“Anything” Featuring Matt Bomer As a Transgender Woman Fails to Deliver the Representation We Deserve.
Most of my reader know that I am staunchly against Cisgender actors playing Transgender roles in television and film productions. More often than not, it comes off as mockery; An actor dons a costume and parades around as a woman who has lived the Trans experiences. Most of the time, he gets showered with awards for it, and I expect Matt Bomer’s performance in “Anything” will fetch the same results come awards season.
Why? Because a Cis actor putting on Trans skin and pretending to be us is considered brave, daring and groundbreaking. But it isn’t. Anyone can put on lipstick and a dress, in fact, most men have at one point in their lives just for Halloween. The problem with Hollywood doing it over and over again (Jared Leto, Hillary Swank, Eddie Redmayne, Dakota Fanning) is that it never delivers the portrayal from an authentic emotional or psychological perspective. It’s reductive, and the Hollywood machine is so busy patting these “courageous” actors on the backs that they never see it.
While the concept of “Anything” is compelling, one cannot watch without seeing Matt Bomer playing a Transwoman, which completely breaks the immersion. Clearly, Bomer has not had any access to the lives of Trans women, thus, he is forced to make it up as he goes along, trying to play a character rather than portray a figure who life experiences has shaped them as a Transgender individual. Beyond that, seeing a cis Man, like Bomer, who can wipe off the makeup, go home to his family and leave it all behind because being Trans for 6 months was just his job is an insult to the actual brave men and women who walk out of their house into the hellish streets of prejudice and judgement every single day. They do not have the privilege of taking off their identity and resuming a “normal” life.
An actors job is to pull from something they know… an emotion or an experience they are intimate with, some comparable to manifest a relationship with the character they are portraying so they can do it convincingly and with dignity. You revisit uncomfortable events in your life to bring a real response to the surface of your performance. Bomer lacks that, as did Redmayne, Leto, Felicity Huffman in TransAmerica, and Hillary swank. None of these actors had ever faced the very real, incredibly damaging struggle of dealing with and accepting a gender identity that departs from social acceptability. With respect to that, it inevitably falls into a sort of circus performance, where they’re the proverbial clown, drawing emotions on their face instead of feeling them- or making their audience feel them.
The film by Sean Baker, 2015’s critical darling, Tangerine, was an enormous success because it starred two transgender women actually playing transgender characters. They had an entire history of substantial experiences to pull from in order to give a sense of realism that cannot be achieved by a cis actor portraying a Trans woman.
Why do we accept this as normal. Why is it so outlandish to consider casting an actual Transgender woman to play a character she is made to play. Isn’t that exactly what casting directors actively seek when filling roles in major films? Someone who bring a specific realism to the performance without it being denigrated to pantomime. Did anyone ask Bomer if he’s ever been called a “Tra**y?” or if he’d ever been beaten up, verbally attacked, laughed at on the bus, harassed at school or work for being a Trans woman? No. Because it’s never happened to him. He may be a fine actor, but casting him in this role when there is an entire menagerie of qualified Transgender actresses who could have given us genuine responses and provoked authentic reactions seems like nothing more than thinly veiled prejudice in itself.
I want to cry because I believe it happened; Laugh because I’m happy to see a disenfranchised individual have their burden lifted, even if just for a moment; Champion them because they’ve found love, against the odds, with someone who isn’t fetishising them. I want to feel the character is tangible, not giving me a modern version of blackface.
Why is this such a monumental task? What exactly is wrong with casting Trans individuals in roles suited for them instead of seeking out some “It” boy or the latest heartthrob. I must mention that Bomer is, actually, a gay man, which makes his portrayal even worse. That this casting director was willing to overlook hundreds of Trans women and cast a gay man in a female role is not just offensive, but it’s obscene because it demonstrates a willingness to include gay people in their elite fold, but continue the practices of alienating Trans performers.
Here’s the thing- Trans women and men both young and old deserve to be accurately represented on-screen. We deserve to have a public presence where we are provided beacons of hope, enlightenment, and we have the right to be given our own screen idols. Glossing over the Trans existences in favor of a makeshift one by proxy of some cis actor is repeated negligence and a deliberate slap in the face to the entire Trans community. We’re asking for representation and visibility in media.
Pardon me for being absolutely, excusably crude, but, you know what’s stupid?
That I have to keep writing these essays. That you have to keep reading about the rights of LGBT Americans being threatened every day. That we’re being banned, terms that define us erased, and while lawmakers wage an outright war against Transgender men and women across the America, from sea to shining sea, we have to keep reminding each other we’ll be okay.
We have to write inspirational quips about pushing forward, organizing to influence chance, usurping the evangelical Christians holding our nation hostage- and by that, I don’t mean placing a ransom on it, but instead, severing us from our rights, our dignities and our ability to function in greater society, just like everyone else who is fortunate enough to fall within the gold standard of desirability. And we just watch it get worse.
Let’s be honest, currently we have very few politicians fighting for our right to exist. While Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both now relegated to delivering meme-worthy quotes off hallmark cards on twitter and facebook, could have represented us, they didn’t. While their agenda may not be “Make America White again, Christian again, straight again, cisgender again, male dominated again” they’re not bothering to say, “Let the Transgender people live their lives according to the rights and privileges we all do.” The cacophony of voices in the opposition is far louder than any support in this administration.
I’m still not quite certain what disjointed reality I’ve slipped into where someone with at least a thread of moral fiber remaining doesn’t stop cold in their tracks and says “Whoa! Wait a minute, this doesn’t sound right. This doesn’t sound fair. This doesn’t sound American. Why aren’t Transgender people entitled to the American Dream…” whatever that was. In the bellows of opposition coming from the parapets of power, it seems like we’re the only ones returning fire. From the ground.
People love to use the old argument “If you want change, go vote.” Well, when even that’s compromised, which 17 intelligence agencies determined it was, how do we continue to vote with confidence. In the upcoming midterms, I’m delighted to announce that there are a multitude of LGBT people running for seats in both local and state political races. Recently a couple of Transwomen won a seat, usurping the conservative Republicans in a district Trump had won previously by over 20 points. There’s reason for optimism… but complacency is what led us here, and we cannot fall victim to that again.
Personally, I don’t want to spend another three years writing about the senseless killings of Trans women of color, or more young Trans kids committing suicide, or new laws being passed that segregate us from the “normal” majority, or bemoaning the fact that we’re being systematically excluded from every major national debate- even the 2020 census proposes to erase us from society.
This isn’t a debate anymore, where two sides deliberate the pros and cons of domestic issues. This is a radical attack on a segment of the population that is being threatened with each new state bill or ominous 4 am tweet. This isn’t a conversation where we sit down and present our case- we’re not given a voice, no one is volunteering to be one on the senate floors, thus, we have no defense. So we keep rallying, marching, holding each other up during the darkest of days, and demonstrating solidarity when the goal, clearly, is to divide us.
How many of you are tired of hearing it? Are you exhausted yet? Do you feel like you’re living in some bizarre episode of Black Mirror or the victim of an epic prank where any minute Ashton Kutcher is going to pop up from behind the desk in the oval office and gleefully announce, “You’ve been Punk’d?”
We’ve come to the point where delivering counter points- reinforcing what is right instead of wrong and attempting to inject logic and rational is futile. It doesn’t exist on the other side. We’re attempting to reason with insanity, and that’s a battle that is never won. They stick their fingers in their ears, holler something about Jesus and pedophiles and men wearing dresses to rape little girls, and nothing to the contrary is received. We must accept that our opposition, all of them, from government leaders to Radfem’s and TERFs, to religious zealots and conservatives, live in their own little Trans-exclusionary world. The President himself has given them permission. Their resistance to the outside reality which consists of people not like them; A bunch of manufactured villains and deviants, is encouraged by those in power positions.
