I’m A Trans Person.

I’m A Trans Person. My Cousin Is a Trump Supporter. Let Me Tell You Why I Declined Their Wedding Invitation

I know a lot of people will read the headline of this missive and roll their eyes so hard that they’ll see the backs of their heads. It’s okay. I probably would have done the same thing two years ago.

I used to find it preposterous that people would allow petty differences of opinion to influence their desire to share momentous occasions with family members. We’re here for one go-round on this journey called life, and certainly we have some duty to lift each other up when it comes to achieving happiness and harmony in the small windows of chaos and heartbreak that life, itself, is composed of.

Sure, people have different world views. We have different cultures, different traditions, different belief systems and we are a spectrum so wide that boundaries are impossible to see. We are the universe, ever expanding, and those differences make us beautiful. That we are all of us, at once, sharing space and time here on this pale blue dot for such a short period, I see us as, if you will, a crew on the great rock hurdling through space. We’re here together, and time will inevitably claim us- claim you, me… and the next crew will be your children and grandchildren, people we will never meet. To them, we’ll be history. We’ll be markers in a graveyard. Mary, Queen of Scots, and Queen Elizabeth, they shared an era, but to us, they are history. We read about them in books. There are millions of others we never knew were here, but like you and I, they existed, struggled through social tyranny. Slavery, the holocaust, the Native American genocide, it all happened in leaflets of a bound text, thus we can acknowledge, but we can never truly appreciate the horrific experiences. The losses. The trembling fear. The nightmarish reality of families struggling through plague or famine. We are so far departed from the reality of those who shared life as they knew it that we cannot look at it without influence from life, today, as we know it. And we are comfortable. History is a dark, ugly monster relegated to black and white print.

I often think of the gay, lesbian and transgender men and women who existed long before I did. They didn’t have an identity. They didn’t have a word to describe them. They thought- as they were told- that they were corrupt. They were sick people who deviated from normal binary roles and that was unacceptable. They endured chemical castrations, lobotomies, inhumane shock treatments and incarceration in prisons and asylums for the criminally “Insane.” In their chapter of life history, they didn’t thrive, but merely existed in shame and humiliation.

I often wonder if any of them imagined a day where someone like me could be sitting here writing words like this. If there would be a reality show about a young transgender girl, Jazz Jennings, as she shares her story with the world as her passenger. I wonder if they could have even conceived of something like Pride marches. They never had that opportunity. Women lived and died who could never vote. Black folks lived and died who were never free. Gay and Trans individuals died believing they were rejects… mistakes.

I think of these words by Martin Luther King often because it represents so much. As he rose up to become an inspirational leader which leaders do not do in our era, he was faced with an onslaught of death threats for telling people of color that they had a place. They had a value of life and deserved a quality of peace and equality unhindered by those who ignorantly believed the color of their skin measured the quality of their character. To them, in his final speech before his assassination, he said this;

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live — a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

I may not get there with you.” I can’t help but be overwhelmed by emotion as I consider how this man was such an instrument of change for so many people, and for the future he would not live to see. While he wouldn’t witness the powerful results of his existence, I am consoled by that fact that because of him, the world was made better. He did not fight in vain. He was a world- shaper. The words he spoke in the chapter of history in which he existed, did not end when he did. They echoed. Even still.

Many people walk through life with an arrogance of belief that the world only began turning on the instance they took their first breath. LGBT Pride is a day to have a parade, get drunk and party. Martin Luther King day is just a day off work or school. People are untethered from reality only because it was not theirs. They did not suffer the consequences of- not a different world- but a different leadership that enabled the oppression, hatred, incarceration, mutilation, torment and murder of people just like them.

And now we’re rolling back the hands of the clock at a pace so frightening that these people who never thought that history could repeat itself, that the privileges, no matter how minute or progress so slow, could somehow find themselves living in the past, in the future. All this, not because our efforts of shouting “Love Is Love” and the #BlackLiveMatter and #MeToo and our Marches in the streets, but in retaliation to it. In spite of it. For eight years, in my lifetime, I witnessed a beloved back President, the first ever. The next eight years I fear I will witness an unbridled revenge for having had that.

And to my ultimate point of why I turned declined an invitation to a family members wedding- My cousin, a cherub faced red head with bright blue eyes and pale freckled skin and her soon-to-be husband, who only once addressed me on social media as “Bro.” Avid Trump supporters who voted, without conscience or concern for any other individual sharing this journey and the unfolding results we’re witnessing in headlines every single day;

You have betrayed me.

You have betrayed every person not sharing this chapter of time, those who suffered the trials and tragedies and died during regimes like the one you support today. You betrayed every gay person, every trans person, every woman, every person of color, every single human being who never got to thrive due to ignorance, bigotry and state sanctioned political abuse and subsequent erasure.

You chose to thrust us back in time, to preserve your supremacy and enjoy a walk-through life because you’re straight, catholic, white and cisgender, and only you mattered. Meanwhile, I, and people like me, have to sit here every single day and witness the gut-wrenching increase of violence against black men and women, the LGBT+ community and immigrants. I have to wake up every day with the sense of dread, wondering what bullet I’ll have to dodge next- another military ban? A reversal of marriage equality? Rolling back protections for vulnerable transgender people in public spaces like schools? A never ending feed of bored white people calling the police on black Americans for simply existing in their domain? More photos of the N-word spray painted by racist vandal or, more White Nationalist Trump fanatics marching in the State Capitol? More laws that protect bigots who refuse to medically treat or even provide menial services to people like me– not because I’m bad, but because we live in a world where now they can… again.

You resurrected the past.

Now, so am I. The voices who you’ve never heard, who lived through times much worse than this, but we’re spiraling dangerously close to, I am speaking out for. No one had to die for you to get married. No one had to die for your freedom as a white person. No government ever banned you for being straight, or cisgender. No Judge ever extolled a harsher sentence on you for how you presented or imprisoned you for your religion. But millions of us, both here, and long departed- that was our every day lives.

The state of my life today, my ability to thrive in a hostile climate growing more volatile with each passing hour is a result of your choice. But, my life is not yours, thus irrelevant to you, or your future. The very same can be said for the millions who, in 2016, voted to force people like me to have to posture themselves to fight for the right to thrive against a raging tide of hate that you didn’t just empower, but collectively paved a passage for. You unified yourself with a vile, archaic, narcissistic world view that has claimed so many victims that I cannot see you as anything but complicit. I’ll say it again… the consequences of your choices are not victimless. I am proof of that.

So, maybe it is petty to some who will write me off as a left-wing radical weeping liberal tears. That is, after all, the go-to argument for those who are writing this chapter of what will be tomorrow’s history in an effort to dismiss them; To thumb their nose at them for being “Too sensitive,” or “A Snowflake.” We’ve heard it all before. We heard it when women wanted to vote- they were “Too emotional.” We heard it when Black folks wanted to attend white schools and received access to a higher education, they were “Too insubordinate.” When gay people wanted to get marred and they took to the streets in great numbers to protest inequality, they were “Too entitled.”

For me, this isn’t taking a low road. Sure, I could go and watch you trade the nuptials others in our country didn’t even have until 3 years ago. I could smile warmly knowing that when all is said and done, I’ll leave just to go back to the frontlines of a domestic war that you have created for me and people like me.

