Crossposted from my account at DailyKOs...
We have seen the face of the enemy...and he is above!!
I have been an openly out transgender woman for over twenty years. I fully transitioned on January 21, 1997. Prior to that I had partially been transitioned two years (living full-time as a woman, except at work.) For nearly as long, I have been an activist, working to achieve equality and fair treatment for the transgender community, whom I consider my family.
In my time, I have managed to be a part of passing rights legislation in Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky, and Austin Texas (T was not added as a protected class under Chapter 7 of the City Charter until 2004 — I initiated this effort.) I have fought, successfully, to have transgender added as a protected class in the bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association (inclusion was already our reality, however, it was never in writing, until I made it so in 2014...the process started in 2013...it was a two year process because of parliamentary procedure that governs these sorts of changes to the bylaws of the UUA.)
More recently, I have fought on the front lines in North Carolina, against HB-2, and am still fighting because the so-called repeal was anything but a repeal. I am even running as this state’s first openly-transgender candidate for our State Legislature. Last year, I also authored and was the main sponsor of an Action of Immediate Witness at UUA’s General Assembly in 2016, in Columbus, Ohio relating to taking a stand against HB-2 and similar legislation passed or pending, or future...in North Carolina and any other states. It passed unanimously. During that most recent event, in Columbus, I had occasion to stand two feet away from Westboro Baptist Church protesters...and not for the first time...as a Peacekeeper angel — but this time, the wings I wore were the same wings that had just been used to protect the funerals of the Pulse victims.
I have stood with BLM protesters and I have stood with Muslims and many others against anti-Muslim protesters. I was one of the volunteers for the local Women’s March in January, here in Raleigh, NC. Through it all, people have told me how brave they thought I was...a description I have always categorically rejected.
You see...in order to be brave...one must first be afraid. I never have been. Until now. Until the election of a wanna-be fascist dictator who has emboldened the White Nationalist, neo-Nazi, White Supremacist underbelly of our society, and given them voice, power and prominence they have not enjoyed in this country since at least the 1960’s. Until Trump, I have never been afraid. Now I am.
Bravery can best be described as being afraid, knowing you are afraid...and yet saddling that bull up and riding him anyway! And, boy howdy that is what I intend to do. It is what I have been doing since the first fascist was elected President, and it is what I will continue to do...for as long as it is necessary, for so long as I draw breath.
But make no mistake. I am afraid now. For the first time in my life, I have had to think about things I never thought I would have to. For the first time in my life, the history lessons I read about in school, about the Jews of Germany in the 1930’s — are more than simply academic. I now KNOW what they felt, I know what they faced...first hand. Because I have had to think as they no doubt did then.
WHO will I trust with my very life? What if someone I thought was a friend turns out not to have been? What if I trust the wrong people? Where is the safe pipeline out of this country, should the need arise to use it? How will I manage to get to that pipeline and use it...and how will I have the resources to start over in a new place...if I manage to get through that pipeline? This is the history of the Jews of Germany, the present reality of Syrian refugees today, and the possible future of LGBT Americans, and other disfavored groups in America.
This is what refugees today face...refugees from Syria, who only want to flee the violence of their home country...and who are being turned away from safe harbor here in America, by Donald Trump...and it may not be an entirely bad thing, because if things get as bad as I fear they might here...those refugees might be no safer here than they were at home. And I am acutely aware the possibility exists I may no longer be safe in this country.
Who would ever have thought that an American citizen might have to think this way? Most in my community, whom I see as family...probably have not thought about this as intensely and as consciously as I have. They are also the ones who may not survive if the darkest chapters of what is currently unfolding in America cannot be averted (and right now there is no guarantee that they can be) though I and many good people here will do what they can to try to avert it.
Some may say I am being alarmist...and maybe I am. I guess they probably told the Jews that same thing back in 1934, 1935, 1936, yeah?? Look how well that turned out for those who did not take warning, take heed and pay attention!
Will we be able to avoid writing a new dark chapter of American history? That question is yet to be answered. So I do what oppressed people before me have done...hoped for the best, fought for change, and prepared for the worst. Because if the worst nightmares become reality, I will need an escape route, and so will my transgender sisters and brothers.
Will history remember Trump right along with Torquemada, Robespierre, Pincohet, Pol Pot and Stalin? I do not know, but I know I already class them together.
Right now, in Trump America, transgender citizens are Public Enemy Number One. And we feel very much under attack. Consider the emergence of hateful bathroom legislation in Texas, the rescinding of Obama-era guidance for transgender bathroom use for school students, and the recent transgender military ban. Consider the stacking of our Courts with ideologues like Gorsuch.
Consider the ugliness we saw on full display this weekend in Charlottesville. Consider that we have a president who sees fit to condemn every act of violence from a POC or Muslim immediately, and yet had to be pressured into condemning acts of violence and murder when the perpetrator of said violence and murder was a White Nationalist/White Supremacist.
Consider that first he [Trump] would only lay the blame on “many sides” and would not call out the KKK, and White Nationalists by name. And yet is the first to condemn acts of violence when the perpetrator is a POC or a Muslim. Consider that only after DAYS of being pressured, would Trump mention, BY NAME...and condemn BY NAME...groups like the KKK and White Nationalists. And then, in a wink-and-nod to his supporters who are White Nationalists, retweeted a Tweet about Chicago...from a person known to be mixed up in the Pizzagate BS.
“Chicago,” as you no doubt know...is now code for POC violence. This is how they say it without saying it. This is the dog whistle. Add to this the recent Eighth Circuit ruling that says we have no Constitutional right to film politicians or police in public. How many bad cops shooting how many unarmed victims — faced charges because a citizen videoed them in the act of grossly violating the civil rights of a suspect?
Take all of this collectively and you begin to understand the source of my very real fear...and why I am beginning to think in terms of preparation for the worst. In order to continue to fight, first one must continue to be alive. And should the need arise for me to flee, and I am successful, I will be working to help others flee on the same path I took, and helping them on the other end of that pipeline...such as I am able. Such I consider my sacred duty. I can do no less for my family, and for my country.
No matter the outcome of events as they play out; no matter the outcome of my own political campaign - I stand, and will remain standing...on the side of the marginalized, the oppressed, the disenfranchised. I stand against and will continue to stand against...those who seek to place themselves in a position of superiority over others; who seek to harm others, and who seek to accrue benefits to themselves at the expense of others. I stand with the LGBT, with the POC, the Muslims, the disabled and the elderly and the poor. I stand with all those who simply wish to live in peace, to build a better life for themselves — and who seek to do so without harming others.
It is my sincerest hope that the dark chapters I fear are coming will never be written. But in the event they are, I will need to be prepared. And I will have to carefully consider who I can trust. And I will need faith, a lot more of it than I am accustomed to having. And, until this last election, I never had to think about such possibilities. Now is the time I must be brave. Now is the first time I will have a chance to be brave, because NOW, for the first time, I am actually afraid.