The Transchick Chronicles
What It Feels Like To Always Be 'Uncomfy'
Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment of “The Transchick Chronicles,” an on-going series of essays written by out transgender journalist Stephanie Haskins, as she documents her transition. Scroll to the bottom for links to her previous entries.
BY STEPHANIE HASKINS
A 13-year-old boy recently read a poem he wrote to his eighth grade schoolmates in Lexington, Kentucky. It was then published in late May in a long, terribly sad yet exquisitely beautiful story in the Lexington Herald Leader.
The piece described, in devastating prose, what it’s like to be a trans kid living in an aggressively transphobic state.
Without question, it’s one of the saddest (and perhaps most accurate) descriptions I’ve yet seen of what it’s like to inhabit the body of someone who identifies as transgender.
It is this teen’s story. And, it is mine. It’s also the story of the other 1.6 million American trans people—many of whom have the misfortune of living in places where they are despised and harassed, and are likely almost always afraid.
They breathe in the ambient hatred of ignorant, evil people who have no reason to detest them, except that they are different.
Let me reiterate that: I am different.
And this kid is different, too—a kid who’s had a sense of his difference most of his life.
That these words came out of the mouth of a teen—still a child—and yet are so profound and tragic, and just fucking heartbreaking, is just short of astounding.
His name is Henry Svec.
13-year-old Henry Svec
After you read Henry’s lovely words, and absorb the sadness and terror his words convey, I’m not sure you’ll be able to find the right glue to make yourself whole again.
You will be haunted.
At any rate, here’s the article, as republished in Yahoo News: Kentucky’s trans youth dread what state health care ban will mean for them
And here is Henry’s poem:
I have to live with me now.
Right now, in the moment, in this breath.
Breathe in what I like.
And breathe out what I don’t.
Because I can’t change it.
I can’t change me right now—and as long as I am in this body, the wrong one, I don’t know if I’ll ever love me.
In fact, there are times when I’m pretty sure I hate me.
This body isn’t natural—why do I have to be so difficult.
Why couldn’t I just be normal?
Why couldn’t I convince my mind that it was wrong?
Wrong when it looked into the mirror and saw a boy.
But I am a boy…
I want to build my body as if it were tailored to fit me.
Then maybe I wouldn’t be so uncomfortable.
Uncomfy when I stand.
Uncomfy when I walk.
Uncomfy when I lie down.
Uncomfy when I sit.
As if my skin is too tight, choking me.
I wish I could change me.
Change me to fit.
But I can’t.
So, as long as I can’t change who I am, I will try.
Not to like me, but to be the best I can.
Because that’s all I can do in this moment.
And there you have it.
These words are perfection.
Henry nailed it, because within this beautiful, sad, personal prayer to himself, he explains what we transgender people feel in every ounce of the strange flesh we carry around with us.
And also within us. Because unlike cisgender people, our bodies often inhabit our souls—not the other way around.
Think about that.
I wish, when I was Henry’s age, I’d had the vocabulary and the intuitive knowledge that Henry and many trans kids now have that signals to them that they are different, and WHY.
(I thought I was a gay boy, and that insight was plenty terrifying in and of itself, because I lived in a family of post-World War II homophobes.)
The WHY is what I couldn’t attach to the sense of difference when I was a child, a teen, a young adult. I knew that while I packed a penis, I just wasn’t sure WHY I didn’t want it. But I didn’t. I never liked the goddamn thing—dopey looking and annoying. And because I was uncircumcised, I suffered through a LOT of UTIs on top of my self-loathing.
Ever had a UTI? Here’s my advice: Don’t get one.
But at the time I didn’t really crave to live a life as a girl. I just had no sense of maleness. None. Totally zero. Yet living as a male was my only option, I assumed, and it made me very uncomfortable and very, VERY restless.
My soul, that little spark of awareness as ME, my personhood, kind of rolled around in my body like a loose marble in a tin can.
I knew I simply wasn’t like most boy-kids, and it bothered the hell out of me.