When we speak, it is without a doubt, to ourselves. We’re doing the whole “Preaching to the choir” song and dance. Anyone who stumbles upon my articles that isn’t one of us has taken the liberty to look me up on facebook, sending me hilariously threatening messages, call me a “Fa**ot in women’s clothes” or even something called a INCEL- which I had to google, I confess, but it means to be “involuntarily celibate”, a person (usually male) who has a horrible personality and treats women like sexual objects and thinks his lack of a sex life comes from being “ugly” when its really just his blatant sexism and terrible attitude. That gave me a good laugh. It was from a woman. A lesbian who finds that my being Transgender is an expression of “Lesbophobia.” I admit that I find it odd that people I readily ally with when they find themselves on the receiving end of oppression would so quickly, and unabashedly, turn on me.
I’ve campaigned against homophobia for years; Against Kim Davis, who refused to offer same sex couples marriage licenses. I spoke out vehemently against the bakery that refused to bake a cake for a loving lesbian couple. I’ve championed the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” I’ve marched for women’s rights to their own choices, and equal pay for equal work- and suffice it to say, the women I regard as my parents are an older lesbian couple. So, to find myself on the end of the proverbial knife of Radfems was interesting, to say the least. Yet, they are just one of the sects who rally against the inclusion and normalizing of Transgender women- they’re at least more forgiving to Trans men, who they just perceive as women that we have seduced and brainwashed into out collective, still denying them any ownership of their gender identity… in fact, refuting it altogether, but with some semblance of sympathy.
Trans women, on the other hand, are the epitome of evil in their world. We are the antagonist in their narrative wherein they play the hero hellbent on stopping us from…
…From what, exactly? From being happy? Enjoying our lives? Moving through society without judgmental stares and hostile remarks on our appearance, uninvited commentary or blatant disapproval?
It makes no sense. None. And no matter how any times you engage, you soon find yourself going in circles and falling into the mouth of madness. To keep negotiating at a table where you sit alone, abandoned by the other party who has made up their mind, is self defeating.
Where is her power? She was rendered powerless in life, and no one beyond her own community cared about her until she was number X… they’re counting us now, our deaths, and then asking the murder victims to rest in power. I can’t think of anything more condescending or insulting than to be a disenfranchised minority, robbed of my voice, attacked by my government, ridiculed by my peers and then told to rest in power. What power has she got now, pray tell, that she didn’t have before, because she wasn’t allowed it?
I’ve had a few readers refer to me as a pessimist. I reject that term. I’m a realist. It does no one any favors to delude ourselves, or lull ourselves into a false sense of security. Maybe we shouldn’t be distracted by our intention to deliver our message to the masses softly. I’m not worried about ruffling feathers.
That this is 2018, and we’re still leaving letters, posts, editorials, essays, social media statuses pleading for our right to exist without retribution is exactly what I deemed it at the beginning of this article; Stupid.
Stupid is an ugly word, but I’m pretty immune to ugly words nowadays.
But, most importantly, I want to leave you with this; While it is, indeed, stupid, it’s necessary. More so than ever. We have to keep talking. We have to keep building this legacy, documenting this history of a place and time of what we’ve endured so that the children of tomorrow will know, and they might appreciate the gravity of the injustices committed against Trans people…
… and while the fight is arduous, the arguments repetitive, the logic falling on deaf ears over and over again in favor of a self-manifested hatred toward us, it is these words, and our stories, that will prevent history from repeating itself.
So I fully intend to keep doing what I’m doing, as stupid and redundant as it feels as I roll my eyes and find myself saying the same things again as if, maybe, one time it will hit a soft spot in the brain of a bigot and shake them from their lofty tower. It’s not likely, and I get that. That’s why some think it’s pointless.
And if you’re one of those people who anxiously surf the web or wait with bated breath over the next photo of a famous woman’s bulging belly, you are too.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the strange one who finds it bizarre that paparazzi send up drones armed with high definition cameras and storm the beaches on Malibu in hopes of catching some pregnant woman with a bulbous bare midriff. There’s a disturbing aspect to the pursuit and, what I can only describe as fetishist behavior toward pregnant women.
It’s a relatively new thing, this tabloid phenomenon of capturing future mothers while in full blossom. The headlines scream from the front covers of supermarket magazines; “Khloe Kardashian unveils baby bump in revealing dress!” “Cardi B. puts baby bump on display during Saturday Night Live performance,” “Beyonce debuts belly full of babies while shopping in Beverly Hills.” And I can’t help but stop and think to myself… Why?
It’s happened to virtually every pregnant celebrity in the last ten years, from Princess Kate Middleton, to Blac Chyna, Drew Barrymore, Natalie Portman, Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie and countless others who are expecting. The typically modest Anne Hathaway beat nosy photographers to the punch after she caught them hiding in the bushes as she basked in the sun on an Australian beach by posting her own baby bump picture on Instagram to thwart paparazzi intent on selling them to the highest bidder.
She captioned her Instagram post:
“So, posting a bikini pic is a little out of character for me, but just now while I was at the beach I noticed I was being photographed, I figure if this kind of photo is going to be out in the world it should at least be an image that makes me happy (and be one that was taken with my consent. And with a filter :)”- Anne Hathaway
When did it become normal for expectant public figures to have to run, dodge or outsmart the media who are intent on, not only invading their privacy, but encroaching upon a woman’s very private, personal and intimate experience of pregnancy? When did the public become so fascinated by the concept of a pregnant celebrity who is showing that they devote entire websites to “Bump sightings?” These sites are absolutely loaded with archives of celebrities with exposed, bulging abdomens in candid, often unanticipated photos.
My opinion may be largely unpopular considering the infinite number of google results that return when searching “Bump watch.” I must be in a minority given that I don’t find these images at all entertaining or extraordinarily fascinating. The fact is, women get pregnant all the time. For them, justifiably, it’s a monumental, family event that they’re under no obligation to share with the rest of the world. More concerning is the throngs of people who salivate over them.
Gone are the days where we respected the fragility of heavily pregnant women who were once entitled to experience the journey of motherhood with their dignity in tact. Whereas, once before, it was considered inappropriate to even touch a woman’s belly without consent, now the media is photographing them in various states of undress as they sunbathe or take a holiday stroll, completely unaware of the shutterbugs leering from the shadows to capture their distended tummy- which is accompanied by derogatory stories remarking on it’s size, the stretchmarks, and even debating the state of their term. It’s become the new virtual sport in Hollywood, and more than a little cringe-worthy.
It goes well beyond the polite “congratulations” or the delivery of a basket of flowers. Now it’s a full on race for paparazzi to capture images of a woman showing evidence of pregnancy- and sometimes, that’s not even the case. For example, in the last six years, Jennifer Aniston has been rumored to be pregnant more than 40 times. Yes, you read that right. 40 times. Even making national headlines.
Imagine how humiliating it might be if, say, Aniston, who has never been pregnant, struggled with fertility issues, but was subjected to these relentless headlines.
Ultimately, this is about respect. Respect of a woman’s right to experience the exciting adventure of pregnancy without being under the microscope of the public ohh’ing and ahh’ing over her stomach like it’s the first one they’ve ever seen. More than that, it’s about allowing women the opportunity to disclose their pregnancy when they chose to. And if they’re not pregnant at all because of a personal medical issue, then it’s an outright shaming of them for not being able to satiate this odd obsession people have with pregnant celebrities.