The truth is this; I’m not declining your invitation in protest. I wish you the best- in fact, a lifetime of happiness and the continued, unobscured freedoms and privileges you’ve always been granted. I want that for you.

But, I want that for me too. I want that for all people like me. I’d be a hypocrite to protest your right to enjoy your life and unify with a life partner to share it with, because we all deserve that. All of us. Clearly, you don’t share that sentiment. You’ve demonstrated that.

So, while I don’t protest your rights, dear cousin, my time, unfortunately, must be spent fighting for mine, not in protest, but as a duty to myself, and my responsibility to the people being further marginalized thanks to those like you. It is a torch that was passed to us by those who lost their lives fighting and dying so I might write these words. The gift given to be, so that I might enjoy a better time they would never see in their lifetime.

If that’s petty, so be it.

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Police Officers Are Returning To Religion To Serve Justice

And this is a dark harbinger of things to come for the LGBT and POC communites.

It’s no secret that most Police Officers and Judges subscribe to a particular religious faith. From small town patrolman doling out speeding tickets to Supreme Court Justices. We’re witnessing an unnerving return to the days when we in the LGBT community were the victims of Religious Authorities who were responsible for enforcing the law, and did so, not with an investment in upholding their oath to protect and serve, but instead abuse their power to destroy the lives of those whose existence conflicts with their personal belief system.

Remember how the Stonewall riots began? In In 1969, members of the LGBT community had to congregate in secret. Homosexuality and possessing a Trans identity were not just socially frowned upon, but against the law. A “Man” donning any women’s attire could be arrested in New York thanks to an antiquated law until 2011. The police routinely organized raids on LGBT spaces, hauled off the patrons of these establishments to jail, and Judges often sent them to prison for “Immorality.” Trans pioneer Sylvia Rivera made it her mission to give these individuals, unjustly imprisoned for their suspected sexuality, a lifeline. She visited them, wrote them letters, and along with other early pioneers, gave birth to the first Pride March which was specifically intended to protest the religiously motivated persecution of the LGBT community by a justice system which held its roots firmly in religious doctrine creating laws and enforcing them according to biblical scripture.

Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson lead the first Pride in New York City, June 28, 1969

“In God We Trust” was everywhere. In schools, on American currency, State buildings, court houses and monuments. Some of us remember reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the US Flag before starting our daily school routine. In that pledge, we children chanted in chorus, “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” As a nation, we never got that last part right. There was liberty for the white, wealthy, straight, cisgender and christian, while the rest of us who didn’t fall between goal posts were just subject to injustice.

It permeated our society to such a degree that individual city and state laws at the lowest levels all the way to the Supreme Court was determined by the Bible. While the majority of Americans did, indeed, declare themselves as as subscribers of Christian faith- at least some derivative of it- those who didn’t were viewed as evil-doers, deniers of God, derelicts and subject to extreme cruelty, isolation and traumatic psychological damage. They also found themselves completely devoid of protections from any agency whose responsibility it was to do so.

Over the years, as we developed and matured as a progressive society that was represented by diversity in our culture, the scales of justice began to balance ever so subtlety as people of color and women were elected to office. Women, despite God’s order of subservience to male domination, began fighting for recognition and equality. People of color gained more visibility and influence in places of power. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first black major-party candidate to run for President of the United States. Martin Luther King developed an enormous following, not by fear-mongering but by inspiring men and women of color to stand up and be counted, and thankfully, they did. More recently we’ve seen members of the LGBTQ+ community elected to public office, and all of this is vital. Why? Because we have officials who know first hand what it is like to be marginalized, discounted, pushed to the fringes and virtually ignored by the traditionally white, male politicians who made a career out of segregating us from those deemed the picture of suburban Americana. These pioneers laid a path to progress.

All of that is now at risk as we face social and political regression unlike any we have experienced before. Rarely does a country move backward in the context of evolution of human rights, social progress and diversity being celebrated rather than oppressed. The 2016 election has opened the doors for emboldened racism, bigotry and misogyny to rear it’s ugly head and return us to the dark ages where liberty is reserved for an elite few and the rest of us suffer at the unmerciful hands of religious radicalism.

Policemen around the nation are now independently branding their vehicles with stickers proudly stating “In God We Trust” which indicates that is exactly how they intend to observe and enforce the law upon the rest of us.

Texas Police car
North Carolina Police Car
Mississippi Police Car
Virginia Police Car
Michigan Police Car
Georgia Police Cars
Florida Police Car
Tennessee Police Car
Illinois Police Car
Ohio Police Car

The list of Government Law Enforcement Agencies inscribing “In God We Trust” on their vehicles goes on and on. But, it says so much more in reality. It says “I have an immediate bias.”

Not that most law enforcement agencies don’t already exercise prejudicial disbursement of malformed justice to minorities, it’s just that now they’re eagerly advertising it. Statistically, more black men and women go to jail than white people who commit equivalent crimes. At the same time, Men and women who possess characteristics or mannerism typically associated with stereotypical homosexuality, such as feminine men or masculine women, are often dealt harsher sentences than their straight acting counterparts… and transgender women and men frequently find themselves subjected to the bias of religious judges who throw them in prisons according to their birth assigned gender where they experience rape, solitary confinement, brutal physical attacks and are even murdered in custody.

Atheists are fortunate in that their absence of Christian aligned faith isn’t evident based on appearance, but muslims and people from other nations- not altogether dissimilar to the immigrants detained at the Mexico border meet the wrath of a xenophobic, intolerant administration of law that results in their inhumane treatment.

Prisons are veritable faucet of cashflow for law enforcement agencies who procure money-for-nothing as a means to punish via incarceration or fines those who are guilty of crimes. Even non-violent crimes committed by people of color and LGBT people are met with excessive punishments which, many times, renders them homeless, jobless, and incapable of thriving in society once released. If convicted of a felony, they don’t qualify for benefits to get them back on their feet, and are often denied jobs based on the circumstances of their criminal history. When a white man goes to jail, such as Brock Turner, a rapist who sexually attacked an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and was caught in the act, he was sentenced to 6 months in jail and served three of them. The media talked about his athletic achievement and educational merits. A Black man found not guilty by a jury still served 7 years in prison.

Police in ultra-conservative Rome, Georgia still harass a transgender woman, Ashley Diamond, who has sued the local authorities for targeting her after her initial release from prison in 2015. In retaliation, they repeatedly stop her, demand her ID and patrol her neighborhood waiting for her to leave. Diamond cannot move from the Georgia town as a condition of her parole. She’s remains subject to police torment. In cases like these, who polices the police?

In Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark ruling wherein the Supreme Court outlawed segregated public education facilities for blacks and whites at the state level, religious zealots and hyper conservatives retaliated with outrage and violence. Remember, historically, the concept of segregation and the laws that prohibited interracial marriage were religiously motivated, considered not in God’s design that Blacks and Whites should mingle. Conservatives claimed that it violated their religious freedom, to have to acknowledge integrated society. Sound familiar?

