The Psychological Scarring of Being Transgender in Trump Nation
If there is a rock bottom, we have yet to find it. Why? We’re still falling.
Transgender and gender diverse Americans have never had a safe passage in greater society. We had one of two choices: We could chose to push forward on the only path available to us, riddle with weeds, thorns and mountainous obstacles in order to simply thrive in spite of the condition… or, we could be consumed by overwhelming emotions of self defeat, conditioned self-hatred and slip into a sense of despair few ever fully recover from. It is that hopelessness that has cost many people on the trans spectrum their lives.
While it was never easy- not only because of external hostility toward us and an arrogant unwillingness for society, not only to adapt to, but reject our existence, we saw a period of time where it got a little better.
We saw movement and momentum. We saw progress. We saw more trans+ identifying people stepping out of the shadows unapologetically and with a brazen confidence. We saw progress and inclusion in legislation that acknowledged our presence in a world once reserved solely for binary men and women. We saw that someone with power and influence where it actually mattered introduce executive orders that protected us from the acts of violence we’d been subject to for far too long. Did it stop it from happening? No, but we were provided a voice- an allegiance with a growing number of supporters who saw us, not as deviants or sinners, but human beings with a right to thrive.
We had taken a step forward. There were suddenly our and proud trans kids being elected prom king or queen. There were trans people being introduced to the narrow minds of middle America by means of educational documentaries and we were allow- even encouraged- to tell our stories. Communities developed, organizations committed to the task of enhancing our visibility. The younger generation demonstrated an eagerness to learn and listen as they found themselves exposed to more transgender people than any generation had before, and they were largely embraced.
And the 2016 hit us like a wrecking ball. Suddenly, as if the entire world had turned upside down overnight, we were seeing our new government shun us. Attempts were made to ban transgender military service men and and women simply for being trans identified. They were called “Distractions” by our President. That was followed by the redaction of all executive orders by the previous government that were intended to protect us from being victimized by those who held tightly to bigoted world views that excluded us. We are now more vulnerable than ever.
Then came the introduction of the new Health and Human Services Religious Freedom and Conscience Division that allows emergency responders and medical caregivers the right to refuse us medical treatment without consequence and on the basis of religious or moral objection. We’ve always been on the end of the sword of religious zealots and hyper conservatives, but now their hatred and targeted ostracizing has been state sanctioned.
The rate of Transgender homicides, specifically women of color, has since spiked, and many states allow a “Trans Panic” defense that allows a man who murders a transgender woman to pay minimal consequences or none at all.
The New Order of Trumpism that favors only white, wealthy, straight cisgender men has had more than just disastrous impacts on our economy, our diplomatic relationships with allied nations, our environment agencies, education departments, the free press, freedom from religious persecution, immigration policies and the concept of truth, but for the transgender community, it has become psychological warfare.
People are afraid. Justifiably.
Every day it’s something new. An introduction of a law that postures Transgender women as Men posing as women to infiltrate bathrooms with the intention of assaulting little girl and raping the wives of godly men. We’re painted as sick and twisted monsters by preachers standing beside our own president at the Value Voters Summit as he applauds with approval.
As the clock ticks backward in time, the iron hands chip away at our sense of belonging. As we watch all of our work being systematically undone with the only plausible intention being to harm us, or expose us to harm, summons up a sense of dread and inevitable foreboding, never knowing what is coming next. We feel ourselves trembling under a sinister administration who has made certain to let us know that we, as a people, are on his radar and will return to the status of “Other.” We will be viewed once more through the evangelical gaze that has, for centuries, damaged our emotional and physical well being.
It’s harder to accept this, because we know that is not the way it should be. We believed others, at least those we believed allied with us, felt the same. Then they made this man leader of our Nation, and the usher of our fate. Many of us lost friends, family members, and even saw colleagues who once exhibited casual civility become outright traitors, now spewing rhetoric and hive-mind systems of thought as they staunchly supported the man responsible for our undoing.
How do we process this? It feels like more than a betrayal. It feel like we were lulled into a sense of security and subsequently led to the Trumpian Alter for slaughter. There is a famous saying that comes to mind; “Trying to understand crazy will drive one crazy.” There is no reason, no rational. We are innocent bystanders guilty of no wrongdoing but being unjustly persecuted and reduced to subhuman.
