I say this in the wake of a mass shooting in Orlando at a prominent gay club. 53 injured, 50 killed. There where hostages, standoff. Gunfire. Obviously. My fears where not quelled by any of the comments I saw on the first article.
“This is what happens when we let refugees in.”
“And Islam is PEACEFUL.”
“Liberals want to attack white Christians and say they’re the bad guys, but Islam..”
“Many people died today. It doesn’t matter what they where or what religion the shooter was. What matters is…”
“If I had a gun, I would’ve protected everyone in the club by firing…”
I started filtering them out after a while. Many inconsistencies pop up: the gunner was a U.S citizen, his religious parents are heart-broken, ashamed and devastated by the loss of life, along with the loss of their son. At this moment, a pastor from Texas tweets out Bible verses in support of the shooter. The shooter is automatically a terrorist, the deadliest mass shooter in history, a threat to America.
Frankly, I want to be sick. The reporters do not care about the death of my LGBT siblings. The commenters, when not spewing hateful commentary, ignore and gloss over the issue-as well-meaning as those writers are. When a bomb goes off in a target restroom, the source of so much recent strife, it’s a blip in the news. When queer trans women are strangled by U.S soldiers and drowned in a toilet bowl, it’s a fringe story. When they’re beaten in front of police stations, when young queer men are ripped out of bathroom stalls and beaten by security, when cis men accused of “faggotry” are anally raped in school locker rooms, lesbian women beaten for being too ‘masculine’, when gay men in Orlando can’t give blood in this time of need: it’s nothing. The AIDS crisis becomes a minor hiccup. The Regeans become gods. Our lives are nothing to them.
When I read the comments or the headlines, an image appears in my mind. I see a woman on New York subway. She’s dressed in a grey hoodie. She kind of looks like my Aunt (luckily, she’s not my aunt). A sliver cross dangles grossly from her neck, hanging out for all to see. She screams at the camera, points, rages. Her brow twisted in disgust. I know she’ll get up and start chains get the camera woman around the train, hitting her and screaming obscenity at her while bystanders sit by, doing nothing. The camera person was a queer transgender woman. If the woman with the cross had a gun to ‘protect herself’ how would that encounter have gone?
A specific religion is irrelevant. This is true. But who is getting attacked, and on Pride, does matter. We are under attack. Caught in a crossfire of fear, hatred and ignorance. When everyone is too polarized and political to bring up the heart of the issue. They tiptoe around their own hatred but reek of it, whether that’s through painfully cringe worthy ignorance, stupidity or flat-out disrespect for the lives lost. More of the countless death of my people becomes a debate.
Going to PTHC opened my eyes. (Philly Trans Health Conference). There where wonderful religious people there, queer religious people, children, adults. It was beautiful. I felt safe. I felt like my mothers words finally applied: change is slow, but it’s happening. Today that rings falsely in my ears. I want to hug her and hold her, and ask her why. Why? She’s not here, so I ask myself. What is the price of change? How many people have to die for it?
I’ m so, so afraid. I’m terrified. I want to weep. Sorry if this one is sloppily written. Rest in Power.
“Your man Bernie is really getting on my nerves right now. Trump will be President because of him; it’s his fault…”
I don’t usually ignore my mother, but this was a special time when I did. what felt like two months had passed since we’d discussed who we each wanted to vote for, and while I was in support of Bernie at the time- someone who my mom proclaimed to be a “good man”- my faith in both democratic candidates had dwindled utterly in that time. Not that that was why I ignored her; not why the left half of my brain made up some half assed excuse about me liking Jill Stein and trying to redeem myself from her sudden, angry accusation. Of what? I’m not sure, really.
“We had a black president and now we’ll have an orange one, orange is the new black!” She exclaimed, paraphrasing a meme I’d seen screen grabbed from twitter onto tumblr about four weeks ago. It must’ve finally reached Facebook.
She was vacuuming I think, I’m not sure. I spend the day inside mostly, surrounded by our four dogs and the soft filter of sunlight coming through our windows. Wake up at three and go to bed at five o’clock in the morning. Each day becomes a blur of white and the same few feet of brown kitchen tile.
Her agony is restless and hot, the by-product of a point of view that pins one person as good and others as evil, I tend not to agree with that stance on morality even if I fall into it plenty of times. We’re in that place where a finger has to be pointed somewhere, it’s a coping mechanism. If you acknowledged that nothing is substantial, that binaries and barriers and rules of life we construct don’t really carry over into reality, you’d fall apart.