It should, because we’re right back there now. God’s design. Authorities bellowing “In God We Trust.” White Nationalists and Bigots so emboldened by the new presidential administration who they believe sanctions their hatred toward minorities that they have put it on display for the world to see. These are Christians who are voting to elect men into power who sexually attack young women and children, all while preaching that Transgender women who have committed no crime are a threat to their wives and daughters in public bathrooms.

How are we as people of color and LGBT Americans supposed to have any faith that we will ever be served equal and fair administration of law by servants of God? Those to whom our very existence conflicts with their system of belief are incapable of providing justice without inherent prejudice.

Let us be clear, this is not about Religious freedom. These people are free to organize and practice their religion without persecution based on their beliefs anywhere they see fit. No one is interested in prohibiting that. No one has introduced bills suggesting we abolish churches or Sunday bake sale fundraisers or Christian holidays… but these religious people, citing the religious freedoms they already have, want to use it to take away the rights from others. In both Oklahoma and Kansas, Christian adoption agencies who were once prevented by law from discriminating against placing orphaned children with loving gay parents can now, citing religious freedom, deny prospective parents the right to adopt.

The Health and Humans Services administration has, at Donald Trump’s orders, created a division called Religious Freedom and New Conscience which allows medical caregivers, first responders and service providers the right to deny treatment to LGBT people if they cite moral or religious objection. This division protects them from legal recourse, even in the event that their neglect results in death of a LGBT person.

The reality here is, we suffer from a condition, collectively, in where we have no freedom from religion, which predisposes us to unfair treatment by authorities who subscribe to religious law and then enforces it upon us as civilians. Because of this, we stand to suffer grave consequences at the hands of those who rule under the elitist banner of “In God We Trust.”

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Drag Artist Aja Comes to the Defense of Trans and Non Binary Communities

Rupaul’s Drag Race has had more than it’s fair share of controversy when it comes to the remarks on– and inclusion of- transgender individuals. Some in the drag community, particularly cigender gay men, speak out frequently to condemn transgender women, femme queens and non-binary folks, who they believe should not be allowed to participate in the art form.

As a member of this community, I know of many transgender women who rebuke drag and are even triggered by the aspect of performance and impersonation regarding it as inflammatory or a mockery of their own identity and I respect those reactions. I have trans friends who will never see a drag show because they perceive it as offensive “Trans-face.” Other friends frequent clubs and bars where drag queens before and have a good relationship with the cisgender men who perform, viewing it as more of a celebration of femininity and less mimicry. A great many of the artists I know are assigned women at birth, and do excellent performances in their local areas, demonstrating that drag is not a gender exclusive arena.

To compound that, I also have friends who are transgender and also drag performers.

But, at the epicenter of Drag and its journey into mainstream culture is where the conflict lays. Who owns drag? That seems to be the question that an alarming number of cisgender gay men who perform believe they have the answer to. They do. Naturally, as with any large community that commands a lot of public attention and is deeply competitive, the most outspoken of them have poised themselves as a sort of guardian of the art, regularly attacking the performers who don’t fall into their world view of drag. I have seen it myself, both as a participant, and as a fan of women and trans folks who engage with audiences in spectacular drag fashion, as they find themselves challenged by a minority of gay men who simply don’t want them in their space.

Yes, Virgina, there is a such thing as a Trans exclusionary gay man. Being a part of the community they deeply- and loudly- oppose, I see their missives with unsettling regularity. I’ve witnessed femme queens Courtney Conquers and Crimson Kitty both have to defend themselves against self-appointed “Drag Bouncers.”

Transgender and non-binary performers have experienced the same exclusionary trends in the community, often having intense debates with those who have unilaterally determined that they don’t belong in the industry of expression through performance.

It’s unfortunate to witness these divides given the far more dangerous threats that face all of us as a community — where not one of us is viewed by radical religion or hyper conservatives creating laws as better than the other. The ship is sinking and the diners are arguing over who is entitled to the best table.

Some drag queens, like Drag Race season 9 winner Sasha Velour came out in staunch support of diversity in the art of drag after Rupaul made the announcement that he would never consider a transgender contestant for his show who had any gender confirming surgery. While there have been trans contestants on Rupaul’s Drag Race, they didn’t reveal it until after the show aired.

Outside the context of this polarizing topic, very few drag queens speak out politically. It’s dangerous, after all. Most of us live by the rule of never discussing politics or religion in polite company- I get that I’m an exception to that rule, clearly.

Apparently, so is Aja, the star of both Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 9 and All Stars 3, who recently took to twitter to get some things off his chest- and he’s sick of how the cigender gay community alienates trans and non-binary folks who exist beneath that umbrella.

Very few have stepped up, using their platform, to ask hard hitting questions and deliver some much needed home truths in a manner that only Aja, himself, could manage. Sure, some Drag Race stars have come out to do the exact opposite, like Willam, for example, whose is notorious for his anti-trans rants, but few had dared threaten their own fame and favor to fight for inclusivity and equality of the most marginalized within our own community.

Often, for good reason. This scathing article from Back2Stonewall wrote a catty, dismissive piece, ultimately attempting to discredit her argument and preserve the fragile thing that is the male ego- even the gay male ego. Some people can’t handle the truth when one of their own breaks formation to defend the rights of the rest of us who remain “othered.”

Aja did. She said it using her platform. She didn’t sanitize her statements or make the pill easier to swallow… And I’m glad someone finally did just that without feeling it necessary to apologize at the same time for having the audacity to raise their voice.

Bravo, Aja.

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We Need To Talk About The Myth of “Passing” In The Trans Community

Some transgender men and women place so much weight on their perceived visual presentation that it usurps their right to thrive.

Ever since I found my home in the transgender community many years ago, one common myth has persisted: A trans person must “Pass” as their preferred gender in order to be allowed their identity. The value placed on passing has had so much significance placed on it by transgender folks that I have witnessed it contribute to the emotional and psychological downfall of tremendously good people who have been victim to this imposed ideaology that a transgender person cannot “Look” transgender, or possess any characteristics of their birth assigned gender. These men and women suffer indelible consequences; Self hatred, social anxieties, depression, self imposed isolation. Their hyper-focus on “Passing” impedes their ability to identify their own positive qualities and substance of power.

Let’s call “Passing” what it really is: The desire to meet the standard of an external social gaze. The privilege of blending in with the rest of society as a “norm” rather than stand out as an “other.” I am not sure why no one has told these incredible people why standing out is far more powerful than falling into formation to satisfy the often unreasonable definitions of femininity and masculinity as if they have firm definitions… they don’t. I know many women with masculine traits, wide shoulders for example, arms with ample hair, some stand over six feet tall or are mistaken for a man on the telephone because their voice is not received as explicitly female. There are men with small waists, even proud busts that make small-breasted women jealous. Some have soft features or mannerisms that have been classified as traditionally feminine. Cisgender people, even with these vast variations in appearances and mannerisms rarely suffer a blow to their quality of life as a result of not fitting into socially constructed molds of how men and women develop. That fact is, while masculinity and femininity are identifiable characteristics, they are not and never have been exclusive to men or women, transgender or not.