Perez Hilton, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira, rose to fame in the early 2000’s as one of the first internet celebrity gossip bloggers. His cut-throat approach to revealing some of Hollywood elites most guarded secrets didn’t just make his famous; It made him infamous. He was both at once loathed by industry insiders and loved by gossip hounds who coveted the fact that the rich and famous were just as messy and ridiculous as the rest of us.
By no means a professional journalist, Hilton created an empire as a celebrity chasing fanboy who notoriously outed Lance Bass months before he revealed he was gay; posted x-rated photos of screenwriter Dustin Lance Black in a series of compromising situations with another man, made fun of Rumor Willis, daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis and ultimately made a career of dishing salacious secrets and humiliating the subjects of his blog posts. No one was spared from the ire of Hilton, not even the children of the celebrities that he eviscerated in his missives. Early in his career, he was, himself famous for drawing penis doodles on the faces of those he wrote about. After being labeled a bully, Hilton, who is a gay man, suddenly found himself being unanimously rejected by even his most devout readers due to his unapologetic pursuit of humiliating famous people by either outing them, accusing them of being gay or subtly implying they were. As the backlash ensued, Hilton decided it was time to grow up, declared himself a “changed man” and announced he would stop outing and shaming celebrities for, well, being human.
“In talking about all these gay teens who had committed suicide a lot of people started to call me a hypocrite and a bully, and it got to a point where a majority of people thought that. It was life-changing. I had kept telling myself that I was just talking about celebrities and I didn’t feel bad because they were rich and famous and knew what they were signing up for.
But I was being really nasty to these people and they are human, and some people might have got the message that it’s OK to behave in the same way. I deluded myself.” — Perez Hilton
Perhaps, part of this change was influenced by that fact that Hilton had become a father, which suddenly thrust him under the same knife of celebrity scrutiny he had exposed others to. Many speculated on his emotional stability, his moral compass, and whether or not he was fit to raise a child. Suffice it to say, none of the tabloid ramblings had any more merit that Hilton’s own, years long, dissection of the personal lives of others. In retrospect, it was a sort of karmic justice.
In 2015, he appeared on the UK television staple, Celebrity Big Brother is which he donned a pair of speedos, humped windows, bragged about the size of his manhood, wept uncontrollably and told a fellow house guest “If I was your child I’d kill myself.” During his stint on the widely watched reality show, his antics were so controversial that it left audiences wondering how this man took care of himself, much less an infant child.
Here we are now and Hilton has added two more daughters to his brood via surrogate, and while his online persona has been substantially tamed (No more penis doodles.) he has continued to make a spectacle of himself at every opportunity.
Last week, Hilton shockingly stated on his podcast that he would not allow his five year old son to take dance classes for fear it would “Make him gay.”
As a gay man himself, I am in awe of the fact that Hilton believes that any outside influence can make someone gay. It feels reductive to have to reiterate this, as science has done a much better job over the last two decades than I can now, but I will anyway; You can’t be made gay, Perez. And if you’re gay, you can’t be made straight. It’s embarrassing you have to be told this.
For a moment, though, let’s set that blatant stupidity aside.
As a Trans woman, life has not been a walk in the park. The resistance the LGBT community (As well as people of color) have experienced has been amplified just because of who we are, what we look like, how we dress, talk, walk and who we keep the company of. We have arrows of hatred shot at us from the parapets of elitism coming from every direction; From the president, from school teachers, from conservatives, from religious zealots, from alt-right fanatics, from lawmakers, from anonymous bullies on social media and the general public. The media mocks us, makes crude jokes at our expense and the subject of our gender identities or respective sexuality becomes tabloid fodder- something Hilton is intimately familiar with having been guilty of it himself.
Yet, is it really wrong to hope that your child isn’t subjected to that? I recall being seventeen years old and accompanying a dear friend of mine who decided to come out to their Mother as a gay man. I stood by his side as he confessed that he was terrified he was going to disappoint her, but he needed to be open and honest with her in order to move forward. He told her he hoped one day to meet the love of his life- and that could only be achieved, by his very nature, with another man.
She cried. She sobbed. She snotted into a box of kleenex as he apologized profusely until she took his hand, looked him in the eye and said words I’ll never forget:
“I don’t care if you’re gay. That doesn’t bother me or make me think less of you or disappoint me because my love for you isn’t measured by who you love. But I’m so scared that the world out there will ruin you. I’m crying because I know that there are so many people who will never give themselves the chance to know you; to see how truly wonderful you are and what a kind soul you have because they will not look beyond who you love. You deserve so much more; So much better.”
I understood. But, that factor alone is what makes coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender such an enormous obstacle- and why our disclosure can fetch such an emotional response from those who love us. While there are instances where pure ignorance can result in our ostracization from family and peer groups, sometimes the tears aren’t ones of absolute rejection, but of a keen awareness of the obstacles we will inevitably be faced with; The trials we will endure, for no valid reason other than the bigotry of others.
In a follow up video to his statements, which were met with outrage from the LGBT community and our allies, Hilton did his best to clarify, albeit clumsily and without much tact. Yet, the nucleus of his explanation, which could have been easily lost between the misinformed hyperbole of claiming “50% of dancers are gay,” and how instead he signed his son up for tennis lessons to reinforce heterosexual tendancies, was this; “I want him to have an easier life than I had.”
To be completely fair, being the son of a man who has made a career of publicly naming and shaming people- and even paying physical consequences for it, like getting punched in the face by Will.i.Am. after calling the rapper a fa**ot, isn’t exactly the best first foot to step out on as a child embarks on this oftentimes treacherous life journey. I was surprised to see Hilton wasn’t more concerned that his past exploits would come back to haunt his children, instead of worrying about their, as of yet, unexpressed sexuality.
As a parent, I think it’s fair to give Hilton breathing room when expressing his hope that his children are straight, especially because of how intimate he is with the persecution of gay men, being one himself. Of course, I’d be negligent if I didn’t mention the hostile climate our government has fostered toward LGBT Americans, and in other countries, gay men are being rounded up like wild animals and executed. Violence toward the LGBT community is at a record high as our President appeals to the rage of his fanbase, even giving them special rights to discriminate against us by explicitly removing the laws intended to protect us. As we’ve all witnessed our community subjected to state-sanctioned neglect, we’ve spiraled into a dystopian nightmare where everything we knew to be wrong is suddenly accepted as right and good.
Hilton made clear that, even should his son determine that he is gay, he would still love and support him unconditionally.
That’s more than I can say for most parents of LGBT children.
That was my first mistake. As an avid animal lover and activist for the humane treatment of all creatures great and small, one particularly lonely but well-intended evening I decided that I should buy rare chicken eggs and help propagate the species to ensure their survival.
It sounds noble enough, right? After all, I had just purchased a five acre farmhouse on the lake and thought I could give my soon-to-be fledgling birds the perfect home where they could roam wild and carefree. I’ve always loved animals. Even in my small, one bedroom apartment I raised nests of wild bunnies, orphaned ducklings, rescued and re-homed dozens of kittens and even a bird or two. I guess my faithful companion, a three-legged Dog named Tutu and I made what one might equate to an animal ambulance.
That’s when I thought it would be marvelous to spend a ridiculous sum of money on some of the rarest fertilized chicken eggs on ebay at three in the morning after consuming a liberal amount of a box of Franzia red wine. Chilled, of course. Historically, I make my best choices after midnight. At least they seem brilliant and exciting at the time. In reality, all it did was earn me my Masters in poor life decisions.
The eggs arrived. They hatched. And most of them were roosters. They were the cutest little bundles of fur I’d ever seen. I’d given them endearing names and kept them in a rubbermaid basket beside my bed. I became the vigilant mother to my flock of featherballs, and as they grew, they became like family.
