An Answer to Hate
When It Feels Like Your Death Is Your Only Exit? ANSWER It!
Trigger Warning: Transphobia, Homophobia, Hate Speech
One day, I went into work and noticed that the little Pride flag I keep at my front-desk location in our medical clinic seemed all wrinkly, like someone had crumpled it up. I was readying myself for a busy day, so I thought nothing more of it.
Then a week later, in the midst of another busy day, I looked over to see that not only was the flag crumpled, but it also bore a slur, that the following photo shows.
Apparently, the defacer didn’t think I’d gotten the message via the crumpling. Now, it had to be vandalism to make their point.
Facing the Defacer
Now, if you’ve read a post o’ mine or two, or one of my books, you’ll know I’m a loud and proud trans woman. In no way have I ever been what the defacer describes in their crudely written slur. Heck yeah, I’m a lesbian. Been one for 40+ years. Never been attracted to the dudes (nothing against you, dudes; you just don’t stir my cuppa tea).
This makes me suspect that the defacer has never met me, and, if they did, prolly would not have a clue I’m trans. If they had, I theorize, they’d’ve scrawled out an entirely different slur. I dunno.
I showed the defaced Pride flag to my coworkers, supervisor, and the physicians in our clinic. To a person, they recoiled at it. I’d never thought it had been one of them.
In the end, though, it doesn’t matter who it was. It happened.
All of us live by totems. Ultra-modern, progressive, technologically savvy people that we be, we’re no different from our ancestors of 60,000 years ago who applied their handprints and portraits of beasts on the cave walls of Lascaux. Hand silhouettes left in the caves weren’t a novelty. Their sheer numbers show it was expected. The beautiful rendering of a buffalo or deer was the one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Handprints, on the other hand (ahem), confirmed life as we experience it.
“We’re here!” say our handprints. “We’re part of this, and the wonder of it all is that it’s mysteriously part of us. Wow!”
Buffalo didn’t dip hooves in brightly colored mud to mark their presence in a cave. We did. We continued that effort right on through the Medieval illumination of ancient manuscripts. A monkish scribe, like the rest of us, longs to say, “Hey! I’m here!”
These cave paintings aren’t unique to Lascaux but can be found throughout the world. In them, we see something recognizable that bridges the millennia between us and our ancestors. Namely, that sense of still being here even though we feel like our world’s coming undone.
And I felt that way when I discovered the slur on my little flag. I felt defaced. I also felt humiliated that whoever scratched it on my property hit the mark, done the dirty deed, sent the message. It worked. I hurt. And the world hurt that little bit more because of it.
Ashas so regularly and indispensably done in recording the Niagara Falls of legislative hatred poured onto trans persons in Republican-dominated (better described as “gerrymandered”) states, people in halls of power want to shape our totems. Someone saw my flag as a challenge, a totem against what they think/believe/feel, and they defaced it in an attempt to rob it of its power. Ever wonder why the Egyptian Sphinx has no nose? Our predecessors believed that cutting off the noses of statues would spite the import of what the statue meant. Hate so-called “godless” pagan cultures of yore? Slice off their noses!
I Nose Better
Deep down, I knew better than to engage in a pissing match with a hater. I will never be able to address or heal that person’s need to spite what they’ve been propagandized into seeing as the be-all/end-all evil.
That’s not my job. And it’s not yours.
What we can do is answer with our lives. As we’re alive. In our living.
So, I promptly brought into work a little trans flag. I figure if anyone’s gonna deface that with a slur, they oughta approach some semblance of accuracy. And my displaying the trans flag wasn’t a one-upping, in-your-face reply. I’m me. I love me. I love my peeps. And I ain’t gonna stop being me as loud and proud as I always do.
A few days later, I found the following item on my desk.
Someone of the better angels gifted it to me and hasn’t come forward to say they were the good soul who did it.
And that’s more than good-enough for me, and for all of us.
You see, it’s an answer.
There’s never been a question as to any of us being who we are, ‘cuz, well, we are. You can deface us, legislate against us, even kill us. But you’ll never wipe out our existence. “We’re here!” proclaim our handprints. Cutting off our noses to spite our faces only gives a testament to the ages that you can’t handle life in all its wondrous, varied, beautiful forms.
That’s on you, bro.
On me is a smile.
 In the margin of one 11th century illuminated manuscript is written, “This is sad! O little book! A day will come in truth when someone over your page will say, ‘The hand that wrote it is no more.’” The Atlantic. 21 March 2012.