My entire time as a kid was spent trying to figure out how to be a male child who would (could?) be acceptably normal to the rest of the world. But like Henry Svec, I always felt terribly uncomfortable in my own skin.
So what does all of this gender discomfort have to do with YOUR lives, gentle readers?
THIS, my lovelies: we are people who do not choose to be transgender. We simply are. It is an unfixable fact.
You need to know this truth.
So let me repeat that: There is NO fucking choice involved in the matter. None. The only choice we make is to finally reveal whom we actually are to people who are generally horrified to hear the news.
The fucking truth of us is that we are—gasp!—US.
Over the past 90 years or so, science and medicine have developed a protocol to help us actualize ourselves—to present as the people who ACTUALLY inhabit our souls. Female to male people (FTM) can surgically and hormonally transform themselves into the physically presenting men they know themselves to be inside themselves. Like Henry.
And people like me—male to female people (MTF)—often choose to transform ourselves into the women we sense ourselves to have always been.
And so it goes.
With all of these medical advances that allow we trans folks to morph into our “true” selves, why is it so problematic for so many other people? Why so much vehement, cruel, outrageous opposition to letting us live without fear, and to do whatever we choose to do medically (or not) to make us whole?
How, exactly, do our life choices make one goddamn bit of difference to ANYONE ELSE?
In April, I wrote a Transchick Chronicles essay about how almost unbelievable transphobia was then steamrolling through red states and was being actuated into laws that actually hurt people—kids, mostly. Trans kids.
I figured, well, things can’t get much worse, can they? I’ll write about it, get it out of my system and move on.
Exorcise the laser-focused hate.
Breathe, Stephanie. Breathe deep. In. Out. In. Out, Get yourself a big Safeway paper sack.
In with the good air. Out with the bad.
But no, kids, my supposedly brief visit to America’s crazytown seems now to be a permanent residency, because neither I, nor any of the other 1.6 million trans people, can just wish away the fact that half of the people in our country just fucking despise our innards.
So MUCH bizarre, loony-tune transphobic shit just continues to happen—most of it in the national insanity ward known as the Old Confederacy, as well as the mountain west where it’s apparently culturally appropriate to mate with wild animals, and parts of the midwest where waddling is considered strenuous exercise for some folks
In no particular order, let’s take a quick tour through some of the latest forests of bigotry that have sprung up in recent weeks.
Here’s a warning: Some of this scenery is really disturbing, and may cause you to reconsider your citizenship.
It’s that bad.
You think I’m exaggerating?
Read on. You’ll hopefully be dismayed at what an absolutely hateful—and dismally dopey—swath of our population has morphed into since the coming of Trump in 2016. Little did we know that Linus of “Peanuts” fame was right: the Great Pumpkin would swoop out of the darkness and make things even darker.
The Minnesota-based retail chain usually celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month (this past June) with merch that appeals to queer people and allies. Not a lot of it, but some fun items like T-shirts, hats, swim attire, shorts—you know, the usual stuff.
Republicans described this year’s collection as “Satanist.”
As you may have heard, one of the items they went fucking ballistic over was a “tuck-friendly” swimsuit that allows transgender women to go to the beach and conceal unsightly penile bulges. The idea is to better conceal one’s unfortunate packaging from inquiring eyes.
The transphobes spread the rumor that the suits were being sold in children’s sizes, so of course, you all know what THAT means: transgender people are “grooming” young boys (who MIGHT want at some point to change their gender identification) to become dysphoric and learn to HATE their penises.
Protests were organized, and some south Florida Target stores faced a boycott.
You will note “south Florida.”
Target caved. Pride-related merchandise was removed or moved to the back of some stores, where it would be less visible.
Let me explain something here. I assume most of you know this, but let me weigh in anyway:
Young boys do NOT have penises large enough to conceal. I know I didn’t. Mine barely existed when I was a kid. So, follow me here—young boys, even if they MIGHT BE TRANSGENDER—don’t actually need to conceal their tiny nubs of flesh. And conceal their mini-dicks from whom? The eyes of prying sand fleas?
