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Living Trans in ChristoFascist America
A Course in Being My True Self
A Course in Being My True Self
I reel at SCOTUS’ overturning bodily autonomy and its effort in the near future to let state legislatures install autocrats of their choosing. I’m horrified at the January-6th Committee’s revelation of the attempt to overthrow an election and the prospect that no one will be held accountable. I’m daily depressed at anti-trans bills and laws that force teachers to out trans students and that hunt down affirming parents of trans children.
“How’s this happened?” I ask. “Where was I derelict in my duty to freedom?”
Over the past five years, the answer has come back that I didn’t neglect anything. In that time, I’ve realized my trans identity, come out, transitioned, and written, written, written to promote awareness of the trans experience and the sacred dignity of we a miniscule minority, forced to center stage as the ChristoFascist punching bag.
In the echoes of that answer comes a sobering realization — America has never been about freedom. Has always been about a privileged minority crushing the rest of us because our existence threatens their power. My whole life, even as I self-deludedly presented as the man I wasn’t, I also deluded myself about my country.
To some who read this, the idea of a Gilead-like junta, even in light of the most recent SCOTUS rulings, seems far-fetched. This is America. We’ve always enjoyed freedom.
Perhaps I’ve woken too late. Christian zealots hijack the machinery of government, stopping at nothing — violence, lying, cheating, sedition, murder, overthrow of the rule of law — to gain what they see as divine will. There will be no end to this, for their wished-for apocalypse justifies the means. And where there is no end, there’s only meanness.
SCOTUS originalists enforce what the framers of the founding documents always wanted. American has never been about freedom for all, only for a few. The Constitution passed only because slaveholders won the compromise to count each African-American slave as three-fifths of a person in the censuses that decide legislative representation. Never did they consider that women could vote or hold property or office. They persecuted LGBTQIA+ persons into nonexistence. Christian churches were granted the privileged status of no taxation. The first amendment’s barring the establishment of a state religion was written, passed, and promulgated by white male Christians and Deists for whom “religion” was the Judeo-Christian norms of the English mother country. They weren’t thinking of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Native American spirituality, let alone paganism. Their only notion of state-established religion was the Church of England and European state churches.
None of this justifies that white male minority’s wielding power. We fought a Civil War to free slaves, worked tirelessly to grant women equal rights, destroyed Jim Crow with the blood of civil-rights champions. Obergefell! The trans tipping point! We’ve come a long way!
Or did we just replace some repressive means with other ones? ChristoFascists drink no Kool-Aid that hasn’t been in our water system since Columbus raped the Carribean. For Christian Nationalists, this is a return to sanity, decency, and the freaks chained up in the circus tent where they belong.
It’s not a “competing vision” of America. It is America.
Others reading this — those who for centuries have been crushed under this tyranny — have every right to smirk at my very lately joining their ranks.
But I’ve always been in their ranks. Like my trans identity, I just hid it from myself.
You’ve been there, too.
What’s the end game, then? Am I giving up?
No. I’m doing what centuries of people have done. I’m living. And America may kill me for it.
But I’m not living quietly. No meek Bethany’s gonna inherit any earth. Nor is a Bethany taking to the streets with molotov cocktails and arms going to wrest a better vision from the cold, dead hands of an always cold and dead American “experiment.” That would be playing their game — something that very nearly dissolved my soul before I woke up.
I can’t stop being me, and neither can you. If living authentically kills us, it’s no different than those who came before us. In the meantime, I live like there’s no end. Because there isn’t. Love has no end. It persists beyond death. Even the death of the better angels of our nature.
The means to this love? You and me. Being ourselves.
Later this summer, Pam and I will travel to see our newborn grandson. We’ll drive through six states before we hit a jurisdiction that protects the bodily autonomy of women and offers haven for refugees from states that don’t regard women, practicers of faiths other than conservative Christianity, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ folks as human beings. We’ll ride in a VW camper with hippie stickers and be our lesbian and trans selves.
None of this is bravery. We’re just living. And we’ll continue as we are, as best we know how, even if someone kills or imprisons us, this trip or sometime in the future.
That’s always been what the majority of people do in America and every land since oligarchs invented nation-states to consolidate power and privilege. And none of our living is in vain.
Living and loving has no end. We stand where states fall, as America might. We suffer depravities and indignities all people have. The difference is that this is our time to do it. Not to live in the past but to draw courage from our predecessors’ lives and loves. Not to dream about what the future could be, if only! but to live the time given us.
“Apocalypse” means “great revealing.” ChristoFascists who want the second coming reveal they’ve always had it wrong. I can’t convince them via words.
But I live and write my life as a testament that has meaning and no end. It’s precious. I’m precious. You’re precious. Live that and love that right now, Peeps.
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