The mind that operates with any modicum of logic cannot navigate this, much less understand it. As a result, so many trans people have been experiencing increased rates of social anxiety, depression, even an exacerbated fear of presenting in public as their preferred gender. I would be reticent if I neglected to mention the transgender people who had, at some point in the last decade, developed the confidence to walk in their truth, have turned around and walked back into the closet out of a need to self preserve. We’re in fight or flight mode, many of us. Some of us are fleeing, and I understand why.
Pushing back against a radical movement who simply despises you without any provocation seems like screaming into a vacuum. They’re not listening. They don’t have to. Even as a result of my posts here, combative posts about me have been written that begin with “Tranny Phaylen Fairchild,” and refer to me as “He/She/It.” But, that’s the consequence of putting my words out there in this chaotic era where there is no accountability and hatred toward people like me is not just endorsed, but enthusiastically put on display. I’m old enough to have a thick skin, but I would be negligent to presume that everyone does.
I could care less about what someone says regarding me, or their opinion of me. That’s none of my business. I care about my ability to exist, safely, in a broader society that is changing shape at an alarming rate. That shape is ugly. We all see it. Bigots had gotten to the point where they may have maintained their heinous views, but they had for the most part learned to be more discreet. There were repercussions, after all. Not anymore. Now they are out in numbers, having parades, campaigning against transgender people and shouting propaganda to extoll fear and ignorance. It happened at a Pride Parade in London where a group of Anti-Trans lesbians literally led the parade. Although uninvited, they were not stopped. Control was handed to them. Had they been anti-gay protesters, would that have happened? Had they been from the Westboro Baptist Church, famous for protesting the funerals of LGBT people, would they have been allowed to lead a march intended to celebrate pride in ourselves as a diverse spectrum of people? The very thing they hate?
Sure, it feels like we’ve spiraled into a mad, mad world. A frightening, Orwellian universe. It seems like we’ve been pushed to the very fringes that those before us wrestled to escape, many to their own detriment, so that we might come as far as we have, despite having further to go. Now, we have to somehow wrap our heads around the fact that the ground seems to be giving way beneath us as we find ourselves in the cross hairs of Trumpism.
How do we maintain our personal feelings of value, self worth, or very dignity as it’s all being argued against everywhere from Mega Churches to Fox News all the way to the Senate floor. Few will know how it feels to watch politicians run- and win- on promises to eviscerate your basic human rights.
It takes its toll on the psyche. It wears down the spirit. It fosters a sense of powerlessness that leave one prone and emotionally broke. It reeks havoc on our hard earned stability which we covet. It’s often painful to read the news; To scroll through social media and watch as Republicans and trolls alike spin up their own fairy tales and mythologies that portray us as villains over and over again with staggering frequency- they never sleep. We’re exposed to this, and it’s time we call it what it is.
Repeated behaviors intended solely to thrust us into a dystopian existence where we must fight daily against an ever strengthening tide of oppressive ideologues and their relentless, albeit frivolous accusations and mischaracterisations to support their tyrannical agenda that has never had any basis in fact.
Facts, in 2018, do not matter anymore. It’s all fake news. And the design of the double-speak, back tracking then claiming everyone else is a liar is an architecture of confusion that lends itself to well to Trump Supporters, whose cult-like mentality despite reality is terrifyingly real. That is our reality.
The silver lining is this. He won’t be president forever, and hopefully, by the the time this moment hits the history books, it will be viewed as a vile, disturbing mockery of democracy that victimized innocent Americans like me, like you.
We need to say it out loud: This is hard. This is unnerving. This is difficult to process and we feel subject to destructive behaviors exhibited by our own government. We have a responsibility to each other to let it out rather than internalize our fear. Tomorrow’s children, many who will be just like us, need to know our stories to prevent Trumpism from every creeping up and taking power ever again.
We are not powerless, despite how some of us may feel. We may be at the mercy of a diabolical regime, but we are quickly crafting our vision for the future…
… and that’s where your power lays. This era is not our future. It is formative. It is tomorrows lesson and we will be the teachers.