When I moved into my first apartment, my landlord was a 55 year old art teacher. When I first called the number on the “FOR RENT” sign in the window of that two story home on the corner of my one streetlight town, I thought I was speaking to a woman when he answered. When we met for the showing, I was surprised to discover that it was him. He wasn’t trans. He was actually a straight, married man with three kids. However, his shrill voice and flamboyant gestures fetched a lot of attention in a small town where everyone knows everyone else. I’d hear other young folks talk about him and throw a limp wrist around to imply he was gay. If it bothered him, he never let on. Despite my initial misstep of referring to him as Ma’am on the telephone, he never bothered to correct me, which is why it blindsided me when I met that portly, balding little man and he greeted me with that voice from the phone. I imagine he was so used to it that the infraction simply never fazed him anymore. He was confident enough in his identity that he didn’t feel it was necessary to bring my expectations into alignment by means of aggressively correcting my pronouns or taking any offense to my error.

As trans people, we don’t allow ourselves that luxury. The demand we place on ourselves to satisfy the external gaze becomes nearly excessive, thus, self destructive. What does the perfect woman look like? How does she sound? The ideal man?

There is no schematic to follow, no rules of gender presentation or characteristics we must or must not have in order to embody our gender identity. We have made them up. Society has influenced our idea of what a man or a woman is- what makes them attractive. The men on the cover of GQ and the women staring back at us in the centerfold of Cosmo are not reality. They are caricatures, often styled, manufactured and edited to deceive us into the belief that is the standard we must reach for. No one is exempt from being disillusioned by looking at those images, then at themselves, and feeling that pang of defeat as they realize that is not them. They are too short, too heavy, their nose is too big, their hairline too far back, their teeth more crooked than the person in the check out line in front of them so they put their hand over their mouth when they smile.

To some trans folks, passing means not being identified- or targeted- because of their gender presentation versus their physical build. I get it. The path of least resistance is the one where we don’t have to stop and explain or deal with the clerk at the gas station misgendering us when we pay for our items. We don’t have to endure the awkward apologies that follow, or worse, the incriminating whispers we observe from onlookers. Passing ultimately means avoiding unwanted attention. But, that isn’t specific to us trans people. It happens to the girl with more body mass who gets heckled in a restaurant, or man given side-eye for his embellished tattoos. Someone is always going to clutch their pearls at those whose physical body design departs from ideological proportion or expression.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring that path of least resistance. We all want that emboldened confidence we see pretty girls or handsome guys who were fortunate enough to fall between the goal posts have, but it’s not the norm, my friends. For any gender.

We don’t all come from the same mold. I want to remind you that you are a one of a kind. You are a piece of atomic art. Your value is priceless, thus shouldn’t be determined by the satisfaction of any of the strangers who populate the world. We live in our skin, and while doing what we must to feel good about ourselves, to walk with our head held high is absolutely vital, our self image is just that… our self image. We own that. When we hand the power to the greater world to create our image for us, we will forever be reaching to attain a level of ever-shifting terms of acceptability, and more for the comfort of others than for ourselves.

It took me decades to learn that lesson. I was that person who lived in a state of perpetual angst over how my gender was perceived and accepted. Until others were indifferent to me, I refused to be satisfied with myself. Indeed, I wasn’t looking to be held up as a pinnacle of beauty- I repeat, I only wanted people to be indifferent to my gender as I navigated my way over the terrain of life. I hinged my happiness on that.

When I was told that traditional transition wasn’t an option for me, I was devastated. I suffer from a genetic defect called MTFHR- a disorder that causes me to produce high homocysteine levels, predisposing me to blood clots that can result in heart attack or stroke. As a result of this inherited defect, hormone replacement therapy was not an option. The risks associated with the medication amplified those I already faced.

It was a rough journey, I’ll be honest. I had to come to terms with the fact that no part of me would physically feminize. I was burdened with this damn course black facial hair, thanks to my Lebanese decent. The thick, black leg hair growth, the hairy arms and heavy brow. These things, I though, made me male. I envied women with their peach fuzz arms and legs who only bothered to shave once a month, as where I saw myself as an amalgamate of constant maintenance, which I did exhaustively, only to feel defeated as my male features betrayed me. What kind of life would I have if I lived under constant scrutiny. People will know. People will stare. People will laugh.

Oddly enough, before I acknowledged- or even knew what Transgender meant, I thought I was just an effeminate gay man. As a teenager I, like my landlord I would meet years later, had an unusually high pitched voice for a male. I endured so much abuse for not sounding enough like a boy throughout my school years. My own mother would make fun of me, mimicking my voice when I’d talk. I refused to speak on my answering machine, and lowered my voice if I had to speak on the phone. At Sixteen years old, I started smoking after reading a story in a magazine about a rock singer who smoked before each concert to lower his voice and hit the bass notes. I smoked and smoked like a house on fire hoping beyond hopes, ironically, that I would sound like a man should sound.

You see, no matter which direction my gender pendulum swung, I was trying to embody what I thought was right according to everyone else instead of accepting the body I lived in. The lengths I went to in order to first be perceived as qualifying as male, to then taking on the task of qualifying as a woman kept me so wrapped up in fitting in, that I never appreciated that I stood out.

I can say that now. We underestimate our value in that, perhaps, we don’t tic every box in the “I MUST BE THIS… TO BE THIS” survey. We have conditioned ourselves to believe that passing is the penultimate achievement of the trans experience. We’ve sabotaged ourselves by being the first to criticize and reject ourselves before anyone else might have the opportunity to. If we don’t like what we see looking back at us in a mirror image… well, we accept immediately that no one else will like it either. We overwhelm ourselves with an inordinate amount of stress wondering if anyone out there will accept us as the gender we are… if we’ll be called “Sir” despite our tireless efforts to pass, if we’ll be called “Ma’am” regardless of our visibly male attire or short haircut.

Part of the new resistance and pursuit of pride begins with self love. For some, surgical intervention is the answer, for others, it is not necessary. Even still, there are a whole other sect of individuals who fall somewhere in the middle. Yet, none are more or less valid as men or women than the next. We have different intentions, desires and degrees of dysphoria, most certainly, but if the idea of “Passing” has you finding yourself alone, unattractive, or a lesser equivalent to those you hold on high as a gender goal, you’re undermining the gift of the trans journey, which is, in part to ask society to conform to a state of acceptance rather than you bearing the burden of changing yourself simply to gain it by passing. We trans people have influenced so much change in how the greater world adapts to pronoun usage, well beyond the “Sirs” and “Ma’ams” that once plagued us. Now, we have awareness, and it wasn’t because we hid ourselves away until we fit the world view of femininity and masculinity.

We changed that world view.

I wish I could, in one post, take the weighty stress that maybe you’ve experienced over your appearance and physical body design. I wish I could reassure you that you are a man, or a woman, as you present, and that your big arms or wide hips play no part in validating you as authentic in your gender identity… but I know it does in your ability to love yourself. However, may I remind you that hating yourself for it isn’t going to make anyone else love you more. In fact, most of those who inhabit your world, those in your orbit, they will love you as you are, and support you in the path you choose to take.

Maybe, they wish you loved yourself as much as they do.

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From Fake News To Fact: How Alt-Right Movements Start With Internet Trolls

It began on a web forum with a college student giving the “OK” hand gesture. It turned into a symbol of hate embraced by White Nationalists.