My head explodes.
Cleanup on aisle 6.
And the controversy over Bud Light continues to rage.
You all know the story by now, Bud Light beer contracted with TikTok trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney to promote Bud Light during March Madness basketball coverage on CBS. She did a brief spot promoting Bud Light, and in return, Bud Light gave her ONE CAN of Bud Light with her picture on it.
And the world stopped turning on it its axis. A couple of dimwitted celebrities went ballistic, and kicked off a nationwide boycott of Bud Light—which has resulted in sales dropping a whopping 26.8 percent, and a $20 billion dollar loss for Anheuser-Busch, according to the latest data from Bump Williams Consulting and NielsenIQ. In mid-July, Bud Light fell off the list of the 10 most preferred beers in the U.S., according to poll of American drinkers conducted by YouGov. It’s now lowly number 15.
Then there’s Nikki Haley.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley
She’s the tongue-tied former governor of South Carolina and current GOP presidential candidate, who weighed in on the controversy at a campaign event, and simply couldn’t resist referring to Mulvaney as “he.” Then, she falsely linked a rise in girls’ suicidal thoughts to trans athletes.
If this idiot identifies as a Christian, Jesus is furious. I suspect her belief system is that of a devout asshole.
It’s a standard tactic of transphobic trolls like Haley: If all else fails, just misgender trans folks. They know it’s unkind, and skeezy, and totally déclassé, and they know it pisses us off and is cruel. But hey, why let THAT stop them?
It’s my opinion that Haley could use a healthy dose of estrogen in her system. It might calm her down, and remind her that decent women generally try to avoid hurting other vulnerable, more fragile human beings. (It sure has made a big difference in ME. Just sayin’.)
But then again, Ann Coulter is still upright and spreading her hate, and of course, there was Lizzie Bordon.
Haley fits right in.
Maybe estrogen isn’t the answer AFTER all.
Gender Variation Cruelty is apparently the summer sport of choice for Republicans.
Here’s another example: In May, a Mississippi federal judge denied a motion that would have allowed a 17-year-old transgender teen to wear female clothing UNDER her graduation robe. Let me repeat that: UNDER HER GOWN. But the Harrison County School District felt that her choice of female attire was inappropriate, and disruptive.
Because she was assigned male at birth and real boys don’t wear dresses and heels.
It’s apparently lost on those self-righteous alligators (as it almost always is) that this teen is NOT a real boy. He might look like one now, but I guarantee he is not
Can you people get that through your fucking skulls?
But as you all know (or least suspect) all educators are not necessarily all smart. Or well educated.
Because in Harrison County, Mississippi, cruelty is apparently a popular subject matter, along with live duck-skinning and book burning. Preferably while a queer kid is still reading the book.
Oh. And here’s a goodie:
The state of Kansas has passed a law that would ban trans athletes from participating on school and college teams that align with their gender identity. That means a trans girl will not be able to compete on any girls’ sports team. You know. bulging muscles built from years of training as a boy. That sort of thing.
Ok, pretty typical red-state dopey lawmaking. But here’s the astonishing part of this law: How will the law be enforced in Kansas? Why, sports physicals, that’s how. Of course. Genital exams. To PROVE a kid’s gender. (“Drop trou, sweetie. We wanna check yer goods!”)
This is obviously a vital piece of legislation in Kansas.
Which will affect exactly THREE student athletes.
That’s right. Only three student trans athletes compete on ANY level in the state of Kansas. (I’m surprised there are three.) But hey, the Republicans’ war on the nation’s 300,000 trans kids is high priority for their 2024 political agenda, and taking out three of them in Kansas is a GREAT start.
And yes, these antediluvian Republican anti-trans policies are starting to have REAL consequences.
