Around 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the 6th of January, 2021, a mob of pro-Trump forces, QAnon believers, Proud Boys and others, whipped up into a frenzy because of weeks of propaganda and a speech by outgoing President Trump and members of his staff and family, assaulted the United States Capitol Building.
When all was done, five people were dead and several others were injured. The mob had overtaken police and had nearly free rein of the building while staff cowered behind barricaded doors. All indications are that the whole scene could have been so very much worse.
Hours before the siege, Donald Trump Jr. took to the stage at the “Stop The Steal” rally — the same place his father riled up the crowd who marched to the Capitol. Early in his speech, after thanking the crowd for “standing up to the bullshit” and “being in the fight with us,” Trump Jr. sarcastically said “Amen and A-Woman,” mocking the similar phrase used by Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) during the first Daily Prayer of the 117th Congress two days prior.
Just for point of order, I want to note that “Amen” is not a gendered word per se, but a Hebrew word that translates to English as “so be it.”
Trump Jr. then segued into a transphobic rant, citing a recent study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine that states that transgender women have an athletic advantage over non-transgender ones even after a year on appropriate hormone therapy. The advantages begin to fade after that point, and there appears to be no advantage after two years.
“That shows you the mentality of where the Democratic Party is,” said Trump Jr. “They spent money on a study that came to the incredible conclusion yesterday that trans women playing female sports have a competitive advantage.”
“No shit,” he screamed. “Who could have seen that coming?”
Trans rights have been under constant attack during the Trump administration, so Trump Jr.’s words come as little surprise. It was his father who initially tweeted a ban of transgender military members in July of 2017, and it was his father’s administration that has sough to roll back trans and LGBTQ rights across the board. Fights against trans rights have been raging across the country, too, from the Loss of HERO in Houston and the doomed House Bill 2 in North Carolina to dozens of anti-transgender bills sitting in state houses right now.
It’s not to say that trans rights are the only minority group under attack during this Administration, or even the one treated the worst. We live in a time where women and minorities, sex workers and immigrants, have been stripped of rights or faced rollbacks of Federal protections. Things have gone so far as to end up with young children being stripped of their parents and being forced to life in cramped, unpleasant conditions in chain-link cages in the Arizona desert.
Nevertheless, we have served as a useful lightning rod for for the conservative right, stinging from defeat over same-gender marriage just years ago. We have become an easy target from the right, whether it is attacks on “Drag Queen Storytimes” or the aforementioned anger over transgender people in sports.
Let’s also not forget this: scores of transgender people were murdered in the United States in 2020, capping off four years of increases in hate crimes and murders of transgender people. This is one of the many things to come out of this background of animus against us.
Around 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the 6th of January, 2021, a mob whipped up by speeches against all of the usual enemies of the right wing, including transgender people, assaulted the United States Capitol Building. Inside, congresspeople, their aides, and others scrambled for safety as Capitol Police attempted to protect them.
Among those aides was at least one transgender person, who I will not name for her own privacy. She was in the Capitol as rioters entered. One called her a “faggot cunt.” She was punched twice in the tumult, leaving her bruised and hurt. Thankfully, that is largely the extent of her injuries.
Those who sought to overtake the Capitol like to act like they, alone, are American, that they are standing up to all these outside forces that are perverting the American way of life, and they are here to protect it.
Yet every trans woman who calls this country home is just as much an American, as are so many others who are disenfranchised by the outgoing administration. We have made this country ours as much as anyone — and deserve the same rights. That this is somehow inconvenient for the followers of a failed president is not my responsibility.
In the wake of this assault, many on the right have made disingenuous calls to seek healing and unity, putting the onus on the left once again, expecting us to set aside real hurt to reach out to people who would like to see people like me — and many others — dead. There’s been no expectation that they need to temper their attitudes and actions from those expecting me to reach across some imagined aisle.
Around 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the 6th of January, 2021, things changed. This genie, let to wreak havoc at the behest of President Trump, is not so easily going back into the bottle. More may be hurt, and serious tumult may yet be our lot.
Gwen Smith had planned a much more hopeful column for this week. You can find her at www.gwensmith.com