Refusing to Be Faceless: On being queer and transgender right now

I’m not currently, nor have I ever been, in the military. But I have many friends who have been. So while today’s tweets don’t directly affect me, it’s put everything in the front of my mind and i wanted to talk about it. If you follow me already or know me in “real life” off the computer screen, this probably isn’t going to be much revelation for you. But this is my attempt, as a queer, transgender male, to put some personal perspective out there for those who aren’t trans, so they can get a glimpse into why so many of us are scared, angry, or both.

Fears based in reality

Somewhere between the election and early this year, my husband and I were talking about his legal name change, which still needs to happen. And he paused and asked me, seriously, if it might be safer to not complete his legal gender and name change on paper right now, “in case”. In case of what? In case we lose the right to same sex marriage again. It’s not an impossible scenario. On paper, we are currently “straight married” since his gender marker and name have not been changed but mine has.

Also in that time frame, a dear friend of mine (Also trans, also running their own business) and I had a serious conversation about the coming days. We were both struggling with the question of what stance to take. Would we, for our personal safety, the safety of our families, and to make our business faces “less controversial”, move back towards being stealth, and stay quiet? Or would we continue to be vocal and honest and fight? It was a serious conversation, with both options having serious possible repercussions.

We both, in the end, decided to be true to ourselves and continue to be vocal and fight. To stand up and say we are trans business people and we will not stand for discrimination or repercussions for being PEOPLE, wherever we fall on the gender or sexuality spectrum.

The Affordable Care Act

And then there’s healthcare. The Affordable Care Act made sure my treatment was affordable – for hormones, for my hysterectomy, for my top surgery. Before hormones, estrogen made my anxiety and mood swings a million times worse. My health was generally poorer. On hormones, I have been able to lose weight, my cholesterol has gone down, and my migraines have almost completely disappeared.

My top surgery not only helped my dysphoria, but also relieved years of immense back and shoulder pain (I had DD-DDD depending on my weight) that I had been forced to treat with pain meds only. That was because insurance wouldn’t cover a reduction for me as a female. (That is a different argument for another day, how even as a trans male I enjoy male privilege. I was allowed to say “I don’t want these parts” while my female identified friends have to suffer. I will always fight for any female bodied person to be able to get the treatment and procedures they need without so much policing of their bodies and pain).

Now we’re racing to get my husband through his top surgery. It’s been a long process due to changeovers with provider policies and offices, and a lot of hoops. While it’s better than it once was, it still smacks of gatekeeping with all the steps he has to complete to even get on the waiting list for the two area surgeons our provider uses. He should be finally able to get on that waiting list, but depending on how long that wait is, we have no guarantee that his surgery will still be covered by the time his turn comes up. And if insurance doesn’t help, there is no financial way we can afford it, or continue hormones. Or head meds, because I need those too, if I want to be a functional adult out in the world.

We haven’t even talked about bathrooms

Before my beard came in, I had to mentally prep myself before walking into a restroom because I wasn’t sure what might happen when I went in. Now I’m never even glanced at, but I have friends who aren’t so “lucky” (again, the topic of whether anyone “passes” or should have to pass based on gender norms is something I could write a whole diatribe on, and others have).

Basically, we have a lot to worry about. A lot of what-ifs. They aren’t nebulous, they are concrete fears with basis in reality due to things already done by or hinted at by this administration.

What you can do, even if you’re not transgender

If you want to be a true ally to us, here’s some things you can do:

  • Fight with us. Use your voices and influence to help us be heard and seen.
  • If you know trans people? Ask them what would be helpful to them. It might just be an ear that will listen. The point is we’re all individual people with different needs.
  • If you have money you can give, consider donating to Transgender American Veterans Association, the ACLU, or the Transgender Law Center.

We are human. We are worthy of compassion. We are worthy of care. We aren’t going away. And I will always fight.

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