In Austin, Texas, many physicians at the Dell Children’s Clinic have quit their jobs because they weren’t allowed to provide proper gender affirming care—considered to be necessary and life-saving—leaving many trans kids under the age of 18 to scramble for proper medical attention.
The clinic remains open, and promises no disruption to its patients, but the threat by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to investigate them and the treatment they were affording their young patients apparently sealed the deal for the docs who quit.
You see, Paxton and his boss, Governor Greg Abbott, have referred to medical care for trans kids as “child abuse.”
Child abuse. You gotta be fucking kidding me.
Abbott—whose constantly quizzical facial expressions prompt me to think he probably believes sucking on a popsicle is tantamount to oral sex—has been in the forefront of outlawing gender affirming care for kids.
There was more anti-transgender legislation proposed in Texas this year than in any other state. And when Texas banned gender-affirming care for trans youth, it became the largest state in the country to restrict kids’ access to critical care—and the 16th state to do so this year.
My question again: WHY?
Why are Republicans so obsessed with trans kids—with trans people?
I truly don’t get it.
So what else? Well, in May, the Department of Homeland Security revealed that threats against the LGBTQ+ community are up over last year—including threats against drag events, gender affirming care providers, and educators. Threats. Intimidation. Occasional violence.
What’s happened to this shining citadel of democracy and decency? What?! What have we become?
Monsters, Inc., apparently.
And then there’s this: A May 2023 survey conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that a MAJORITY of Americans believe a person’s gender is determined at birth and support some restrictions on gender affirming care for young people under the age of 18. But they also oppose discrimination against transgender people.
OK, I can live with that. I don’t agree with the birth part, but I also don’t believe that major medical interventions are a good thing for kids under 18. Carefully administered and supervised puberty blockers, sure. But anything more than that? Nope. Surgery? Absolutely not.
Still, 68 percent of those surveyed oppose the use of puberty blockers for trans kids 10 to 14, and 58 percent oppose them for older teens 15 to 17 years of age.
Understand that puberty blockers have been an acceptable treatment for some kids for more than a decade, and research about the effects of prolonged use of the medication is ongoing. But blockers are not prescribed to every trans kid, and those who get the medications are carefully monitored.
The Republican trolls, of course, choose to ignore reality and spread lies. “Child abuse!” they croak again to each other.
The facts are this: Prescription blockers are NOT distributed like bags of M&Ms, and are always administered in VERY controlled and carefully monitored situations. Trans kids do NOT have access to hormone based medications until they are 18 years of age, and genital reconstruction surgeries are almost NEVER approved for people under 18—anywhere in the world, pretty much—which I think is absolutely appropriate. Blockers are serious medicines because they slow and stop the development of secondary genital development. Mostly, that’s a good thing, but again, caution is so very, VERY important.
For those of us who identify as assigned male at birth (AMAB) and are male to female (MTF) identifying transgender humans, if we ultimately choose gender affirmation surgery, penile tissue has to exist in sufficient quality to build a labia, a vaginal canal, and a functioning clitoris. If a young person is on blockers for an extended period of time, their penises don’t much enlarge, and the reconstruction surgery becomes VERY problematic later on. Extra tissue has to be harvested elsewhere, which can sometimes be a painful and complicated process.
I can’t think of a single surgeon who wouldn’t want to avoid that.
(I mean, look what happens to Republican transphobes who don’t have sufficient brain tissue. Only in their cases, you really can’t harvest extra brain cells from their fat asses.)
But let’s circle back to those poll numbers: It really looks like transgender people are going to start running into increased opposition (or at least misunderstanding) on a whole range of the usual red-state hobby-horse issues: Gender neutral bathrooms, cross-gender sports participation, school curriculum that discusses queer and gender identity, medical care for trans kids (and even for trans adults), and on and on.
The poll indicates that while most respondents oppose outright transgender discrimination, that doesn’t seem to translate to lawmaking which does just that: organized efforts that promote and legalize discrimination, separation and hatred.