Okay, to preface that. I don’t have a job and have been essentially stuck in my house for a two months. I can’t drive at age nineteen you can chuckle at the “nineteen” and causal drop of preachy existentialism in that last bit. Hey, it’s just that time in my life, you know? I’ll get past it. In the meantime: The job search has been futile, the old workplace is full of new people and hasn’t gotten back to me. My parents have their own lives and their own jobs: if I wanted to finally get a car and drive off to freedom (which I do) would there be time to teach me? To take me to the DMV? How would I pay for car insurance, with no job?
You might be getting the picture now. I want to get out of here. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. The smile lines on my mom’s face, my step dad’s laugh, me little sister’s sass, my older brother’s love of cartoons and comics, similar to my own- I adore them. For most of the school year I missed them. Sometimes I felt invisible at school. I didn’t realize the feeling would carry over.
“Hey ________ make yourself useful and come here!”
My little sister came home at three, usually smiling. Sometimes towering over my Grandmother, clad in the Catholic school uniform that my Mother, my aunts, and the cousins on my step dad’s side all wore to the same school. The blank is for my old name. I haven’t used it in what feels like forever, but then again, forever can be a day. Forever can start at five am like clockwork, and extend to the sunrise, to quiet moments sitting in the floor in a pile of panting dogs, brown eyes flickering in your direction every so often. I’m pushing this metaphor. You get it.
Back to the point. She almost always uses my new name, it’s been common in our household for some time now, even if they still tend to call me “she” no matter how dark my mustache gets (I’ve been on hormones for seven months, roughly). My mom’s family has been a point of pain for me. Another reason I want so badly to get out of here, as much as it aches to do that.
“We’ll tell them over Christmas break.”
“Your cousin and I are working out a time to tell them.”
“We’ll tell them this weekend, don’t worry.”
“We’ll tell them over spring break.”
My life with my mother is a series of next times, this weekends, eventuallys and soons. I mean, better then my biological Father, whose become a series of short texts messages. But it still grates on me, makes me hide out from her family. She chuckles when I bring it up. Does she understand how awful it feels to want to hide from your own family? She does. She was the black sheep of her family. What changed?
She’s in he room next to me, I’ve been waiting to see her all day. I’m here typing instead. I’ve become almost entirely transparent. Good pun, yes. But as cheesy as it is, it is somewhat true. I feel insubstantial from lack of exercise. The days passes the same every time, with the same people messaged, the same things happening, the same silences in our empty house, branching off into nothing. I wonder how I became so different from them. How I became a male name with a “she” in front of it, or a lump under the covers when the sun is out.
They say sadness is a killer, but I don’t agree. I think boredom is a killer. When my Grandmother on my dad’s side recently had a stroke, I emailed those grandparents and finally sent another email to an old family friend of mine. Each day passes and the ones I love get further away from me. The people who I cherish the most- I’m letting them pass before, like dust on the kitchen window glass. My sister goes off to therapy with my mom some afternoons, I want to go. I wish I could go. School is already so expensive, how could I ask them to do that? And my hormones too. Suddenly insurance doesn’t cover it and it’s 70 dollars a pop.
I’ve started to wonder if my dreams are passing me by too. Reassurance is a beautiful thing, but not a permanent idea.
“You’re a late bloomer, don’t worry.” That’s what I say to myself.
When I look down at my phone and see people I know, they’re going out, communicating with each other, working interesting jobs in new places. I constantly see the post about famous people who “got a late start”, I use it as another crutch. It doesn’t hold up too well. Try to go to bed at one, get excited that you’ll finally sleep at a reasonable time, get restless, look at porn, jerk off, listen to a podcast- it’s five o clock and the sun is up, go to sleep. Wake up at eleven, stay in bed and sleep until three. Wander the house, take care of the dogs. My brother isn’t around- he’s two years my senior, and has work. My sister is at softball. Put in my earbuds and eat. Sit outside. Eat more. Doodle. Look at my newsfeed. It’s basically the same news every single day.
Everyone begins to come home. Eat diner. Walk around some more. Text the same five people, one answers. One asks to roleplay. you’ve actually grown totally bored of it and haven’t been in the mood to do it for a month unless it could, in some context, get you off. She doesn’t know that. Play along. Eat. Repeat middle steps until you get into bed and repeat those steps. So on, so forth. Maybe someday, I’ll really prove myself. Until then. Goodnight.