And like family, and true to the nature of roosters, they eventually turned on each other, exerting dominance in the pecking order no matter how I urged them to mind their manners and be gentlemen. Ultimately, I had to separate the weaker ones from the smaller.
My partner built a spacious, rather luxurious coop in the back yard that rivaled Fort Knox. An absolute necessity as I soon found out, given that once we transitioned from the city to the country, that creatures of all sorts descended from the swampy woods on their nightly hunt for food, and my chickens were their prime meal. My back yard was like Frickers to the wild nocturnal beasts that stalked through my dark back yard.
Imagine this, if you will. I grew up in something of a bubble. Suffice it to say, I’m a perky idiot, devoid of the realities of nature. I can’t even watch National Geographic without covering my eyes when a hungry lion takes down an innocent Gazelle who was just lounging around chewing cud enjoying the afternoon sun. Inside, I’m a devout city girl; A nightlife performer, a social butterfly who’d been whisked past long lines and escorted into New York Cities most trendy clubs. Believe it or not, I loathed the idea of the great outdoors and believed that camping was something mostly reserved for the masculine sort who belonged to the NRA and enjoyed peeing outside. I suppose, naively, that I envisioned living in the country- not in a shack or camouflage hunting blind- but a proper house, would be somewhat magical. Like a Disney princess, little bluebirds and crafty field mice would flutter around my head and sew me the prettiest of silken fineries from vines and flower petals. That’s how it worked for Snow White and Cinderella anyway. I am, after all, as close as one can get to a princess. I’m a Drag Queen, a Trans woman, which by today’s standards is pretty much a Unicorn.
I never imagined the country life would be my waking nightmare. Hostile and unforgiving. Many of my beloved chickens were murdered by raccoons. I’d come home from an evening out to find fuzzy corpses strewn across the backyard like something out of an 80’s horror flick and to say it traumatized me is an understatement. I became paranoid, staying up until daybreak for over a year, listening intently for the any chirp or caw that could be perceived as distress call. I bought a pink BB gun, and even if I thought I heard something unusual, tore out the door into the back yard like I was Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Thankfully, the new coop prevented any further massacres. It took a heavy toll on my mental state. I had gone from rescuer of little creatures to a warden in a chicken penitentiary, ready to fire BB’s from my Barbie BB Gun at anything that moved in the shadowy brush.
An army of Raccoons… that’s what found me. I’m not exaggerating. My remote country house which should have been the epitome of an English paradise came under attack by dozens of black-eyed, bloodthirsty bandits. I’d walk out my front door and they’d be hovering in my trees above my porch. I’d look out my window and see them marching around the perimeters of my coop looking for any vulnerability in it’s construction. I began to despise them for wanting to kill off the rest of my poor, defenseless Roosters. I found myself doing my own security checks, ditching my high heels for a pair of knee high rubber galoshes- that were camouflage- and stomping through my yard at all hours of the night with by trusty pellet gun. I never had to use it, however. I don’t know that I could have. It just isn’t in my nature to hurt something even in self defense, but I did plenty of screaming and cussing to chase things back into the woods; Not just raccoons, but possums, skunks, foxes, minks and one summer evening, even a small pack of coyotes. I won’t lie… I didn’t approach the coyotes when they wandered into my yard, but I did get into my car and blow the horn for a solid five minutes while screaming expletives out the window.
I began setting humane traps in the summer — of course humane traps because, as I said, I cannot kill anything. The summer of 2016, my partner and I hauled off over 40 raccoons that came near the coop. I transported them miles away to a wildlife refuge. During the drive, sometimes multiple trips per night in the wee small hours, I sternly lectured each one. Finally, we seemed to make a dent in their numbers. Good. I’d come to despise them, no matter how cute their little button noses and precious their vocal chirps and chortles. I was now a hardened raccoon bigot.
But, I imagine my remaining roosters were irreparably damaged, mentally. They hated me. When I’d go out in the morning to let them free range, they’d attack me. They’d chase me back into my house, crowing like some kind of violent war cry. I understood. They’d seen most of their brothers and sisters fall victim to savage, brutal murder… and I was supposed to be their great protector, their Mom who raised them from little yolks, and I failed them.
My partner, who worked from sun up until sun down, didn’t believe the trials I’d go through each day in order to feed them and let them out to play in the grassy field, so one day, I recorded it. I propped up the camera on the porch and went to the coop to let them out for their morning escapade. Sure enough, like a gang of crips whose territory I’d invaded, they attacked me, gouging my legs with their sharp talons.
I uploaded it to youtube with the title “My Chickens Attack Me” expecting that others who might be self described Divas found themselves suddenly at the mercy of nature might have sympathy. That was one million views ago.
I never expected the chaos that would ensue. The Daily Mail took screenshots of me with my face drawn back and contorted with fear as I braced myself from each attack. Completely unflattering for a selfie Queen like myself, but there I was. Not exactly the form of celebrity I imagined. I certainly was no Kim Kardashian, breaking the internet with my unbridled sexual prowess. Instead of shooting champagne from a bottle into a cup propped up on my ass, I was getting it kicked by angry roosters.
The comments weren’t encouraging. “Woman takes on Two Black Cocks,” seemed to be the most popular, if not altogether uninspired joke. As anonymous denizens of the internet scoured the rest of the videos on my youtube channel realized I was a Trans woman and comedian, the commentary became more harsh and predictably cruel. Not just about me, but my beloved chickens as well. People suggested I kill them, snap their necks, beat them with a baseball bat.
Others said they hated me because of my hair, which, gathered in a bun atop my head, could have been mistaken for a sexually eager whore of a hen. I was called names I had to google. I was made fun of for everything from my clothes to the swishiness of my walk. I never knew I swished. Why did no one ever tell me I swished? Investigative users who perused my other videos were provided endless ammunition for the compulsory cock jokes. Often I would sit there reading the comments with my jaw on the floor, completely in awe of the venom that spewed forth like geyser of pure hatred… from complete strangers with anonymous accounts.
If one thing good came from the experience of being the subject of a viral video, I developed a much thicker skin and learned to laugh at- and actually appreciate the occasional clever insult.
The following summer, we felt it was appropriate to intercept the inevitable raccoon invasion that was sure to befall us. Before the end of spring we transported 20 raccoons to safe spaces… but as luck would have it, there was one thing I failed to take into consideration on my mission to protect my chickens from the persistence of the raccoon clans.
As I sat dragging my garbage to the curbside early one morning, I saw a small, wobbly critter rooting through the grass, no bigger than a kitten. As I approached it, I realized it was my worst enemy. A Raccoon.
A baby to young to be away from it’s mother… And he wasn’t happy.
I stood there in disbelief. Then went to get my phone to record it, just in case it attacked me so the police would have video evidence of my final moments. I was certain this was an act of revenge. As I slowly approached him, camera in hand, I had an epiphany… much to my own horror, it occurred to me that its mother must have been one of the many I had hauled off in the middle of the night. It was alone, and surely would starve. I wrapped him up in my coat, talking to him in a comforting voice.
Yes, you guys. I talked to him. I was taken to task for talking to the Raccoon. “You dumb B*tch, you expect he’s going to answer you?” quipped one commenter. He, along with many others thought my conversation with a Raccoon was absolutely absurd. Maybe it was. I confess, I am absurd. I also have daily conversations with my dog and all seven of my cats. I’d only worry for my sanity if they answered, alas, that hasn’t happened yet, but I digress.
However, I brought the Raccoon into my home- the offspring of my adversary. The son of my nemesis. And, well…
…We became friends. I bottle fed him. He waddled around and played with my cats and adopted one of their toys which he slept with as he curled up in a clothes hamper for a nap. In a weird twist of events, I’d become the parent to an orphan whose family I had robbed him of.
