I got interviewed for this article which focuses primarily on Sarah McBridge but also on the history and reasons so many trans people are running for office. I think the most important point I made was this one:
“The election of President Donald Trump in 2016 has spurred trans people to consider elected office instead of just local community organizing and advocacy, according to Helen Boyd Kramer, an author and instructor of gender studies at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. She said trans people understand the unnecessary politicization of bodies, choice, and medical care “in deep ways.””
I’m not managing to write very much – same thoughts over & over, to be honest, most days – but a kind gesture by a friend causes me to write this piece. Here’s an excerpt (and a new photo taken by my very talented wife).
There are moments in this pandemic when the enormity of it all hits you for a second. It’s usually, for me, a banal moment when I’m telling my cat she has already had dinner or I’m trying to find a lighter or I’m pulling wet laundry out of the washing machine. My heart feels cold for a minute. My breath stops. An overwhelming feeling of nausea and dismay washes over me in a wave, a series of waves. I feel as if I’m about to vanish in a puff of smoke and then… it’s over again, and my hand is pulling on the wet towel that’s wrapped itself around the agitator. I can feel the cool sweat on my forehead or upper lip – evidence that something happened; my stomach clenches, and I cough or sigh to re start my breath because I’ve been holding it without realizing. It has passed, that feeling of dread, that panic attack, the nausea of this reality. It’s almost as if I’m not there for a minute or ten, and I don’t know how long I was gone. I don’t know why it hit just then, no matter what it was I was doing or saying or looking at. Like a wave picked me up and dropped me back down but not an ocean wave – instead a sinister wave of fear, death, panic, dread, sadness, grief, anger.
I really do wish people understood the deep anxiety trans people & their families go through with medical care. I’m sitting here waiting for Rache to have a procedure done that they have to put her under for, & I’m sitting out here wondering why we don’t get to talk to any specialist about trans bodies and whether they’ve seen or worked with any before.
And this is ME, people. Empowered trans advocate and educator for 20 years and I feel absolutely powerless and have to hope & have faith. And I know my wife well enough to know that she brought it up in the most charming way possible as they prepped her. We asked ahead of time & were reassured it’s in her chart. Great, sure. But do most specialists know what that means, what trans bodies can look like?
Love to all the trans people, their partners and parents & care givers. It’s a fuck of a thing to have to worry about inexperience and/or transphobia during what should be a routine procedure.
I’m sure she’ll be fine and I’m going to take some deep breaths right now.
It is hard to love someone who you know others hate just because of who they are and how their bodies are.
& Fuck all of you who voted for Trump & these monsters who would encourage any medical personnel to not treat my beautiful wife with dignity & respect.
I’ve been thinking a lot this month about queerness and de centering whiteness this month — someday I’ll have the energy to write more about it.
But what I have been doing is trying to focus on fundraising for some cool organizations and individuals who I personally know are doing great work. So here’s my short list. Donate if you can.
The Okra Project, a grassroots collective that combats food insecurity in the black transgender community, has launched two mental health recovery funds to provide black trans men and women sessions with a licensed black therapist, free of cost. Donate via their PayPal to either the Tony McDade fund (for black trans men) or the Nina Pop fund.
The Audre Lorde Project is a community organizing center focused on the needs of LGBT, GNC, Two Spirit POC. Donate here.
Brown Girl Recovery is a peer support, trauma focused organization “dedicated to community healing for femmes and folks of color” in the Bronx and uptown NYC.
SHEBA (Sisters Helping Each other Battle Adversity) is a group of 20 African American trans women that meets biweekly for leadership development, health promotion activities, and social support. They are supported by Diverse & Resilient, and you can donate through them.
I wish they had given their entire Sunday paper over to the whole of it, to print every single one of these 100,000 names, with the sparest of details – name, place, phrase – and if they had, the Sunday edition of The New York Times would be 100 pages long — and have nothing in it but them.
I wish they had because I think we need to understand, to try to understand, to try to grapple with what we are living through.
This is the equivalent of one person dying every minute of every day for 70 days straight.
This is the equivalent of a person dying every second of every hour of every day for a month.
When do we get to mourn as a nation?
When will people stop arguing about wearing masks?
When will people take a minute to realize what has happened, how many families are grieving, how many lives are lost?
When do we stop caring about how bored we are?