Recently I was researching some of the most trending anti-LGBT movements to hit social media- the hashtag #DropTheT- a radical feminist effort by right-wing lesbians to exile transgender women and men from beneath the LGBT umbrella. More recently, there was the incredibly alarming uprising of the individuals self-identifying as MAPs (Minor-Attracted People) -or, pedophiles, if, like me you refuse to grant those who pose a threat to children with a sanitized initialism.

I watched MAPs openly discuss their desire to be “Out of the closet” without risking social shame. They compared themselves and their struggles to gay and bisexual folks claiming that they are simply people who have a different sexual orientation, which they have termed “Pedo-sexual.”

With the increased visibility of emboldened bigotry in post-Trump America, which, I confess, always existed, albeit more quietly and begrudgingly, as we pushed back against it, I wondered how all these new, more radical ideas that conservative have latched onto came to the surface.

I was shocked when a fellow writer (An actual journalist- of which I am not, nor do I claim to be.) began sharing with me discoveries of her own. As I listened and made comparisons to my own research, I had one of those mind-blown moments. Most of the propaganda that has reared it’s ugly head in the last two years have been directly linked to internet trolls who introduced concepts and ideas leveraging (I hate to say it) fake news.

No, it’s not Russia. It’s far less sophisticated. It’s legions of people who do things “For the lulz” like spamming the TIME Person of the Year poll in Donald Trump’s favor that organize and inhabit dark corners of the metaverse and deliberately post content out of context, like photos and videos en masse on social media. Since most users don’t fact check and instead simply react, it sometimes catches fire. While I’m sure it began long before now, the current political climate has created something of a perfect storm for things that were once easily dismissed as innocuous to become national symbols for White Nationalists who have come to collectively embrace it and demonstrate it.

The girl had blonde hair, blue eyes and blindingly white teeth. It was her graduation day, and she stood before the backdrop of a theater curtain giving the “OK” symbol. We’re all familiar with the marriage of the thumb and forefinger as a benign gesture to say “All good.” However the image, as it was circulated, had a crude outline of her fingers drawn on top of her hand making the letters WP and a caption that accompanied the image said it was a covert message that White Supremacists use to signal their loyalty to their belief system.

It didn’t take long before everyone who’d ever used the gesture was “Outed” as a racist. It flew around the internet faster than a Kadashian as a new hand-of-hate was born.

Everyone accepted this as real. Everyone who ever took a wedding reception photo, post-childbirth photo, or a sports team celebrating a win found themselves chucking them in the nearest fire to avoid wrongful persecution. Then, they jumped on the bandwagon, joining the growing chorus of voices renouncing the touching of fingers in such a way to show solidarity.

And here is where it becomes more disturbing. True Alt-right, White Nationalists saw this and actually adopted it. Soon, the hand gesture did, in fact, become a way that these people possessing these world views identified themselves with similar respect to the Heil Hitler salute.

Fake news was suddenly thrust into the state of existing as fact.

It was shills who actually began the #DropTheT hashtag that began trending on twitter a few months ago. Not radical lesbian feminists who just loathed transgender people. Shills are people who pose as someone of a specific mindset or interest who attempt to build an army of radicalist-minded individuals from within their own community and turn them against each other in an effort to create chaos and division. Heavily trafficked sites like Reddit and Twitter are full of them, and they prey upon- and influence the opinions of- the actual user base it’s intended for. The most vulnerable being, of course, where minorities and disenfranchised communities congregate. Their interests lay solely in creating outrage by introducing false triggers like hashtags and rejecting real content and social issues that makes users uncomfortable by offering up straw-man arguments or blatant denial. Sometimes, they find support. Sometimes, our own community joins them in shutting down activists who are working to provide information or expose propaganda. Sadly, I’ve seen it happen. A Reddit user claiming to be transgender whose rapid-fire comments of opposition to any Trans-informative posts that point to community issues, was discovered to frequent many controversial forums, some wherein she also claimed to be an INCEL that hated women who refused them sex. Regardless of gender or ideology, they had a goal. Sew contention and discourse. Discredit by matter of loud opinion. Plant seeds of misdirection and accrue support for their agenda.

That is how #DropTheT, which began as a plant by shills in 2015, was finally given a platform thanks to Alt-Right media darling Milo Yiannopoulos. However, it wasn’t until 2018 that it found legitimacy once it caught the attention and generated momentum from enough vocal Radfems who shared that sentiment. Pleased to see someone take the first step in making such a bold, nefarious statement, many followed suit, effectively adopting it as a part of their movement to have Transgender people and trans specific organizations- during Pride month- removed from the events. The internet trolls who most likely weren’t a feminist, nor a member of the LGBT community at all, succeeded in handing bigots a weapon they had been too ashamed to use alone. They were lured into the open, convinced they were one of many, by a shill. A single, hateful hashtag became, over time, a mission statement.

They tried the same thing by targeting the bisexual community.

This is how shills shape our communities, our opposition and turn memes and hashtags into inter-cultural war zones. They light the fuse on a radical minority and step back as they watch us fight those they bring into agreement with their fake propaganda.

So, when my journalist friend said to me “Phaylen, MAPs weren’t real. They were introduced by shills to discredit Transgender people and to validate the arguments that both politicians and evangelists have used to imply we are threats to greater society.” Indeed, she proved to me why she is the journalist, and I am a Cat Lady. I sat with my mouth hanging half-open as I read her words. Let’s be clear, pedophiles exist. But, are they really ingratiating themselves into LGBT culture, making their own pride flags and sharing photos of themselves online bemoaning the trials of “coming out” to an oppressive society? I bought it. In my defense, my President has called Nazis “Good people.” I have accepted that I live in an era where even the most atrocious, unthinkable things are no longer so… unthinkable.

While she was absolutely right, the terrifying reality is this: What didn’t exist once upon a better time- out and proud MAPs with allies and support systems- well, they certainly do now.

Real pedophiles have been delivered sympathy and reassurance by shills, who have encouraged them, by pretending to be one of them, to parallel their deviations of sexualizing children with the ongoing fight for inclusion and equality LGBT people face even today. It’s important to recognize that the sole purpose of incentivising the normalization of MAPs is to weaponize it against the LGBT community. Every preacher behind a pulpit and Republican congressman hoping to reverse our rights will say to their supporters; “See, I warned you what was going to happen next, now they’re LGBT”P”!”

Because of the onslaught of shill manifested antagonists that assume a real space in our orbit, we divide. Some of us fight the pedophiles, and some, shockingly, defend them. “How can you ask for tolerance but offer none?” Those who support them will say, as if there is some moral equivalency to being gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender to being a pedophile. When we push back, we divide even further, labelled haters, and losing people who were one LGBT supporters. And while we’re focusing on waging that war, our government leaders and Supreme Court Judges are rolling back all the progress it took decades to achieve.

For the trolls and shills? Mission accomplished.

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Scarlett Johansson Insults The Transgender Community Who Object To Her Portraying Trans Character

She doesn’t care if Transgender people find her insensitive.

Here we go again. You must be as sick of reading about it as I am writing about it. Another cisgender Hollywood A-Lister will don drag and pretend they are transgender in hopes of being showered with accolades during Awards season.

