I am going to die. That is an unpopular yet frightening opinion, and all a part of living in this body when I think about, discuss, or grieve the Orlando massacre. Orlando, Florida is a place where my close friend almost died and where I had some of my best college memories. I am going to die. I cannot tell my beautiful, strong immigrant mother this truth because she’ll barrage me with questions like 'where she went “wrong” with my upbringing that made me "chose" this life' or 'how can she protect me.' I don’t know how else to tell her that my death is inevitable whether natural or from the following:
1) The way nightclubs aren’t a “gay safe-haven”
You haven’t lived, like truly lived until you’ve been dick checked at a bar as a trans man. If you don’t know what “dick checking is” it is when gay men or any other masculine folks who seek other masculine folks proceed to touch or grab your crotch to test or prove if you are a man and thus deserving of their attention, attraction, or conversation. Or, wait for it, when you are virtually and/or explicitly ignored or harassed on the dancefloor, by bouncers. Or at the bar, if you are either A) not definitively a boy or a girl (please) or B) not able-bodied, or C) not “pretty” enough (in weight, physique, your face, your hair, how you dress, or if you’re a person of color). Better yet, when you are flocked to by our queer community because your gender or ethnicity is so exotified and exploited for sex/attraction.
2) being black because c’mon.
3) heat exhaustion, body conforming, and gendered expectations
You haven’t experienced heat until you have 5 – 10+ pounds of breast tissue compressed t-shirt flat to your chest in 80+ degree weather: the binder is a modern miracle That sort of constant weight on your chest is bad for your sternum, ribcage, breathing, and general existence. But it is what many trans men or nonbinary folks wear to flatten the chest and appearance of breasts for a more masculine frame. That’s cool, but what isn’t cool is the way we are forced to wear them by the normatives our peers, queer community, and employers create around gender. Sometimes it is dangerously too hot for trans men to wear binders, but many of us resort to wearing them anyway because many
A) don’t know how act and stare (because obviously we have to wear a binder all the time even if it means heatstroke just to make sure others are comfortable about their transphobia), B) the whole shtick of “if we were really trans we wouldn’t want our breasts visible at all”, or C) many fail to affirm our gender identities and expressions and return to feminine pronouns and language in reference to us
4) being transgender or nonbinary because, again, c’mon.
5) having my body either over-medicated or my health issues minimized because of one or all of the above
Historically healthcare “professionals” have over-medicated queer and black bodies to keep them weak, submissive, and erased from everyday society. Guess what… still happens. Or they just write everything off as A) you’re transgender, so that’s totally the problem here when in reality you have the flu, B) you’re a person of color so we’re totally going to not validate all the systemic ways white supremacy has introduced trauma, violence, drugs, and poverty into your life as a reason for why you’re here, C) you’re a person of color so we’re totally going to write off why you’re here to the reasons in B and because we don’t know how to professionally or effectively address them in a manner that best treats you so we’re going to give you too much of everything so that you can’t, D) all of the above and we just don’t care so we’re not going to treat you.
6) Sexism, hyper-masculinity, and fragile masculinity have you seen what happens to feminine or people with feminine features, female, and female-bodied people?
7) the “love conquers hate”, “love is love”, “everyone is equal”, “prayer for…” narrative
Saying any of the above as an “in solidarity” is super passive and is like saying “all lives matter” (don’t even get me started). If you really want to support us vote against the bathroom laws, for gun reform, use our pronouns, say our names, all not only to our faces, but also when we are not present. If you really want to pray (if that’s your jam, cool), you can pray for us, but my friend Jason said it best for me, “Save your prayers. We've had more than enough of your "well-meaning" bible verses and pleas to God. Pray for yourselves. Pray for those of you, or those in your communities whose hearts and souls burn with hatred for us. Pray for those people who dedicate their lives to trying to "save" us. Pray for those who disown their children for the crime of loving someone from the wrong gender. Pray for those who use a religion of love as a shield for their own loathing. Pray for those who use their words and actions to make their dinner tables and the pews of their churches into fertile grounds for the seeds of homophobia. Pray for yourselves, because today it may have been a Muslim man killing us, but don't delude yourselves into thinking that tomorrow it couldn't be a Christian one. You want to "do something" for us? The next time someone in your church uses an anti-LGBT slur, or talks about how evil we are, speak up. Don't let your community be the one that births the next Omar Mateen.”
I am going to die. That is okay, but I am also going to live. I am going to live as loud and proud as I can while navigating these spaces because the very fabric of my existence is a resistance. Because to live any other way gives our oppressors strength and power. I am going to live because as a human being, I have a right to.