Life during germ time

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Some people think that being transgender is a mere choice, just a bunch of people who — apologies to my non-trans women siblings — just want to wear a dress and makeup and call themselves women. That any one of us would continue to exist and be out in this climate lays bare how ridiculous these notions are.

I would say that being a transgender or nonbinary person in 2020 means you are an absolute badass.

Scotus holds our rights in their hands, with a decision expected this summer that could strip us of our rights from being considered a part of the Title XII, which could have a domino effect, removing our rights up and down the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Not intent on waiting for SCOTUS, the Trump Administration has attempted to roll back LGBTQ rights — and especially trans rights — from nearly every department in the federal government. I barely need to remind anyone that they removed us from the military, but it goes much deeper than that — with three-plus years of work hamstringing the rights of transgender people.

Meanwhile, the general attitude against transgender people has eroded, as the right paints transgender and nonbinary people as brainwashed, sex offenders, deluded or just plain evil. 

Further, a lot of the above is augmented by an increase in racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and a whole host of sentiments against anyone who isn’t white, male, straight, able-bodied, and rich.

Striding right into the middle of all this, of course, is yet another dark specter, as the world falls into the grip of COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world. As our government continues to weed out anyone who they view as otherwise undesirable, we face even harder times due to a killer virus and the economic hardship left in its wake.

In the midst of this much hardship rides each of us, living in a world where even if we contract this virus — assuming hospitals are not entirely overwhelmed by the time you read these words, of course — we could still find ourselves mocked in the hospital, treated as lesser people, misgendered, deadnamed, blamed for our condition or even refused care for being nonbinary or transgender.

Today, we find ourselves living in an era of sheltering in place, where it will be all that harder to be ourselves in this world.

Some of us might be living at home or with partners and family members who are hostile to our trans or enby selves, where being out may be a one-way ticket to the streets amid a time when we are told to stay indoors.

If to survive these times you find it necessary to de-transition or otherwise sublimate yourself and your feelings, please know that you are no less valid. First and foremost, you need to do what you have to in order to survive. How can we not respect such a choice in days like these?

Now is a time when it is all the more vital that we keep in touch with each other and be patient, caring and understanding with each other. Our community can often be a volatile one, as we often have to fight to assert our identity, even among each other. In these days, however, it’s going to be far more important to reach out and provide a welcoming ear to those in need.

This is the time to work on finding safe places to meet with your community. In-person meetups are going to be challenging at best, so look to your community online when you can, maybe it’s on Facebook or Twitter, or a discord server, or on Animal Crossing. It might be in a virtual world or on a message board. Wherever it is, find it and hold onto it. We’ll need these places: it could be a matter of life or death for some of us in these grim times.

While everyone is running around and hoarding toilet paper, it’s going to be important that you look at some of your basic needs as well. If you are on medication, now is the time to call and see if you can’t get an extra refill or two. It may become even harder in the next few months to have an easy to access supply of hormones and other medications.

Stock up, reach out and do all you can to survive these times. That’s what matters right now.

No one person’s survival is ensured. Even in the height of the Obama years, as we cheered on expanded rights and visibility, we still faced danger and death. In the near future, we’re facing yet more challenges, not the least of them is the severe health risk that every member of the human race is facing grave risks.

The trans community has gone through decades — centuries — of hardship. We have survived some of the worst of times, faced ridicule and death in the best of times, and still, we continue to exist. As I said before, we are badasses.

I want you to remember that and that no matter how scary the world is right now, no matter the hardship, no matter the challenge, we can rise to the occasion. Our community can continue to grow and be strong — as can each of us, individually. 

Gwen Smith refilled her prescriptions last week. Reach out via www.gwensmith.com