you to be able to nestle up to and judge whether or not you’ve been as brave as you can be. Only you can judge whether or not you’ve been as brave as you can be, and whether or not what you’re going to accomplish in your life is going to need a lot of ‘bravery’.
What no one can dispute however, is the bravery that is held with our service people in the armed forces. Whether or not I personally agree with the armed forces and the way in which, in the western world, it is used as a barometer of social progress, does not negate the efforts that go with fighting for our country. However, my issue with the social role of the military is that even the notion that trans people are allowed in the army is seen in some countries as ‘progressive’. Trans people are often used as pawns in a ‘who’s the most liberal’ game, and I think using trans people to highlight how ‘woke’ a country is is a clear example of positive discrimination. Yes this might come with healthcare benefits, or more exposure for the trans community, but guaranteed health/legal rights doesn’t necessarily correlate with a better standard of life socially. 80% of trans people have self harmed in the UK, and over 45% of young trans people have attempted to take their own lives. That’s literally nearly 1/2 of all trans people. A staggering 7 trans women were killed in the first six weeks of 2017 in the US. Using our lives and our literal everyday aggressions as a tool to win favour in a PR stunt doesn’t necessarily mean that are lives are going to magically become amazing, and free of discrimination.
Trump isn’t worth my opinions. He isn’t worth my headspace or my thought processes, but here I am writing about trans issues, influenced by his tweets this week telling transgender people who are in the service, or who are aspiring to be in it, that they can’t serve. I think what a lot of people don’t think about when potential new legislation like this is brought up, is the social impact that this has on day – to – day lives on trans people who AREN’T in the military. The leader of the LITERAL free world has denoted trans peoples existence as being ‘too much’ and ‘distracting’, and because this was directed at trans military personnel, through the white cis gaze, this is JUST a target on trans people who serve in the military. But it trickles down. Reagan got his promise, but this time in a. social spin off as the infestation of transphobia that Trump has now broadcasted to the masses will make its way down to everyday interaction with trans people. It gives the right wing a platform to feel like their opinions are allowed to be elevated, even though they invalidate millions of people throughout, not only the US, but the world. Also, on a socially structural basis, what’s not to say that Trump now won’t deem trans health care being important. If these people aren’t allowed to serve in the military, and their transition, their legal identification and their entire existence is seen as being ‘distracting’, what’s not to say that trans people won’t be allowed to be teachers, be lawyers, be health care professionals? Where does the line end?
On a me – to – you – level, what’s hard is actually listening to the news, the media and the journalists that come onto these panel shows and spout transphobic, naive and just inaccurate information 24/7. The trans representation in the media is slim at best, so to see ciswhite women and men discuss trans equality is just degrading. Not letting trans people literally have a say about their OWN lives in the media is not acceptable, and perpetuates that idea that the cishet system that we are under has overall control of our lives. Listening to Trump and his administration leaves a lump in my throat, and a sickness inside of me, and even that I am annoyed at because I don’t even OWE him that. I don’t owe him my sadness. (And to think that some people think Trump and his administration are just ‘humorous’ still baffles me. People are literally being invalidated because of his presidency). Don’t let it bemuse you. Don’t let surface level ‘woke’ people tell you that it’s nothing to worry about and that ‘you’re not in the military and you’re not in America’, because that’s naive. Stay strong for your trans angels in the US, and not only those who are serving, but those who are living day to day having to deal with persecution, discrimination and transphobia on the streets. Obviously, if you need down time, time to recoup and apply 249829308 amounts of self care, then do just that, and then come back thriving. Show everyone that you’re trans, and you’re LIVING. YOU’RE HERE, YOU’RE TRANS, AND YOU’RE GOING NO WHERE.
To all my trans angels who are feeling scared, worried, shook and worried in the US, I am here with you. I Love you, you’re valid, and your life is an amazing journey. We support you, from all over the world, we are here with you and we want you to be strong. You’re going to face some shit, and drama from the world and the media and the press. But you got this. You didn’t get to where you are now without FIGHTING, and it’s shit that we have to fight, but it’s what we’re best at. So FIGHT angels. FIGHT THIS.
LOVE YOU SO MUCH,