So, I will say this again: We trans people need to be very aware that a lot of our fellow American people just flat out, fucking hate us. And will ALWAYS hate us. They will never change their minds, and they will never be persuaded to believe otherwise.
I think it’s appropriate at this moment to pause from my Gatorade-fueled screed to present some lessons from The Bible. They are words that we should ALL pause to consider, whether we are “Christians” or not. I truly, absolutely believe and try, whenever possible, to internalize and act upon them:
* “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” – Corinthians 10:24
* “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” –Galatians 5:14
* “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” –Hebrews 13: 1-2
* “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves.”—Philippians 2:3
* “A new command I (Jesus) give you: Love one another. As I (Jesus) have loved you, so must you love one another.”–John 13:34
See something here? A commonality?
These verses constitute the ENTIRE Christian philosophy, boiled down to a SINGLE sentiment: Love your neighbor as yourself.
And yet, how many supposed Christians you know—especially ANY phony-assed “Christians” in the Confederacy—actually follow this incredibly simple concept of love and comity?
Think about it.
Because for anyone who truly identifies as Christian, the words of Jesus Christ (whose name makes up the bulk of the word “Christian”) say that—in absolute terms—disgust and hate of transgender people is fucking sinful. To not love your neighbor as yourself is to ignore the words of the very person they acknowledge to be the most important entity in their lives.
And yet, many a supposed Christian hates me and my trans siblings with a snarl in their voices, sneers on their faces, and absolute disdain in their hearts. They simply cannot fathom the pretty-much-perfect words of Jesus: That it is NOT OK to hate others.
It is NOT OK to hate ME.
It is NOT OK to hate my transgender siblings.
It is NOT OK to treat us with the cruelty and hate that is manifested in the 500+ anti-trans bills introduced and considered by dozens of legislators in dozens of states so far this year.
Believe it or not, I used to be a pretty devout Catholic. Even though I secretly identified as a gay man, I led a chaste, very closeted life. I did not fully understand the knot in my gut that indicated to me every goddamn day that I was so MUCH more than just an unactualized queer person, and that my sexuality was WAY more complicated than just my same gender attraction.
But while I was married twice, I chose not to act out. I believed in my marriage promises. I became a Catholic in my early middle age, and I found much peace in the rather lovely, quiet pageantry of the liturgy and the small-town friendliness of the diocese I chose to become a part of.
I was accepted. I attended mass almost every Saturday night for two decades.
I became a lector—a reader of scriptures. I was good at it; I’m a broadcaster, and I was trained to read words out loud. I came to love my place of worship. I did NOT, however, love the occasional queer-phobic words of some priests who led our congregation over the years.
But the hateful homilies were few and far between.
Until they weren’t.
As I started to really struggle with my hidden sexuality and my almost unknown and unidentified gender incongruence, my little church was assigned increasingly strident, conservative priests who made no secret of how much they despised queer people.
Their homilies (sermons) became more strident and frequent. Their language became more and more hateful. I felt incredibly angry and isolated and terrified—and horribly, horribly unloved and dispossessed. My depression started to careen out of control. The people whom I thought could somehow spiritually sustain me, as I led my very secret life, were increasingly signaling that they actually hated me.
I remember one homily in particular, when this arrogant prick of a priest DARED to preach to me and my congregation about the evils of the queer lifestyle, that we “should love the sinner and hate the sin.”
I am SO tired of hearing that totally bullshit, facile bromide.
He continued, saying how all transgender people CHOOSE to be whom they are because we, apparently, are constantly tempted by Satan to be incongruent fornicators who wear makeup and glittery ball-gowns.
He claimed the temptation of “illicit” same-sex fornication is so strong that we can’t resist falling into the rotting loins of evil harlots and those who choose the siren songs of queerness.
I am NOT kidding here. This motherfucker priest was so disgusting, I literally had to force myself not to scream, “Shut the fuck up. you stupid asshole,” and stomp out of mass.