For 20 years we have recited the names of the nearly 4000 who died that Tuesday in NY & PA. It takes nearly 4 hours.
This list would take nearly 100 hours to read, or 4 days, reading non stop.
How will we grieve this? What is even possible? Since our minds can’t make sense of it, there is no ritual that would satisfy the requirements of loss at so great a scale. We can’t make sure every family, every person who was lost, finally gets their memorial, their moment in time, their celebration of life. No, the reality is that they have died watery deaths – no body, no memorial, no gathering, no last rites.
And that is not the beginning of what is horrible about any of this.
Today I will not murk the loss and sadness and grief with finger pointing or mockery of our leadership. I will do that on another day, at another time, and I sure as fuck will do that in November.
Right now I just want to contemplate what it means to live in a culture where a hundred thousand families can’t grieve with each other and instead we’re arguing about masks and so called freedom, where healthcare workers are being accused of villainy or conspiracy.
Right now I just want to say: turn it off. Turn off all the social media. Forget the sarcasm, and the clever “coronavirus likes this” image, the innumerable clever gifs, the everything. But my god, especially the funny. This is no time for scoring a point or having the right emoticon.
This is only a time for grief: collective, wailing, keening, uncategorizable, overwhelming grief.
Sit with it. Light a candle. Say a prayer. Pet a cat. Throw a ball. But remember, with the whole of you, how many people are missing that person they said the prayer for, the pet they loved together, the games they saw together.
We will, I predict, become 80x more callous than we are today if we don’t.
So sit with it. Let your humanity light up a minute of your life. For once in your life, be uncomfortable. Try to reconcile the irreconcilable and fail. Imagine the one loss, or two, or twelve that you’ve experienced. Remember in your guts how it felt, in your head.
There is no way for us to reconcile this loss, to respect it, to grieve it. We could be silent for a month, not talk for a month, maybe. We could light 100,000 candles and still not understand, because every grief, every loss, is inconsolable. Anyone who has lost someone important knows this; everyone who has cried and not slept or slept too much or drank too much or not eaten or eaten too much knows this.
We all know what this loss means, what it is, why it hurts, or we all could, if we stopped, stopped everything, stopped arguing, stopped posting, stopped worrying.
Grieve with me.
Take those four days – the days it would take to read their names out loud – and just grieve.
I don’t know when my four days will happen, but that’s what I’m going to do: no talking, only fasting, only prayer. I think I’ll start the morning after we officially hit 100,000 so that I can tie up loose ends and put up an automatic reply to my email and a note on Facebook because those are the concessions the living demand.
Join me. Let the world go dark for a minute for these, our one hundred thousand dead.
As many of you veterans of the mHB boards know, they flatlined a while back and Rachel and I decided we just couldn’t bring them back. We’ve both given so many hours moderating them over the years; I did, especially, — since 2003! — and I needed instead to focus on my own career, other projects, etc. I do a lot of writing now at Patreon, if you want to come follow me over there.
Perhaps one day I’ll write up a piece about what they were and have been in a way that does them justice.
But for now, some awesome folks from the mHB boards who especially missed them as a result of Covid-19 have created their own.
Tenterhooks: an online community for trans people, gender non conforming people, & their partners. I think their comment policy really does explain the gist of the place, too.
I’ve become a member (though I’ve yet to post) and a few of us also get together for a zoom chat weekly if that’s something you might like.
i don’t know if i can explain how heartsick i am today. having watched italy and new york, having cried so many times, the one good thing was that Evers helped Wisconsin do the right thing.
and you know, it worked. it really fucking worked.
and yet here we are, about to undo all of that good. healthcare workers be damned. everyone’s grandma, diabetic friend, the kids, black people, workers…. everyone be damned because the wisconsin supreme court is bought & paid for, heartless, arguing the letter (badly) & not the spirit of the law.
the comments on Appeton’s city hall paged are horrific. my dear friend Vered was just called an “it” for supporting the city & county’s interim ruling.
i can take stupid. i can’t take heartless. between the people sermonzing about drinking and the tavern league throwing bartenders into the fire, i’m exhausted. hell & the deep blue sea.
this is all going to take longer and be so much worse than it needed to be and it is very hard to be a big hearted person today.
honestly, being a sane person in wisconsin is like being the loved one of an alcoholic.you can’t save them, you can’t help them, & all you can do is remind yourself of that over & over again. the sad thing is, you can put a cap back on a bottle, but you can’t put a lid on a virus.
i really just don’t understand why people are full of rage at being told not to cough on people. or why they don’t understand being a carrier while well. or. or. or. hateful & stupid are a wicked combination.
i know, i know: look for the helpers. but holy shit we are all exhausted.
i know so many good people will continue to stay home, wear masks. i know a lot of business owners will continue only curbside. i know many of us will keep doing what we can.