He stayed with me until he was weened from a bottle. He grew stronger each day and loved to be cuddled, often nuzzling himself under my chin. As he grew, I located a wonderful wildlife rehabilitation home that would help him develop the skills required to eventually return to the wild. As it happens, the wildlife nurse who took him in was simultaneously caring for other orphaned Raccoons. So, my little bandit baby found a family like him after all. At my request, his carer sent me photos often to update me on his progress.
After nearly six months, the time had come to let him live the life of a proper wild raccoon. He, along with his adopted sister, were set free together at a wildlife reserve. We escorted them deep within the woods, me, my partner and their carer, and we bid them a fond, if not emotional farewell.
It wasn’t long afterward that the internet found the video of that fateful day I met this beautiful little furbaby and, similarly to the chicken experience that I documented for my partner- and apparently half the world, the video of my first encounter with the baby Raccoon was soon seen by over a million people. Most of who made fun of my voice. But by then, I was immune to the contentious remarks and instead found them quite amusing, which eventually waned into indifference. As a minority, I’ve heard worse from better people. Offensive efforts aren’t genuinely offensive to me these days; They sort of roll off, like water off a ducks back.
And speaking of poultry, just when I thought my adventures in the wild had come to an end and the only real struggle remaining was the fist-sized mosquitoes that lunged at me in swarms every time I stepped out my front door past sundown, another wild animal from- actually I have no idea where they come from, they just show up- decided to attack me while I sat in my car on my way to an appointment. I was late. This is why.
I didn’t realize he was sitting on the other side of my car when I got in and started the engine, but he quickly ran around the vehicle to see what the hell I thought I was doing. For what it’s worth, I talked to the turkey, too. Regardless, this turkey was soon distracted and I became irrelevant as he fell madly in love with his reflection in my hubcap. I never know what to expect from the moment I step out my door anymore, but I’ve documented my Transgender, Drag Queen farmer adventures on youtube. I realize that I’m a fish out of water trying to muddle through this quirky country life that I fell into like a sinkhole- and that it’s having a laugh while it has it’s way with me.
So are the good internet citizens on youtube. I don’t read the comments anymore.
And they’re lucky I don’t. I still have that pink barbie BB gun.
As a trans woman myself, it’s something that I’ve had multiple conversations about with friends in my community. There have been instances whereupon, once a Transgender woman goes through the complete process of facial feminization, breast augmentation, body shaping and genital reconstruction, they manage to seamlessly mesh into mainstream society without a backward glance. It isn’t unusual for those of us, once friends, to witness them acquire a new circle of cishet friends, frequent straight clubs and do the things most of us would, in fact, like to do, but with less resistance.
And good for them. Doesn’t that essentially summarize the general goal of most Trans women? We don’t want to stand apart from the rest, or worse yet, be singled out for discrimination. And dating? Well, that becomes an obstacle course of fear and anxiety that rivals any theme park roller coaster. We never know when it’s safe to open our eyes or when to expect the downward spiral. As soon as we muster enough confidence in our journey with a partner, the bottom can drop out at any minute. The very anticipation of this can be soul-gnawing. No one really wants to have that “disclosure” conversation with someone they’d like to keep. A Trans woman, sadly, has to acknowledge with herself that she may be providing them a reason to abandon her, regardless of the bond they’ve developed. It’s a degree of emotional discord that few can appreciate, much less will they ever experience.
We’d rather not have to discuss our private parts with prospective partners… or doctors, or work-out buddies who wonder why we don’t undress in the locker room, or somersault over those pestering questions as to why we won’t don that fashionable bikini at the beach. If anything, we want to blend, unrestricted, without the obstacles most of us face with obnoxious stares, inflammatory remarks on our appearance or be the unwitting target of hate-motivated violence.
“I just want to be viewed as woman. I am just a woman.” One friend, a well respected businesswoman, told me while we discussed the topic over a casual Facebook chat. “I don’t want to be a spokesperson, a figurehead, an activist, a person referred to as ‘That Trans girl’ by my colleagues, employers or mainstream society. I don’t want to build my brand exclusively on the fact that I’m Trans.”
I asked her if she thought that by doing so, she could help increase Trans visibility, ultimately normalizing Trans women as part of our collective culture instead of a side-culture unto their own.
“I just want to stealth through, go about my life, date, work, marry, buy a house. I should be able to do that. We all should. There will be people who label me as transphobic because I don’t want to carry that banner over my head and invite the struggle. I love my Trans sisters. I’m not turning my back on them. I’m not ashamed of my journey, but I don’t want to be defined by it or conduct myself in a manner that is inherently separatist from everyone else. I worked too hard to get here.” She says.
And she’s right. To a degree, I completely understand where she’s coming from. It would be nice to remove the label “Transgender” from our orbit. The majority of society doesn’t see Trans identifying people as “just like everyobody else.” Unconsciously, in most cases, their focus gravitates toward our surgeries, our genitalia, our sexual proclivities and they find themselves closely examining us from head to toe, looking for any sign, any give-away; The stubble on our face or a pronounced adam’s apple. They listen closely to the tone of our voice, look for hair on our hands… It’s not malicious, but instead almost a passive effort to unravel our mystery and, for their own satisfaction, determine our gender on their own, as if they’ve solved a great puzzle. “Ah ha! There’s the male.”
We’ve all heard it at one time or another- at least I have. “You don’t look like a man.” or “I wouldn’t have guessed until got a closer look.” Some Trans women don’t even have the privilege of ignorant subtleties undermining their gender identity. This leads us to the toxic, demoralizing requisite many Trans women and men feel an urgency to pursue; passability. It’s to avoid judgmental stares and the frequency of being misgendered, often deliberately by the waiter serving them lunch or the clerk at the local convenience store. Despite how they present physically, they find themselves constantly addressed by the wrong pronoun. It knocks the wind from their sails, destroys their confidence and results in them searching for the nearest hole to take refuge in, reeling from the crippling fear and heartbreak that they’ll never fit the gender role they wish to inhabit and will always face resistance or rejection.
I’m going to take this opportunity to extend tremendous respect and admiration for the Trans women and men whose paths have been excessively burdened by male/female dominated features. Sometimes their shoulders are too broad. Sometimes their hair is too thick. Something their jawline is too strong or their voice to deep. In other cases they’re very tall, making clothing hard to find. For the case of Trans men, they have to bind their breasts, and hope that no one challenges their soft features or diminutive build.
I cannot dismiss my privilege in passing- a word I loathe- instead we’ll say navigating binary situations with greater ease. Any one of us fortunate enough to have this privilege should consider ourselves possessing a distinct advantage that some of our sisters and brothers do not have, and it’s hugely inappropriate to turn our backs on them while we enjoy the embrace of social norms. Regardless of how convincingly a woman or man passes from the gaze of the general public, they are still our sisters and brothers. They should not be left behind.
Unquestionably, it is these trans people challenging- shattering- the constructs and stereotypes of what defines a woman or a man. They persist, despite the impedance of others who see the world as black and white or indisputably, what constitutes an authentic man or a woman. They are the real heroes of the gender revolution, but the toll taken on them, both emotionally and psychologically, is amplified by comparison to what we experience. These women and men need our support, and more importantly need to be counted among our ranks, just as important with identities just as valid.
So, I ask, do Trans women who spend countless sums of money to align their bodies with their gender identity leave the rest of us behind. Once they’ve freed themselves from the shackles of an ambiguous gender, shedding their old skin and all the burdens along with it that we bare socially as Trans people, do they dance off into the sunset and forget the rest of us exist now that they’re perceived as “normal?”