But I did not. As it was, I choked back tears for the rest of the mass, and found only small comfort as I took communion. I felt dirty. I felt like I was living a lie. I was sooooo lonely within myself that I pretty much determined that if I couldn’t soon find myself a way to SOMEHOW live as my authentic self, as whomever and whatever I was, then I could NOT continue to go on. I started to plot ending my life. I knew in my heart I would likely be dead in a year.
The pain that skeezy shit of a priest caused me was overwhelming. The discomfort and anxiety I felt was, as some writers have described in words more eloquent than mine was—in a very perverse way—almost exquisite. Because only when I wept secretly and silently in my bed at 3 a.m. (or loudly in the shower) did I feel that I was suffering enough.
It was, I suppose, a cleansing despair.
Because the arrogant, foul, putrid lies that padre had spewed—ABOUT ME, and YES, MY PEOPLE—had totally worn me down.
He had won, I thought. I never wanted to see the inside of my beautiful little church again, and I never wanted to hear another word from that macho pig-fucker’s lie-telling mouth ever again.
And then God seemed to intervene.
Covid hit. And there were no more live masses. We were told we should watch mass online.
The decision—for me—was made simple. I did NOT watch.
And I have never set foot in another church since. Not a Catholic church.
(I did attend an AIDS memorial in a Methodist church this past December. But I did that only to honor some dear friends who died from that awful disease.)
And then, three months later, with the words of that dreadful man reverberating in my head, my world blew up, and I came out—first as queer, and then as a transgender person.
My story of betrayal by so-called “men of God”—who are about as godly as a diseased eggplant—is not particularly unusual. The people who should have been preaching love and acceptance, the words of JESUS, no less, are instead consumed by the evil sensibilities of doctrine and ancient lies.
And yet, talk about the perverse oddity of everyday life, the therapist I came out to was a young, wonderfully kind and understanding Episcopal priest just out of the UC Berkeley Divinity School who took me on as a client while he was waiting to be assigned his first congregation.
He saved me. A young man of God, who truly WAS of God.
Stephanie “The Transchick” Haskins
I know trans people who have experienced the same emotional displacement, and have lost something precious as a result: Faith. Faith in something we considered to be useful and important in our roller coaster lives.
So, gentle readers, I query all of you: Have YOU ever sensed the profound hatred that most trans people experience (or at least sense) every day of our lives?
The internet is now filled with stories almost every day about ordinary people—parents of trans kids—mostly in the usual-suspect states like Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina, Iowa, and the old (and new) Confederacy who have determined that the lives of their precious transgender kids are more important than continuing to reside in places where they can’t live safely or no longer get the medically affirming care their kids so badly need.
So they pack up, sell their homes, and leave for states like Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota and California where they know they’ll be allowed to live in peace and help their kids grow up with at least modest chance for happiness.
Listen to the words of Kyle Freel, the father of a trans daughter who lives in Missouri. “I never thought we’d be refugees in the United States, but now we’re being forced out,” he said.
This year alone, Missouri lawmakers have introduced almost 50 bills aimed at limiting LGBTQ+ rights, the second highest behind Texas, with half of those bills restricting the rights of trans people—usually kids.
Freel is not alone.
As of early May, a non-profit organization called TRANSport had received more than 100 applications from families of trans kids who are looking for assistance in leaving the United States to relocate to Europe.
Consider that: Not just moving across the country to a safe, blue state, but out of the country. Completely.
How sad. How shocking—sort of.
Some of these would-be emigrants are adults who are simply exhausted from being harassed just for being trans. God forbid someone might be transgender AND an activist because that sets you up for death threats in places like North Dakota. Or Texas. Or Florida, Or Idaho. Or Montana.
TRANSport aims to provide financial assistance and help preparing documents and dispensing advice to transgender Americans who have had enough and no longer want to lead exhausting lives navigating the bigotry and hatred here in the good ol’ US of A.
Yeah, baby: the land of the free and the brave. But please: Be White and straight and cisgender.
