Our Trans Community Shines

Watching Gavin, Laverne, Janet and others this week has given me so much hope.

When I was younger, I had no idea that trans people existed. All I knew was a deep, inexplicable discomfort with who I was and a longing for connection to the world. Ever a source of shame, as a young person I wanted to crawl outside of my body and exist in another universe where the sight of myself in the mirror did not make me want to die. It is hard to recall those feelings but they are real, they are okay, and they are part of my history.

I had a loving family, an incredible education, and opportunities for my future — because of my whiteness, my access to wealth, my geographic location — that few people are afforded. Yet, despite all this, I felt such deep and unrelenting shame that I never imagined a future for myself beyond those troubling early years. I had no idea that I had place inside my body, within a community, and as a survivor in the world.

By the grace of God, the love of family, and due to the many privileges I was born with, I found my way to college and learned I could be queer and then trans, and my world opened up. People made space for me, they mentored me, they listened to me. In turn, I learned to make space, to mentor, to listen.

Over the past ten years, I have have been given the gift of learning from my trans elders, my peers, and the youth. I have learned and am still learning our histories.

Narratives of our trans-ness cannot begin nor can they end within the constraints of our legal system. We are more rich, more beautiful, more complex than a litigation narrative could ever capture. Our advocacy should never be constrained by the limits of what seems winnable. Our struggles are too urgent, our material needs too great, our visions too transformative.

This week I saw all of that richness, that vision and beauty that makes our trans movements and our trans experiences so incredible. In the face of efforts by the Trump administration to signal to trans youth that they are not worthy of protection in school, people mobilized to share their truths, to care for one another, to shine light not just on our unwillingness to be discarded but on our unwillingness to separate our fight from so many others.

On television, Laverne Cox and Gavin Grimm so beautifully shared themselves and their stories. In print, Janet Mock put to bed the lie that banishing young people to separate facilities is anything but cruel discrimination. Across the country, people organized, people listened, people joined together.

Our stories defy the logic of our opponents. We exist and no amount of sanitized rejection of who we are can deny that. You cannot shame a generation of beautiful young people into believing their bodies must be cast away, the light of their self-awareness distinguished, the hope of their future curtailed. No. We absolutely will not stand for that.

You can take your shifting rhetoric about “biological gender” — invented only to exclude us from public space — and imagine a world without us but you will lose. Our fight is too strong, our light is too bright, and we are only growing in our power.

Thank you, beautiful community, for keeping me alive all these years. I hope I can return the favor.

Lawyer, dad, queer, pats fan

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