This time, it’s Scarlett Johansson, who recently- and controversially- played the lead role of Major Motoko Kusanagi in the American adaptation of the popular Japanese franchise, Ghost In The Shell. The Character of Major is of Japanese decent and Johansson is Caucasian. That film, directed by Rupert Sanders, who is also white, incensed loyal fans of the Ghost In The Shell franchise, which began in 1989 as a Manga and spawned two popular animated films. Johansson and Sanders were accused of deliberately white-washing the the original story, re-writing canonically Japanese characters as white while appropriating Japanese style and storytelling for their own purpose.

Scarlett Johansson as Major and the Original Manga Character

Manga fans were offended, Japanese people were outraged and petitions and boycotts of the film were organized prior to its release with fans pointing out that American studios had no shortage of qualified Japanese Actresses who could have better served the original material.

It’s no secret that actual Asian actors have had a difficult time being cast in Hollywood movies. In 2015, the year Ghost In The Shell was released, they were almost invisible in mainstream films, having only an estimated 3.9% of all speaking roles in motion pictures that year. While social media took the collaboration of Johannson and Sanders to task for their clear discrimination, suggesting dozens of alternative Asian performers, their cries fell on deaf ears.

Now, the dubious duo of Johansson and Sanders are back, reteaming for the film Rub & Tug. The synopsis for that film is simple; Tex Gill, a larger than life character who, while transitioning from female to male, becomes the crime kingpin of 1970s Pittsburgh through his empire of illicit massage parlors.

And who will be playing the Transman? Scarlett Johansson. Of course, the last decade has been rife with cishet actors playing transgender characters- most recently, Matt Bomer in “Anything” which LGBT activists denounced as another slap in the fact to the plethora of transgender actors who struggle to find work and are passed over again and again for cisgender actors- typically men, who feign being Transgender. Transmen are not exempt from this celluloid mockery, of course. Hillary Swank played transman Brandon Teena in tragic biopic “Boys Don’t Cry” and won and Oscar. Traditionally, Hollywood decorates the actors that play transgender characters. Eddie Redmayne, Jared Leto, Felicity Huffman and Jeffrey Tambor have all been nominated or won awards from their elite peers, with their performances called “Daring,” “Brave” and “Groundbreaking.” It must be noted, however that in the critically acclaimed film “Tangerine” where actual Transgender actresses played the title roles, they found their performances ignored by the major Awards ceremonies. Ironically, Tangerine which was hailed as one of the best films of the year by multiple reviewers came out the same year as the much more tepidly received film “The Danish Girl” starring Eddie Redmayne. No one was surprised when the Academy and Golden Globes both bestowed nominations upon Redmayne while thumbing their nose at the lead actresses, Mya Taylor and Kiki Rodriguiz for their incredible performances in Tangerine.

So, when Johansson was questioned about about her decision to take on the role of a transman, despite the increase in the community opposing cisgender actors portraying them as caricatures on-screen, she released a statement saying this:

“Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”

This can be translated as this: “Like everyone else, I want my Oscar for getting in drag and playing a transgender person.”

How absolutely tone deaf and arrogant can Johansson be? Yet another pompous actor denying the legitimacy of transgender identity. Despite the menagerie of highly qualified, incredibly talented transgender men who find work scarce- if not virtually non-existent in the film industry, they’ve opted to turn the other cheek and cast some who is unqualified and has only achieved one thing in their collaborations thus far: Removing minorities from their works and assuming authority over their culture and identity, reassuring that the actors in their field who are qualified for the roles stay unemployed, the community further marginalized and remain without adequate representation. They reinforce the idea that audiences will not accept real Asians, or genuinely transgender performers on film, thus for their comfort they must inhabit these roles themselves or otherwise risk alienating the pearl clutching suburbanites who might be shocked to discover we non-whites, non-cisgender actually exist.

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Do You Know What A MAP Is? I Just Found Out And Now I’m Warning Friends

It’s not a geographical survey, it’s something much more sinister.

Imagine me, your friendly neighborhood Trans Cat Lady as I sip my tea browsing Facebook, as one does on a warm, summer Friday night, and suddenly discover a plethora of posts across my feed referencing MAPs.

Just when you think you’re an enlightened, modern individual with your finger on the pulse of social matters, something comes out of left field and reminds you that you’re not running in mainstream anymore. I had to look deeper, realizing the context of a MAP was not by any means indicating navigation or a request for directions.

No, it’s something much more horrific than I ever anticipated. MAP is an initialism, self-created by the proud individuals it references, as “Minor Attracted Persons.”

Pedophiles. Adults sexually attracted to and aroused by minor children. This is their self identifier. MAP.

This had to sink in. It wasn’t just one post, but several, in fact, many being shared by people far more alert (Thanks Ambien) than I am to developing news and trends.

Sitka Falardeau

MAP’s have been using social media under this self-identifier for some time, sprouting up and organizing mostly from the blogging site, Tumblr. Currently, there is a petition to have openly expressing MAPs removed from the site.

In one facebook post, a user shared a status of collected photos of the Men and Women who were proudly identifying as MAPs. This is where I learned that a sect of the MAP community also identify as NOMAPs– or, “Non-offending Minor Attracted Persons.” That’s their way of stating that they keep their hands to themselves despite their sexual desires directed at children. Support systems have popped up for MAPs and NOMAPs, seemingly established with the intent of intervening before they can harm an innocent child and there have even been writers who had come to their defense and claimed themselves as allies to the MAP community. They want you to believe it is a mental illness.

Mental illness never has a targeted victim. Mental illness is an affliction of the sufferer wherein we do ourselves great harm. Those will mental illness do not typically seek out specifically defenseless people to harm. Do not let these sympathizers equate mental illness with child rapists- or any violent act that robs a victim of agency. Child molesters actively and covertly plot and design their heinous acts of attack. That is cunning, not mentally ill.

What absolutely blew my mind is that they were sharing their photos and discussing their fears at “outing” themselves as if they were victims of social oppression or religiously motivated constructs of unprovoked fear and hatred. I was startled at how they postured themselves in much the same way the LGBT community had as we squared off with politics and religion to earn acknowledgement, equality and pride. I was overwhelmed by a sense of indescribable dread. Here’s why…

Since the burgeoning of my own self awareness and subsequently imposed shame regarding my gender as a result of seeing anti-LGBT evangelists and politicians behind their podiums using fear tactics to influence their audiences against me, I have lived in fear of this false equivalency. They would typically say things like; “This LGBT community is the downfall of civilized society, soon they’ll be adding a ‘P’ to include and protect child rapists and other atrocious acts like bestiality!”

I remember how scared I was that anyone would ever presume I was, or would advocate for those who victimized children and animals. Still, these influencers with platforms were forming the opinions of millions that I was no different than a pedophile or a person who was sexually drawn to animals. As a Trans woman, this is ongoing, as politicians have been declaring us a threat to their wives and daughters if we want to use a public bathroom. One propaganda film from the hate group Nation For Marriage used the act of implied pedophilia to promote anti-transgender legislation.

I’ve been warning Parents I know about the uprising of MAPs, so that they can both protect their children from predators and prepare themselves for the inevitable onslaught of comparisons that will be made to the LGBT community in November by conservatives looking to be elected and the evangelists lobbying for them.

Let’s simply make this clear now. It is embarrassing that we live in an era where I must differentiate these things.