Last year I met a fully transitioned Trans woman in a group I belonged to. She was a successful, incredibly intelligent and beautiful individual who was, without a doubt, climbing the ladder in her industry. We developed an acquaintanceship that I thought might turn into a friendship, but it didn’t. While I tried to open a dialogue with her on multiple occasions, her responses were brief and formal- if she bothered answering at all. Given we were the only two Trans people in the group, I was keenly aware that her behavior clearly demonstrated a vested effort in avoiding any public interaction with me while, instead, she carried on extensive conversations with cisgender women, flirted with men, played practical jokes on her cis friends and altogether dismissed my presence, even when I tried to ingratiate myself into the social activities.Was it a matter of “I’m not like her anymore, I’m a real woman.” Maybe she just didn’t like me, which is altogether possible, or perhaps I represented an association that brought down her status as an accepted woman and popular figure in her peer group. A peer group I struggled to develop relationships within because, me being an outspoken, proud Trans woman often left them uncomfortable- especially the male subset. Maybe they were afraid I was some tyrannical activist baiting them into offending me, or waiting to pounce, rip off their clothes, and molest them if they dared express the most remote gesture of kindness. My acquaintance, however, didn’t have to worry about that. In contrast, her traditional male/female interactions were welcomed. They laughed at her jokes, made innocuous innuendo and treated her like- well- men treat women. It could be that by associating with me, it served as an unwelcome reminder to those whose company she enjoyed what she used to be.
She knew that I was a staunch supporter of Trans rights; Of LGBT equality. I count myself a proud, unapologetic feminist. I’m that person that feels division and elitism is damaging. I’m that speaker who feels that someone hoarding rights from the underprivileged, the minorities, the impoverished is an act of abuse. Clearly, I’m opinionated, but whenever possible, I’m open to having those opinions expounded upon and informed by those who know better than I do. I felt like I could have benefited from knowing her, and learning how her life changed once she transitioned from the state of ‘Othered” to a women initiated into the ranks of a traditional gender role. The whole Caterpillar turning into a butterfly routine. Many of us are still caterpillars. It’s natural to wonder what the rest of the world looks like from the sky. How it feels when the wind carries your forward on it’s currents instead of pushes against you.
It goes without saying that my respect for all Trans women and men is unsurpassed. Our journeys are markedly different, most pocked with turmoil and tragedy, self hatred and, at one point or another, resenting our challenges that most others don’t have to overcome in order to simply thrive. I remember being 8 years old, the first time I was told I had to be a boy. I curled up on my bed and wept for days. I cried in school. I cried in church. I hated the image staring back at me in the mirror, with my crew cut that my Father made me get because “Boys keep their hair short.” Simple as it seems, I was not allowed to develop. My evolution, my very growth as an independent entity was disrupted- intercepted. Others had it much worse.
Thus, after so many years of pursuing the goal of inhabiting ones authentic skin, hundreds of thousand of dollars in procedures to ensure easy passage, how does one reach those golden gates of gender inclusion and suddenly forget that there are still so many of us still struggling to fit in, sitting on the sidelines of society, dodging ridicule and dehumanizing legislation that puts a target on our back. How can one turn a blind eye to the very real plight of Trans women of color who are being murdered in record numbers. Just because you can now pee without being interrogated or accused of being a rapist or pedophile, how does one justify their reticence to stand up and defend those who have no such rights. Why the silence?
I’m elated for those Trans women and men who have achieved their dreams of living a life more ordinary than less so. They stand as a testament to the possibilities, and their uncontested inclusion in mainstream society demonstrates that it can be done- it should be done- but not just for them. We shouldn’t have to go bankrupt to fit the mold created for us. Even if we could, why do we bend to man-made rules of what determines gender, and why must we hate ourselves until we can “fix” it for the comfort of others? To sit at the table with the cool kids?
I only wish that once they crossed that threshold where they finally met societies standard of acceptability when it comes to gender conformity that they wouldn’t abandoned their activism just because life is easier. Certainly this isn’t always the case. We have Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Laith Ashley and other higher profile Trans public figures who stand as an inspiration to the rest of us.
Sometimes fighting for what is right doesn’t mean just campaigning for yourself or your own interests as long as they apply to you. The oppressors haven’t gone away just because you now fall within their goal posts. Sometimes you fight because of the throngs of people who’ve been left behind need to be reminded that they are not alone.
Found in New Guinea and the surrounding islands, the White-lipped python snake belongs to the genus Leiopython and so far, only six species of these have been identified. If you’re lucky to run across one, never fear, they’re non-venomous.
The Indian Bullfrog is one of the most magnificent of it’s species. They are found in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka and favor areas with plenty of wetlands. Unlike their other colorful cousins, the Poison dart frog that also boast vibrant colors, the Indian Bullfrog is not venomous.
Luna moths, or Actias luna, are one of the largest moth species in North America, with a wingspan of nearly 5 inches although Males have been known to grow as wide as 7 inches.
The Mandarinfish, also dubbed, appropriately S. splendidus, is one of only two vertebrate species known to have blue coloring because of cellular pigment. They live mostly off the coast of Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef. Their numbers have dwindled in recent years due to collectors harvesting them to sell to exotic aquariums.
Brazil boasts some of the most beautiful birds in the world, much in thanks to their lush, but endangered jungles. The Green Headed Tanager is one of those remarkable birds that traverses the canopies and visits local Bird enthusiasts where they are happy to take bird seed from the feeders set out for them.
Names after Queen Victoria herself, The Victoria Crowned Pigeon is another fanciful bird found in New Guinea. They prefer to make their homes in the forests some 3,000 feet above sea level in the nearby mountains, taking daily flights to the ocean where they forage for food in the shallows of the water.
Praying Mantis species boast some of the most majestic colors of any other insect. Not typically aggressive, nor a threat, there is a growing number of Mantis collectors who admire them for the diversity of their unusual, almost alien beauty. Although native to southeast Asia, currently, most Mantis species are sold all over the world, including some of the most in-demand species like The Flower Mantic, and it’s cousin….The Orchid Mantis.
The Jewel Beetle, otherwise known formally as Buprestidae, make their homes in India and Thailand, but those far off locations have not stopped the world from recognizing their iridescent beauty. In fact, for centuries, royal families from England to Egypt have been so mystified by the Jewel Beetle that they have commissioned jewelry, including broaches, necklaces and hairpins to capture their beauty.
The Man-O-War may look like a harmless children’s toy, but they’re actually deadly. Most often found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, they are equipped with long, venomous tentacles that deliver anyone unlucky enough to come with reach a nasty sting, which has been know to be fatal.
Most people think of Dolphins as gentle creatures swimming in schools far out in the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, however, in the case of the Pink Dolphin, whose true name is the “Amazon River Dolphin” actually make their homes in the deepest part of the Amazon River Basin. The adults take on a subtle pink color, with the males producing even more vibrant pink skin.
Not much is known about the Coastal Peacock spider except they make their home in the lush vegetation of the coastal sand dunes of Western Australia. Their are seen at their greatest display when attempting to draw a potential mate, raising their arms into the air to attract nearby females with their vibrant colors.
The ultra rare Melanistic Black Whitetail Deer is, along with the Albino deer, the most beautiful of the species. While their birth is a genetic anomaly that happens about once in every 8 million, it is sadly true that they have no protections, and are often tracked and hunted for their ornamental black antlers and fur when located in an area making them even more rare.
