A Love Letter To My Trans Family
Earlier today, I spoke on the phone with Debi Jackson, the incredible mother of a young daughter who is trans. Debi is a fierce advocate for her child and for the entire trans community. I had seen her speak with such tenacity and love for her daughter before and today on the phone, her beautiful vision to build community through love brought me comfort on this stressful Election Day.
Though it was just hours ago that we spoke, the conversation feels now like a lifetime ago. Our plans to humanize trans existence seem more complex tonight and the prospect of building campaigns that center trans young people seem terrifying and dangerous. And yet, the fights for survival that people of color, immigrants, indigenous communities, queer people, trans people and others have had to wage since the creation of this country have always been dangerous and terrifying. There is no safety in a system that was created to harm and destabilize — through individually perpetrated and state imposed mechanisms of violence and death, safety is a privilege reserved for those in power.
After tonight’s election results — the culmination of a campaign centered on white supremacy — our work is just beginning. I feel such a strong instinct to give up the fight because I can’t imagine what it looks like under these conditions. But as a white person, it is my duty to keep fighting, to take up the charge to dismantle white supremacy, to put myself and my body on the line to support my family, friends, and colleagues of color. This means fighting even harder to stop the murders of Black trans women and other trans women of color; standing in the way — legally, physically, emotionally — of efforts to incarcerate and deport my trans siblings; standing in solidarity with trans people organizing against hateful laws like HB2 in North Carolina and the future bills we will see this legislative session.
So while everything seems impossible, I can’t help but to walk into my sleeping four year-old’s room and look at her taking calm, unknowing breaths and realize that she is going to wake up to a world that scares her and it is my job to fight to make that world better. Not just for my kid but for the young people I work with, and fight with, and believe in. Not just because I want my loved ones to be safe but because our legal, political, and social structures were created to benefit people like me and to inherit that benefit, comes with a duty to disrupt it.
I don’t know what the next day or weeks or months will bring in our fight for trans justice, racial justice, immigrant justice, and an end to mass incarceration. I will take a moment to pause and mourn and connect with people— to remind myself that our humanity includes feelings of devastation and grief. And then I will pick up the pieces and start rebuilding with you and scheming with you and loving you.
To my community members who feel like there is no future after tonight, please know that I am here to talk or listen or organize or strategize. As feelings of desperation set in, I know that we will hold each other and lift each other up.
This changes our course, perhaps, but it does not shake our resolve to fight relentlessly for our community.
In the first speech I heard Debi Jackson give about her daughter, she closed with this, in response to people who would tell her and her daughter that she is a sinner and going to hell:
“My God taught us to love one another. Jesus sought out those who others rejected. Some people choose to embrace biblical verses that appear to say transgender people are being wrong. I choose to focus on versus such as 1 Samuel 16:7 which says, “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or height for I have not rejected him’.” The Lord does not look at things other people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. My daughter is a girl in her heart. She knows it, God knows it, and that’s good enough for me.”
Tonight I heed Debi’s message. We find our truth in our hearts and comfort in our faith systems whatever they may be. Our stories must continue to be told and our fight must continue to grow.
I am feel blessed to be trans and to work with all of you and to situate our struggle for trans justice within the broader fights against white supremacy, mass incarceration and the maintenance of the current structures of power.
The work is painful and unrelenting but we are relentless and imaginative. I am here and ready and perpetually humbled by all the brilliance around me in this fight.
I love you, my family. Thank you for taking me in and teaching me to survive and transform.