Pedophilia is NOT a sexual preference. It is not a consensual act with a mutually informed adult. Children cannot consent. Pedophiles are child rapists, full stop.

There is no such thing as a MAP. Do not normalize or sanitize child predation by allowing them the dignity of identifying themselves as anything but a sexual threat to children. They are pedophiles. Child sex offenders. There is no pathway to acceptance by using confusing/deceiving identifiers or disarming the public perception by legitimizing their crimes.

There is no relationship at all between pedophilia and gender identity or sexual orientation. Pedophilia is not a sexual orientation, despite how anti-LGBT activists will push this misleading narrative until it fits their agenda. It is a sickness that manipulates and abuses power over vulnerable children and young people who don’t understand what is happening and causes them long-term emotional distress and psychological damage.

Watch how quickly anti-LGBT lobbyists and politicians forget that the biggest pedophilia scandal came right out of the Catholic church wherein thousands of young boys were groomed, not by gay men or transgender women, but by heterosexual religious leaders who they, and their families, trusted.

Here is the bottom line, folks. In the act of sex, there should never be a victim. There should never be engagement with an entity who cannot give- regardless of reason- permission or who inherently cannot understand via means of rationale or awareness the concepts or consequences of sexual activity.

Watching self-described MAP’s discuss the day they can be “Out of the closet” has been one of the most audacious and disturbing things I have ever seen- and I’ve seen a lot. Part of me reacted impulsively, with disgust and disbelief as I flipped through their photos- some of them young, some of them old. Men and women. They looked like typical college students and every day senior citizens you might see sitting on a park bench reading a book. That alarmed me the most. We have this mythology in our minds of what a child sexual predator looks like… it wasn’t any of these people. Then it occurred to me how comfortable they’ve gotten, clearly, in order to have the confidence to share their own photos with each other so casually fearing no judgement or persecution. Utterly enabled. Making their own representative flag.

Yet, LGBT people who harm no one are trying to thrive under this oppressive administration wherein we’re thrust constantly under the foot of moral and religious justice. We transwomen are being persecuted and declared dangerous to women and young girls while these individuals who actually prey upon children with sexual intent are developing active communities and supportive encouragement?

How long before someone declares me intolerant for rejecting criminal behavior or child rapists- active or inactive. How many times have we stood to fight hate and been told “Don’t fight hate with hate” as if defending ourselves against a bile-spewing opposition is the the same thing as inciting hatred toward innocent people. I won’t allow a gaslighting here. I won’t be told that defending marginalized or voiceless communities who stand under assault and terror is reverse-hate. Children have no voice against the pedophiles who place them in their crosshairs.

Showing no tolerance for those who intend to harm children is not hateful- if that is your reaction, you need to deprogram. Your concern shouldn’t be resting on predators; Your concern should be firmly on the children whom it is our duty to protect from them.

A shocking development recently came to my attention via an investigative journalist who shared with me some of her own discoveries. She states that most self described MAPs aren’t, in fact, MAPs at all, but members of a nefarious organization of trolls from the website 4Chan who have, in the past, created and distributed fake posters targeting Oregon Pride by advertising that the organizers of the annual event were suddenly inclusive of NAMBLA- a controversial group of male pedophiles that, in reality, the LGBT community patently rejects. The goal of creating such false and misleading advertisements was specifically to discredit, or call into question the alignment of LGBT Oregonians by deceiving the general public regarding its activities and intentions.

Fake Poster created by anti-LGBT members of 4Chan implying the inclusion of pedophiles at Oregon gay pride

There is no question that it is entirely plausible that MAPs- at least the ones campaigning for visibility and inclusion so vocally online- could be shill groups intent on targeting and damaging the reputations, calling into question the ethics, and creating diversions with the goal of derailing the progressive mission of the LGBT community by feigning inclusivity beneath our umbrella. That would of course, be an ingenious way to mold external perceptions of us, even of our most staunch supporters, by slipping deceptive, toxic propaganda into the mainstream and branding it with our “Pride” message.

Yes, it’s getting more and more challenging, as LGBT people, to filter what is real and what is not. Not only are we under a barrage of attacks daily from political activists, now there are shill organizations pretending to be supporters or members of the community who are intent on maligning us from the inside with the deliberate intention of, not just discrediting LGBT people and advocacy groups, but demonizing transgender people specifically by means of association with pedophiles.

In any case, be aware that MAPs are out there, some fake with an anti-LGBT political agenda, but some, unquestionably, very, very real. 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. The best course of action for all of us is to continue unanimously rejecting it, because those who put children in danger do exist, whether “Out” or not… and that is a fact we cannot tread lightly on, but instead come down upon with a heavy fist.

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The Social and Political Shaming of Men Who Date Transgender Women Is What Is Killing Us

Fact Check: In 47 States, “Trans Panic” is an actual legal defense for a Man who murders a transgender woman after sex. The “Trans Panic” indicates that the man who committed murder experienced immediate regret for fear of being labeled gay, or fear that is sexual encounter might be disclosed, incurring public shame, humiliation among his peers and ostracizing from his family or religious affiliation. In response to the sudden onset of that shame, men have stabbed their Transgender lovers- hundreds of times. They have dismembered them, burned them, strangled them and fled the scene. Frequently, when these men are brought before a court of Justice to plea their case, they invoke the “Trans Panic” defense- which is similar to the temporary insanity plea. They claim they weren’t in their right mind, they blacked out, they have no recollection of the events that led to the murder of their partner, and in a complete abandonment of justice, these killers are often given modest sentences that, by comparison to any other individual tried for murder, amounts to little more consequence than a slap on the wrist.

Three states have banned the “Trans Panic” defense- as well as the very similar “Gay Panic” defense, which has also been invoked in state courtrooms to justify the acts of murdering gay men. Most recently, in the state of Texas where “Panic” plea is still a viable means of defense, James Miller, 69, receive 10 years probation for killing his neighbor, 32-year-old Daniel Spencer after he alleged that Spencer, a gay man, attempted to kiss him after being invited into Miller’s home. Miller was sentenced to 10 years probation, much in thanks to the “Gay panic” plea and the Judge’s bias sympathy.

The problem here is a much larger social issue that often goes unaddressed. Perhaps because it makes people uncomfortable to talk about with the frankness necessary to make it a vital national dialog. While we, as a community, mostly accept gay men and women, bisexuality, trans men and women, gender fluid folks, asexuality, queer, questioning, and a multitude of other minorities who have been ‘othered’ by man-made constructs of imposed social norms, men who date- or would date a transgender woman are stricken with a crippling fear of doing so openly due to the potential repercussions.

Our manufactured ideologies of what constitutes or qualifies one to be a “Man” has led many down a tragic path of self-hatred, excessively aggressive or dominant behaviors, emotional detachments and outwardly expressed transphobic rhetoric. We call this toxic masculinity. The damage has afflicted men for centuries and perilously inhibited their natural development, but also prevented them from embracing their sexual identity, or openly, comfortably expressing their natural preferences for what it may cost them. This is why most men, when asked if they would date a transgender woman, erupt in disgust and immediately protest, defensively asserting their heterosexuality.