Believe it or not, these majestic “Water Dragons” are actually sea slugs. They they travel with the winds, floating upon the ocean currents where they rely on their gradient colors to camouflage them from predators like Sea gulls. Like so many sea creatures with majestic color, the Blue Dragon is equipped with incredible defenses; It’s tendrils have sharp hooks that deliver anyone who dare handle it a vicious sting, although not deadly.
Truly a creature of the night, the Nocturnal Brahmaea Moth begins as a rather ominous, but elegant caterpillar, with exquisite constructs coming from it’s head and back that allow it to pick up vibrations from it’s surroundings, including a potential predator. This lovely creature is found in India, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Taiwan, and Japan.
The Devil sits on your left shoulder. The Right is the Hand of God.
I recently spent time with a woman from the United Kingdom who is a vocal human rights advocate. As I was listening to her deliver her talking points, mostly in defense of women, LGBT people and immigrants, she touched on a topic that specifically piqued my attention- something I had been entirely oblivious too, but actually existed until the late 70’s.
We’ll call her Mary. Mary was enrolled in a Methodist school at the age of 3. It was a prep school prior to entry to kindergarten where nuns would mold the young children to behave in a fashion that was appropriate to their religious doctrine.
Part of the traditional, widespread curriculum during those formative years meant reprimanding children for being left handed. That punishment including beating the left hands of children with objects such as canes, sticks, even slamming books onto their fingers in order to “train” them to use their right hand, not only write with, but conduct any activity with, including throw a ball, play an instrument, raise their hand to respond to a question, use a food utensil or even shake hands. To use your left hand was considered a cardinal sin. An indication of a tainted soul.
“Jesus sits at God’s right side. God’s left hand, however, is the hand of judgement. The Archangel Gabriel is sometimes called “God’s left hand”, sits at God’s left side, and is one of six angels of death. Those who fall from favor with God are sent to left, as described in Matthew 25: 32–33, in which sheep represent the righteous and goats represent the fallen: “And he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right, but the goats on his left.” In 19th-century Europe, homosexuals were referred to as “left-handed”. In Protestant-majority parts of the United Kingdom, Catholics were called “left-footers”, and vice versa in Catholic-majority parts of Ireland and Irish America. Black magic is sometimes referred to as the “left-hand path”, which is strongly associated with Satanism.”
What occurred in religiously aligned schools in the 60’s was nothing more than state sanctioned abuse. It was an openly expressed intolerance for children- and adults- whose persuasion was to write with their left hand. To compound the senseless beatings, typically in front of their peers, they were isolated, publicly humiliated and treated as lessers by comparison to right-handed students.
Mary explains this abuse lasted years. She was forced to learn to write with her right hand to avoid persecution, and worse, avoid suspicion that her spirit was influence by the forces of evil. Outside the school environment, the local population also applied rigorous stigma to left-handed individuals, both adults and children. Rampant superstition motivated by religious teachings provoked fear of left-handed people within their communities. Engaging with a left handed individual was perceived as bad luck. Unconsciously using your left hand to point, or even wave was considered a rude gesture and often provoked retaliatory violence.
“I would come home and my knuckled would be swollen and bleeding every day.” Says Mary. “If I even reached for a pencil with my left hand, I was scolded and a switch taken to my back. We were accused of being instruments of Satan, essentially tainting the purity of the Right-handed children we had integrated with. So, we were separated to spare them our satanic influence.”
Oftentimes, Nuns would tie down their left hand to the backs of their chair to ensure it wasn’t used.
This led to an entire generation developing learning disabilities, such as inability to focus on studies, stuttering and emotional introversion. Their learning places became establishments of fear and torture. Their elders relentlessly convinced them that they were inferior and moreover, as they represented a danger to others, this was physically beaten into their conscious. Subsequently, most of these young children developed a sense of self loathing and even suicide ideation. They were taught to hate themselves, branded as God’s exiles, because they were born to use the “wrong” hand.
Millions of children had to learn how to use their right hand to conduct simple tasks in order to avoid reprimand. They were forcibly trained to abandoned their genetic predisposition to use their left hand, and conform to an acceptable standard of right-handed activity lest God turn their back on them.
This contradicts the practices of other faiths dating back centuries. For example, The Incas positively regarded left-handed individuals as people who possessed special spiritual abilities.
In Buddhism, the natural persuasion to use the left hand implied wisdom, according to it’s teachings.
In early Russia, “levsha” (left-hander) became a common noun for a skilled craftsman of status.
But the damage inflicted on European children, most of them from infancy, had long term consequences. Many who have learned to be fluent with using their right hand still experience a form of PTSD when they see others casually demonstrating habits they had been condemned for.
“In many Muslim parts of the world, in parts of Africa as well as in India, the left hand is considered the dirty hand and it’s considered offensive to offer that hand to anyone, even to help.”
Mary asserts that those archaic prejudices and separatist ideologies fueled by religious beliefs that victimized millions of young children are not vastly different from the indoctrinated bigotry against the LGBT community and racism against people of color. “It is the systematic persecution of people that the Religious masses view as lesser. Their natural existence threatens the words in their bibles. They have to beat them into being like them. History repeats itself over and over, it’s just that the victim is different in every era, but the villain is the same.”
Prejudice against left-handed children (And adults) is not something that mainstream maintains an awareness of, despite so many survivors of this abuse still living to share their experiences. It stands as a testament to the unabashed attacks on people perceived as different from the majority by Religious extremists, and sadly, the extent they’ll go to in effort to force others, including young children to conform to to their immovable expectation in the name of God using the Bible as justification.
Your could have simplified your counterpoint by stating “I subscribe to RadFem terrorism against Transgender women.”
Regardless of how elaborate your justification, that’s the core of your missive.
You can be Trans-supportive without being Anti-Lesbian and vice versa- but these “Feminists” and I use the term loosely, as they’re a blemish on the feminist society, embrace all women without the hysterics of calling them names, claiming they’ve waged a war on them, and taking their hate on tour- which has been uniformly rejected by many establishments around the UK, including social media outlets.
The citations, articles, and research speaks for itself. Radfems, the self appointed gatekeepers of femininity and womanhood, are the ones being rebuffed by the masses, and I’m satisfied with that. So are my lesbian friends who have made it clear that this hate group does not represent their interests.
I never saw myself as an activist. Nor did I expect that half the words I’ve written or thoughts that have tumbled from my head would be considered activism.
For most of us, Activism was never an intention. There was no master plan, or class you can take during evening hours for a PhD to figure out how to execute the tireless task of raising your voice while a majority is competing with yours, telling you to quiet down.
I don’t imagine Marsha P. Johnson realized that her legacy would be one of a pioneer LGBT rights activist when she threw that brick during the fateful first night of the Stonewall riots. Neither did Rosa Parks when she refused to comply with bus driver’s demands to sit at the back of the bus because of the pigment of her skin. Presumably, Susan B. Anthony probably envisioned a very different life for herself than fighting against slavery and shaping the future of women’s rights. More recently, the young teenagers who survived the Parkland High School shooting- They likely had plans the day following the shooting that had nothing to do with the massacre that derailed them; Things like sporting events, college essays, finding a date for the prom. Now they’re spearheading an gun regulation movement while coming under continued fire from conservatives and republicans in the current administration and around the country.
Few people walk over the threshold of their door one day and think, “Today, I’ll be an activist.” It doesn’t work like that. Indisputably, most individuals will never find themselves in the role of an activist solely because they don’t have to be. No one will tell them they can’t get married because of their sexual preference, or that they’re more likely to be harassed by authorities because their skin is dark. Men don’t have to consider what the consequences of a rape induced pregnancy mean. There isn’t a President banning them from serving in the military because of their gender identity or demanding that government officials exclude them from discussions vital to their healthcare. These people have the privilege of blissful ignorance, not required to think beyond what they want on their sub at lunchtime. That must be really nice. I doubt you’d meet an activist who would rather spend their lifetime fighting against an oppressive regime than enjoying the scenery on the path of least resistance.
