Creating art from suffering is a healing act. It allows me to become unstuck, find hope, and take steps forward. But this year, I’ve found it overwhelmingly difficult to create. Many thank you’s to folx who checked in after noticing the decline in my posting, publishing, and speaking. This kindness has provided added motivation to return to my artistry. I find it necessary to provide a framework for how I will continue. This post is more for myself than others, a way to combat my daily, and at times paralyzing, fear. I make an active choice to be public about my experience, even though doing so will make me more of a target than I already am.
I believe I will die a violent death, soon. I am thirty-four years old.
Macro-level factors that contribute to this fear:
· 300 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced nationwide in half a year. Several are bans on transgender-related healthcare.
· The overturning of Roe v. Wade.
· Clarence Thomas writing that the Supreme Court should revisit all cases built on legal footing similar to Roe v. Wade, including cases that guarantee the right to consensual same-sex sexual relations, and same-sex marriage.
· The nationwide spike in hate crimes against transgender people.
Micro-level factors that contribute to this fear:
· Being attacked on the street in broad daylight for being visibly queer and brown.
· Surviving more than one hate crime.
· Threats of violence.
· Nightmares of lynchings, stabbings, beatings, and dismemberment.
· When I’ve been misgendered or publicly harassed for being trans, no one gave a damn. No one did anything to stop it and they blamed me for not speaking up to stop it, despite how unsafe it is for me to do so.
· Secondary victimization. I am a mental health counselor and supervisor who specializes in trans and queer affirming care. My friends are reporting an increase in hate. So are my clients, my supervisees’ clients, and my supervisees.
· I personally know one BIPOC trans elder older than 55. One.
I used to live my life believing there was a forty percent chance that I would be murdered for the work I do. I now operate on the belief that there is an eighty percent chance.
I want to live to be forty. I want to believe in a future past that. I wish I could take for granted that someday I will retire. I hope I can live out the dream I had of my elderly self working in the garden beside their mountain cabin.
Old age is a privilege. Blessed are those who make it.
After Roe v. Wade was overturned, Clarence Thomas showed his whole ass, and so many more bans on transgender healthcare went into place, I seriously investigated fleeing the country. It was all I could think about for weeks, my brain spinning over an escape plan. In short, I can’t find a way out. There are so many barriers, several of which would tear me, my wife, and our dog apart. I fought to have my family. I will not destroy it, even if that means forfeiting a longer life.
So where does that leave me? How do I bear this acute fear, believing there is no escape, and continue to live my life? These are the questions I’ve mulled over for months. I don’t know that I’ve answered them fully, but these are the steps I am determined to take.
Steps to surviving my own end:
1) I accept that I will die a violent death, soon. In accepting that fate, I am not welcoming it. Instead, I acknowledge this fear, based on real evidence and lived experience. I make the choice not to waste my mental and emotional energy railing against it.
2) I live as if I am dead. If I am dead, I have nothing to lose. I can chase those things I believed impossible, because, why not?
3) I will grieve my own end, whenever and however, I need to grieve it.
4) I choose to live as meaningful a life as I can, however short that may be. I will continue to act in accordance with my values and fight for equity and equality whenever possible.
5) I will rest. My rest is revolutionary.
6) I will find joy wherever possible.
As an act of resistance, I am taking on a new project. Over thirty days, I will post about one thing that brought me joy. Why is this revolutionary? Because the world wants me dead. It wants me to give up and despair. I will not succumb. I will embrace my sadness and be brave. I will be visible because that is the only way things will change for those who are to come. It is the only way to liberate myself and those that came before.
Someone once asked me about the water themes in my work. My answer: Water is life. Trans people are life. We are as natural as the oceans, rivers, and rain. We are the dusk and the dawn, holy, sacred, and necessary for both day and night. You cannot succeed in ridding yourselves of us. Your ancestors have tried for centuries and failed. No matter what obstacles surround water, it breaks through. So too will we.
I am as water; I will find a way.