I haven’t seen any definitive studies that indicate exactly how many families with transgender kids have chosen to leave red states where their medical lifelines have been severed. I cannot say just how widespread the trans diaspora is or might become. It is likely not significant at this point, but I do believe that if red state, transphobic legislators continue their seemingly unending assault on our health, societal safety and general well-being, the brain drain to less phobic blue states might become significant.
Let’s get real here: who wants to stay in a place where you don’t feel accepted, wanted or safe? Both Texas and Florida have almost 100,000 trans people living within their borders according to a recent UCLA School of Law study, and if most of those people have no sense of security or acceptance and decide to pick up and leave for friendlier places, that’ll have a pretty significant economic impact at some point.
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group in the nation, has issued safety alerts warning queer people about visiting Florida. Let’s say an average vacation in Florida costs $5000, and let’s say 5000 queer people decide to travel elsewhere—that’s $25 million that Florida tourist destinations aren’t going to harvest. Yeah, maybe that’s chump change in the scheme of things, but still—it’s $25 million going to communities that exist someplace else.
That’s not happy news for Florida Governor Ron “These Boots Were Made for Walking” DeSantis. A queer boycott is VERY bad PR because, as we all know, little boycotts can very rapidly turn into BIG boycotts. Just ask the good ol’ boys at Anheuser-Busch.
Lots of gay bars across the country have also dropped Bud Light from their beer menus because Anheuser-Busch caved so easily to right wing pressure and backpedaled from its small gesture of support of Dylan Mulvaney. Not only are farm animal D-listers like Kid Rock supposedly not drinking Bud Light (though it’s still apparently for sale at his Nashville bar), but neither are queer people. Anheuser-Busch not only wound up getting its anal cavity expanded by overweight, gun-slinging White guys in camo fatigues, but also from drag queens and sissies and lipstick lesbians in boas and dog collars.
Being cowardly hasn’t worked out too well for the Bud boys, has it?
I’ll have a Miller Lite, please.
(But the good news: Dylan Mulvaney is just as cute as she was back in March. In case you were wondering.)
Turnabout is fair play: what if the trans/queer community not only boycotted travel to Florida, but also orange juice? Grapefruits? Avocados? Any and all Florida produce?
Look what happened nearly 50 years ago because Anita Bryant—a second rate pseudo celebrity—couldn’t resist bashing gay people. Florida suffered some real economic damage back then when gay folks decided that Florida citrus products weren’t all that necessary for their vitamin C consumption.
After Anita managed to stuff her head up her ass with her homophobic words of “Christian” wisdom, she became a national punchline, and pretty much disappeared into the dust bins of time.
What great memories.
Anti-gay activist Anita Bryant in the 1970s
And then there’s this:
A Wells Fargo study indicates that states with higher concentrations of people who identify as queer/transgender have shown higher rates of economic growth than states with smaller LGBTQ+ populations.
In June, The Hill reported on a study examining the gross state products (GSP) of all 50 states between 2010 and 2019. The study’s authors say they saw a “positive relationship” between higher LGBTQ+ populations and greater economic growth—probably because queer people tend to be younger and better educated than the average American grownup. Not to mention that more young adults now more readily identify as LGBTQ+—as much as 20 percent of the so-called Generation Z.
The authors admit there are LOTS of factors that lead to their conclusions, but they did go so far as to call them “remarkable.”
My sense is that little by little, queer and trans people in this country are starting to flex their economic muscles, and that Red America tortures us and marginalizes us at its peril. Here in California, where I live safely and peacefully with the largest transgender population in the country, our state’s prosperity continues to boom as we edge ever closer to becoming the fifth largest economy in the world.
California is likely the most queer friendly state in the country, and I doubt that it’s purely coincidence that we’re so wealthy. It’ll be fascinating to see how Florida and Texas will stack up in five years.
And yet as I type this, I fully understand how lucky I am in comparison to so many, MANY other trans souls who struggle for survival every goddamn day.
