For God’s Sake, Trans Lives Matter

For God’s Sake, Trans Lives Matter

Here’s Amna Nawaz of the PBS NewsHour: “The most recent killing took place last Sunday in north Philadelphia. Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington, 40 years old and a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ community, was shot several times. Her death came one day after Muhlaysia Booker was found dead in Dallas. Booker was just 23, and just weeks before her death, she was attacked in a mob-like beating after a minor traffic accident. One week before those murders, 21-year-old Claire Legato was shot in the head in Cleveland. She was killed after an argument between her mother and the suspected shooter. Earlier this year, two more black transgender women, Ashanti Carmon and Dana Martin, were also killed. Last year, more than two dozen transgender people were killed. And according to a 2018 Human Rights Campaign report, there were at least 128 trans people killed in 32 states since 2013; 80 percent of them were people of color.”

As the LGBTQ communities celebrate Pride Month, we must all be hyperaware that the people represented by one of the letters in the Great Amalgam are literally fighting for their lives. The Ls, Gs, Bs, and Qs Are doing pretty well, all things considered. We’re not merely finding tolerance, a word I’ve grown to hate. People tolerate snotty, screaming brats running around restaurants or preposterously ugly dogs ruining the aesthetic splendor of Central Park. I want a lot more than tolerance. We’re finding acceptance and celebration. Sure, there’s a lot left to fight for. Until every lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer person on the planet has the same right to freedom from oppression — I’m looking at you, Chechnya, and you, too Brunei — none of us will be free.

But the Ts, with whom we share Pride Month, are still facing murderous persecution on a daily basis right here in the so-called Land of the Free. It takes tremendous bravery — bravery that I, for one, don’t have — to entertain even the idea that one’s own body doesn’t reflect the identity hidden beneath it, let alone the courage to transform it on any level, from manner of dress to, in many cases, surgical intervention. Amna Nawaz’s terrifying list at the beginning of this column testifies to the hostility — and the heroism, too —trans folks face and demonstrate every day of their lives, lives that are all too often cut short by transphobic violence.

Nawaz is interviewing Beverly Tillery of the New York City Anti-Violence Project: “Beverly, it’s worth noting we are speaking on the same day the Trump administration has rolled back some healthcare protections for trans people. Earlier this week, there was another rule they put in place allowing federal shelters receiving funds to turn away trans people serving — seeking services there. There’s also the efforts to push a transgender military ban here. What effect have all of these even just proposals had on the trans community?”

Tillery’s response: “I mean, talk about a complete slap in the face. You know, the timing is really important to note here because, on the heels of these homicides, where the community is already reeling, for the administration to, one after the other, release these proposed guidelines and rules this week, it’s clear that they do not care about the trans and gender-nonconforming community.”

Uhhhh, Beverly? Could I speak with you privately for just a sec? You say that “it’s clear that they do not care about the trans and gender-nonconforming community.” I think that’s a little mild, Beverly. In fact, I think it’s a gross, outrageous, and cowardly understatement. The administration obviously cares very much about the trans community. The words hatred and contempt come to mind. And “slap in the face?” It’s more like a knife in the heart. Let’s not put namby-pamby tact before honest and deserved rage.

It’s not that the Rump Administration doesn’t care. The fact is, the administration hates the trans community. Its actions evince a total lack of respect for human life. We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the rights of fetuses. Would that such rights extended as far as those of us who breathe. It’s the nature of the world we live in that a six-week-old fetus means more to Rump, Pence, and their hypocritical base than adult humans, complex beings with fully-formed brains who feel the pain of rejection and social hostility — not to mention the bullets of the mob — because their genitalia doesn’t conform to their unquestionable gender identity. God, how I wish that on one of his snatch snatching escapades Rump had found a dick where he expected a vagina to be.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s the problem. Consider this the latest unsourced rumor: Back in Rump’s pussy-grabbing days, before the religious right chose to overlook his little peccadilloes, he pulled one of his boorish sexual assaults on a pre-op trans woman and has been traumatized ever since. Oh, to have been the proverbial fly on the wall for that one.

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