That shame persists to this day. Rappers Bobby V and Scrapper were recorded by an attendee of a party where they were in the company of transgender women. The video was broadcast on websites and social media referring to the up and coming artists as “F*ggots” and mocking them. Although the videos depicted no sexual activity or even acts of affection between the artists and their guests, their career suffered irreparable damage. In a similar care, R&B artist Chingy who claims a transgender actress falsely implied that they had a sexual relationship in 2015 admitted that the accusation ruined his career also. Once the rumor gained traction, Chingy stated that record deals and endorsement offers had been rescinded, despite his maintaining that the woman in question had lied.

The world of male celebrities has seen many men become entangled in controversy when it came to their relationships or interests in Transgender women. One extremely famous A-list actor in Hollywood has maintained discreet relationships with multiple transgender women over the course of the last two decades, even caught with a transgender prostitute which he claimed he was only “offering a ride” too as a kind gesture, reassuring media outlets who inquired that he “Had no idea she was a Transgender woman.” In reality, he has not only been romantically involved with multiple transwomen, he’s also asked them to sign non-disclosure agreements or, in some cases, accept large sums of money in return for their silence given the fact that he was not only a high profile movie star, but also a married father of 9 young children. Despite his attraction to transgender women, they were never socially appropriate by Hollywood standards to ever be seen on his arm. He didn’t want to be viewed as gay, have his masculinity challenged, or pull focus from his career achievements to his sexual proclivities- and we all know that is exactly what would happen.

Men who openly date transgender women experience an incredible amount of abuse and media scrutiny, mostly to sensationalize the stories and elicit laughter at their expense. Ex-NFL star Hank Baskett was one of those men who, while married to playboy playmate and reality star Kendra Wilkinson, was outed as having an alleged extramarital affair with a transgender model he solicited on Instagram. Despite the model sharing their text conversations and audio recordings of telephone calls shared between the two, both Wilkinson and Baskett, parents of 2 young children, demonized the trans woman, dubbing her a liar and fame whore. They concocted a story that Baskett had only visited the transgender model to acquire drugs… because it’s better to elicit sympathy as a drug addicted father than be accused of having an attraction to a transgender woman. As the two are now divorcing, Wilkinsin came out to accuse him, once and for all of actually engaging in the affair she previously disputed ever happened.

Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Michael Phelps has a similar story, where he was arrested with his transgender partner for driving under the influence. After it came out that his partner that evening was transgender, the media latched onto that like a blood-sucking tick and lampooned the athlete- who never responded, but instead, almost immediately, abandoned his relationship with his transgender girlfriend- effectively ghosting her-and married an ex-Miss California Nicole Johnson, only to soon afterward welcome their first child. It felt like less a love story and more an atonement for having embarrassed his family, his team and tainted his legacy as role model for young athletes. He pretended it never happened and to this day, have never offered a confirmation or denial, but refused to speak about it altogether.

There is no question that transgender women have mostly been treated as sexual fodder for straight men. A dark, dirty secret reserved for shadowy encounters or fleeting fantasy-fulfillment rather than relationship material existing in the open, without concern of retaliatory, salacious gossip and grotesque fixation on their sex life. We, as a community, would be negligent to turn the other cheek as these men who risk persecution and blatant, unapologetic prejudice for not meeting the standard of a cisgender-centric industry regress deeper and deeper into the closet while we, as trans people, actively seek equality for ourselves.

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Justice Anthony Kennedy: Not Just Losing A Judge, We’re Losing The Balance of American Justice

In October, 2017, President Donald Trump bragged to his hyper-religious base that he would eventually be appointing four Supreme Court Justices.

In a highly controversial move that saw congress depart from tradition and reject President Barack Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland, Trump hopefuls occupying Senate seats voted to withhold the appointment of a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed in February 2016 until after the 2016 election.

Of course, Trump won, Merrick Garland was rejected by Trump who instead appointed conservative Republican Neil Gorsuch.

But, perhaps most shocking was Trump’s statements in the aftermath of that controversy as he enthusiastically declared that he would ultimately be replacing four Supreme Court Justices during his term, predicting the retirements of two women Democrat Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor, citing their health and age, he said to Axios;

Asked how he comes to that jaw-dropping number, Trump mentions the obvious: he’s already replaced Antonin Scalia with Neil Gorsuch, and there are rumors Anthony Kennedy will retire.

Ok,” one source told Trump, “so that’s two. Who are the others?

Ginsburg,” Trump replied. “What does she weigh? 60 pounds?

Who’s the fourth?” the source asked.

Sotomayor,” Trump said, referring to the relatively recently-appointed Obama justice, whose name is rarely, if ever, mentioned in speculation about the next justice to be replaced. “Her health,” Trump explained. “No good. Diabetes.

Today, as speculated, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. Kennedy was a moderate conservative who, despite his personal political leanings, voted in favor of marriage equality, affirmative action, rejected Trump’s proposed Trans Military Ban and to uphold Roe v. Wade that guarantees a Woman’s right to choose. Justice Kennedy was often the deciding vote in a divided Supreme Court, specifically on polarizing issues. He was the perfect example of what, today, is a dying breed of politician; A public servant who prioritizes people over party.

The departure of Justice Kennedy is a triumph for Trump, who had promised his radically religious base at the Value Voter’s Summit that he would rebuild the Supreme Court to serve God, not Government.

Trump fans are giddy today and Republicans are celebrating. Kennedy’s retirement paves the way to reverse the progress made by the previous administration that could result in the reversal of marriage equality, reinstate the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, overturn Roe v. Wade and expand Trump’s Muslim travel. Most cases brought before the Supreme Court in the last two years have resulted in a 5–4 vote- with Kennedy being the deciding factor. His lack of partisan rule left many of his fellow republicans and evangelical conservatives dubbing him a traitor.

Trump has sworn to replace Kennedy with another immovable conservative that will effectively put those currently sitting Justices who rule without religious bias or inherent prejudice in the minority. This means, of course, that there will no longer be a Supreme Court to intervene or altogether obstruct the wrecking ball that is the Trump administration to American liberty. He has succeeded in populating the Nation’s highest court with judges that will only find him agreeable, vote in his favor and uphold his iron-fisted dictator-like intentions- even if impulsively made on twitter in the middle of the night.

Mitch McConnell, the house Majority leader who was primarily responsible for blocking the confirmation of Obama’s 2016 appointee Merrick Garland claiming that since it was an election year, “All Americans deserved a voice” has backpeddled on that stance he took just two years ago. Now, McConnell wants the administration fast-track the confirmation of a Trump appointed Judge before Mid-term elections. Why? Our only hope in diverting this further massacre of democracy is to prevent congress from confirming Trump’s new Supreme Court Judge until after those pivotal elections.

First, however, that means democrats and independents must make their way to the polls in November with the same outrage that saw a record Republican turnout in the last Presidential election that flipped once primarily blue states, red. In order to protect their civil liberties and themselves from religious persecution, every person of color, every woman, every non-christian, every LGBT American should be waiting at the doors of their polling station with the same rebellion that Trump voters did in 2016.

This is a matter of ultimate importance that will far outlive Donald Trump, and require generations to come to suffer the consequences of a religiously motivated Supreme Court- they have no term limits. Justice Kennedy is retiring after having served 30 years in his capacity.

What kind of America do you want to see for the next 30 years?

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