Where I live in Sacramento, the capitol of California, the major Pride events took place during the second week of June, and I have to tell you, gentle readers, I was absolutely astounded at how elaborate and massive the celebrations were this past month. Despite all the negative backlash against the LGBTQ+ community nationwide this year, the Pride festival on the State Capitol Mall stretched for a quarter of a mile. Hundreds of booths lined the greenbelt area on both sides. Sound stages featured great local rock and pop bands, dance troupes, and drag performances.
Scenes from LGBTQ+ Pride June 2023 in Sacramento, California
It was absolutely gigantic. Thousands of people, mostly under 50, celebrated queer pride loudly and joyfully—but there were plenty of older folks like me there as well. They jammed the grounds over two days. It was peaceful and fabulous.
But ya know what was most impressive? While many of these folks taking part in this wonderful civic celebration were obviously queer, a huge number of straight people showed up as well. Despite the headlines I referred to earlier.
Were they there to celebrate with us? Maybe. But more likely, just to have a good time. I DO buy into the notion that queer people REALLY do know how to have the most fun.
I was so, SO proud of my city. And state.
While much of the rest of the nation spent those two days stewing in heat, tornadoes and homo/transphobic hate, Sacramento rocked its mellow, accepting, laid back, queer-vibed celebration.
There are other flickers of hope and support, as well.
In early June, President Joe Biden said the Republicans behind efforts that target the queer community are “callous” and “hysterical” and he described their efforts as “totally, thoroughly unjustified and ugly.”
“These are our kids,” he said, “these are our neighbors; it is cruel and it is callous.”
That word: Callous. Yes.
Yes, it is.
He went on to say: “It’s not somebody else’s kids, it’s all our kids, and our children are the kite strings that hold our national ambitions aloft. It matters a great deal how we treat everyone in this country.”
Those are important and appropriate words. What a shame so many Americans apparently think they are bullshit.
And more good news:
Late last month, a federal judge struck down an Arkansas law that banned hormone treatments, puberty blockers, or surgery for transgender minors.
The court ruled that it violated due process and equal protection rights of trans kids and their families, as well as the first amendment rights of health care providers because it prohibited them from referring patients elsewhere.
Of course, as I said, NO doctor in the country will perform gender affirmation surgeries on anyone under the age of 18, but hey, Arkansas legislators rarely let facts get in the way of making laws that are aimed at hurting people, Especially trans kids.
The ruling was great news in other ways, not just because it’s a big win for Arkansas trans kids, but also because it likely made Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ teeth hurt. (I never could tell if she was in great pain or hysterically happy during her tenure as Trump’s press secretary. She always looked like she had terrible gas. Lying daily for a traitor will do that to you.)
At any rate, the battle continues.
We trans people face brutal conflicts we don’t want to fight, and shouldn’t have to fight. The battles are entirely based on evil misperceptions promulgated by people who simply can’t stand the idea of just leaving us the fuck alone. We queer folks have always tried to take care of our own, and until the past year or so, there wasn’t a whole lot of unnecessary interference. At least not legislated interference.
Those were the days, my friends, those were the days.
Now, we are the latest minority the Republicans have chosen to torture. One of the tiniest. And most fragile.
The elderly, entitled White men in power—sexually frustrated bigots to the end—have found an issue that finally, inexorably, defines who they really are.
They are the collective version of Vladimir Putin. They choose to kill children, and delight in the resultant blood stains.
If only, as 13-year-old Henry Svec reminds us, they were consumed with understanding, as opposed to hate.
Then maybe I wouldn’t be so uncomfortable.
Uncomfy when I stand.
Uncomfy when I walk.
Uncomfy when I lie down.
Uncomfy when I sit.
As if my skin is too tight, choking me.
I wish I could change me.
Change me to fit.
But I can’t.
The battle is on, people.
To the barricades, dear readers. We have nothing to lose now, except ourselves and each other.
Stephanie Haskins is hard at work on the next chapters of “The Transchick Chronicles.” Sign up for our e-newsletter here to be alerted when they’re published.
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