For me, activism was never a something I casually opted into. I wasn’t given a choice. I was literally drafted into this role, and early on, I resented it. I longed for an ordinary, expected life. I knew, however, silence was not an alternative I could live with.
I don’t think it’s a terrible reach to state that the younger version of myself naively presumed that everyone knew the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, fair and unfair or safe and dangerous. Is it tremendously far fetched to believe that racism is unacceptable, women should have the right to make their own choices, and sexual orientation, gender- or gender identity, should never be an indicator of someones potential or determine the degree of equality they’re entitled to? The concept of picking apart what makes people unique; Those whose very presence diversifies and demonstrates the limitless spectrum of the human condition should be celebrated instead of challenged.
Sometimes, I feel like I must have been swept away in the middle of the night as I slept and dropped onto another Earth. A backward Earth. Like something out of a Dr. Suess book, everything that was once upright, is now upside down. I have no ability to comprehend the words that are slung like rocks from slingshot demeaning women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, immigrants, transgender individuals, people of color. It makes no sense to me. It feels like a black hole, existing solely to sap the souls of anyone deemed an “other” and leave them a hallow shell of a human, manipulated into hating themselves because they’re told by the masses “It’s the right thing to do.”
I must admit, it feels so unlike home. I feel so alien from the majority whose world views dehumanize, isolate and persecute smaller sects of society. You’d think we would have learned from Americas young, but terrifying history- from the genocide of the Native Americans whose land we spilled out upon like them like a new plague, murdering them in numbers to profound to count, to the burning of women by the hundreds up and down the east coast of New England by declaring them witches; And the brutal kidnapping and cattle-herding of black human beings who were sold in town squares as property. Government sanctioned rape, torture and murder of anyone unlike the religious, self righteous, white Christians who used their bible as justification for their actions in every bloody scenario.
Times have changed, progress has been made, I agree, but what did we learn as a Nation when all we do is turn our sword to the next most vulnerable in the food chain. The gay community were beaten and arrested in streets across the country, many thrown in prison. Now it’s the immigrants- the tearing apart of families who’ve only ever known this country and forcibly sending them back to a strange land… for no other reason than those in power can. It achieves nothing but the infliction of unnecessary pain.
And then there’s me. A Transgender woman. Lawmakers want to incite hysteria, create a narrative that paints me as a pedophile; a threat to their virginal daughters and fragile wives. I’m banned from serving in any branch of military, and in some states, from using a public bathroom simply because of who I am. Trans women of color are being murdered at alarming rates. One of them, JoJo Striker, right in my hometown… she was shot in a garage. At least that’s where they found her on that cold February day in 2017. She was just 23. As far as I know, there has been no effort to solve her murder. Since then, dozens of hate motivated murders targeting primarily Trans women of color have occurred. We’re being killed for being Trans.
The white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, Christians of our species always have a target. It’s almost as if they cannot justify their existence without someone to bully. They’re not content unless they have someone under their boot. There is this irrational but insatiable hunger for superiority. There is no basis for the cruel attacks on minorities. None. Just an embedded desire to be regarded as better than us, more deserving of the things they have that we cannot- with no good reason aside from an endless quest to dictate the lives of those they deem as second class citizens.
What a joyous life it must be to experience no social resistance. No pangs of confusion or fear to distract you from picking up your organic pizza to bake for the kids when they get home from private school. I realize I’m casting a wide net and to some that may seem unfair in itself. It sounds radical. It sounds illogical. It sounds pessimistic and nonsensical.
I know how it sounds. I’ve felt that way for a long time, thinking; “How can they say that? What grounds have they to feel like this about us? Where is the evidence or foundation to make such ridiculous assertions? Why are they poising us to be under a relentless barrage of insults and accusations? Not one of us, but all of us who fall outside the white, male, heterosexual cisgender, christian brand?” You can’t miss one box while ticking them off without finding yourself on the fray, vulnerable to persecution. Does the net get much wider than that? Pointing that out, however, results in you being written off as a radical.
We have no choice but to fight back.
We haven’t luxury of being an observer standing on the outside of the arena. We’re put on the ground, in the cages, waiting for the next wave of condemnation.
This is how an Activist is created. A willingness to stand when told to be seated, a demand to be counted when they insist on ignoring us. We hold closely to our values. We’re the few who still possess a conscience, and from that, a self motivated movement to push back against those who lack it. It’s more than a difference of opinion, but our refusal compromise the things we know to be true of ourselves, despite their ignorance. And, as human beings, reclaim ownership of the rights we are entitled to.
We have partners, families, people we love, people who love us. We had plans, and for most of us, fighting for equality and our right to prosper was not on the calendar of our lives. We just expected to be like everyone else, not better than, not superior to, but not lesser than or inferior, either. It’s not about taking anything away. Equality isn’t a limited in quantity. One must not go without it for another to have it. It’s a commodity they’re clinging to in order to maintain a sense of supremacy.
In response, some pick up placards or sign petitions. Some march down Pennsylvania Avenue to demonstrate in front of the White House. Some of us share our experiences online to educate and inspire those who will come after us, because ultimately, we know it’s not just about us. It is for every child like us that is born in a million tomorrows that should never have to be an activist. They should be living their lives, not fighting for the right to exist on the same plateau as everyone else. That’s why those before us fought… hoping we wouldn’t have to.
When you live in a state of mind that we activists are thrust into, knowing that if we don’t take up the gauntlet, we risk everything- especially our quality of life while we’re here. And none of us are here forever. We don’t have all the time in the world to influence the changes necessary to achieve balance where there is none. So we develop a gnawing urgency to do what we can now. The stalwarts of activism have turned it into a career, having been carrying a torch for decades. My friend, Lily, runs an emergency shelter for LGBT youth who are ejected, often violently from their homes. She is determined to give every child a good start. Other friends make films, documentaries as testaments to the injustices committed against us- and by us- I mean the under-represented. Women, Transgender Americans, Black communities, Immigrants- those of us on the fringes, none of us any better off than the next. We’re all the prey of elitists with lawmaking privileges.
Politics try to turn us against one another, a common tactic to preserve the status quo of a chosen few. Divide us so that we never organize, and conquer us one by one. They convince the middle class that the impoverished are to blame for their high taxes because they have their hands in their pockets in the form of government benefits. Not true, but serves their purpose. They convince the religious that the homosexuals are contributing to the downfall of a moral society…. so they’ll waive compassion and declare war instead.
In their arena, the elites lift the gates and set the matches. The athiests against the christians. The blacks against the whites, the middle class against the poor, the republicans against the democrats. The able bodied against the disabled. It’s all for their entertainment. While everyone is battling, the elites assume absolute control and determine our future, uncontested.
That is or harsh reality.
For those of you who’ve never had to pick up a sign, or tell your story before the world hoping to change one mind, I envy you. I never expected this would be something I had to do.
But, I won’t stop. Not today, not tomorrow or the next day.
Maybe not in my lifetime.
Not when there are so many disturbing parallels to our tragic past that will potentially cost us everything the activists a century before us fought and died for.
The torch of purpose burns with uncertainty as long as there are those intent on dousing it, leaving most of us in darkness like modern day exiles. Unity is more important than ever before. If we turn a blind eye simply because it’s not our rights on the ballot this year, when they finally succeed in whittling everyone else to nothingness, their focus will fall on you unless you can tick off every box of their accessibility quiz… and who will be left to stand with you?