My friend Lynne wrote this piece for Facebook. I agree with every word.
I’m pretty sure from some of the comments I’ve seen in the past week that there are many people who don’t live in Wisconsin who have literally no idea what’s going on here.
“But they’re just following the laws,” they say.
Oh, you mean the laws they created using one of the most gerrymandered states in US history, which is being sustained and supported by a far-right-wing judiciary that’s made it clear they will side again and again with a legislative branch elected by a false majority?
Wisconsin does not have one person, one vote, not by a long shot. It’s a laboratory for vote suppression, denial of human rights, and efficient, legal means of seizing control of the organs of state.
See, that’s the deal. Everything the Republicans have done is legal, even the obscene ways they got into power. But what they’ve done is wrong and is explicitly intended solely to maintain the dominance of a small number of white, wealthy, “Christian” men.
What’s happening in Wisconsin is going to happen in other states, where it isn’t already being played out. (Yo, Tejas, what up, bitches?)
Voter suppression is the least of it. Claiming, “Well, it’s not nice, but it’s legal, and we’ll just have to get our people back in office at the next election” is really fucking clueless. You can’t get your people back in office when the districts were literally and blatantly constructed to ensure Republicans would be elected.
You think, “Oh, Wisconsin, nice cheese and beer. Polite ex-Germans. Pretty scenery.” You’re an ignorant fool. Wisconsin is the single most racist state by many statistical measures.
Liberal white people really need to drive around Milwaukee , maybe spend a dollar to buy a goddamn clue. This is not the nice, liberal, trying-harder-to-be-decent place it was 20 years ago.
Conservative white people should do it, too, to get some good ideas on how to keep down the racial minorities in their own states. Pick up some tips from the prison system here so they can ensure their underclasses stay sufficiently cowed.
They (the Republicans headed by Vos and Fitzgerald) don’t even pretend to hide what they’re doing any more, and their literal last minute (and successful) efforts to strip the governorship of important powers solely because a Democrat had been elected was disgusting, obscene, and completely legal.
Don’t believe me? Milwaukee is only opening 5 voting locations tomorrow instead of the usual 180. That number is not a typo.
Guess what color people live there who tend to vote Democrat? Hint: not Anglos.
But it’s wrong. Everything happening here is wrong, and plenty of liberals in other states are acting as though it’s business as usual, everyone gets to vote in fair and balanced elections, and things will be “back to normal” Real Soon Now.
Wisconsin is their laboratory and their burying ground for American ideals of equality and access to justice.
I moved here from a colonial state (New Mexico), which routinely surprised me with its level of corruption, but my home has nothing on this wasteland where roam Republic monsters, reprehensible, disgusting Nazi wannabes.
For those of you who don’t know, I used to be a rich, white guy, so I’m pretty sure I understand white guy thinking reasonably well.
I was/am Unitarian, so I’m really liberal, but I have guns and motorcycles and literally give away (open source) all my intellectual creations, so it’s not like I’m claiming I understand modern conservatism. At the individual level, I certainly understand some kinds of systemic oppression, because I learned very, very early that being an atheist was a good way to get a beating.
Now I’m an accidentally queer, kinda rich (social capitalist), atheist woman with no formal education living in a 1930s Germany wannabe state. I’m not kidding around here. Wisconsin is fuckedup, and those of you who don’t live here remind me of people who don’t believe the New Mexicans have to routinely deal with a country where people don’t think they’re part of the United States.
Pay. Fucking. Attention. What’s happening in Wisconsin is wrong, and I’m not just talking about the Republican attempts to control the current election. Wisconsin has basically become what Idaho would look like if it were successful.
I’m not going to enjoy saying, “I told you so” in the future, so I’ll do it now.
Either help, or STFU and get out of the fucking way while we take back our republican democracy.