There will be a thousand articles written about Trump’s plan to make it government policy that transgender people don’t exist. Some will explain what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how. Some will attack conservatives and Trump, some will attack those who enabled and empowered them through inaction or lack of concern for anyone but themselves. I can’t write those articles.
I already wrote them. I’ve already called the GOP a hate group, I’ve already called out hypocritical allies, I’ve gone after people condoning casual transphobia, warned of radical evangelicals changing the government, and I’ve laid into “progressives” who will throw us under the bus. Almost to the day, I warned about the “unpersoning” of trans people by the Trump administration a full year ago. To borrow a phrase from black folks, “We done told y’all.”
But here we are. The End. It’s not about bathrooms or celebrities, it’s not about pronouns or dating or anything of the sort, it’s just the end of us. Trump’s government is going to make it state policy that we simply do not exist. Literally every right and protection we had won before is gone. No, this is not hyperbole, we are not overreacting, this is their stated goal and not even in vague terms. We are not trying to distract you from something else, we are not trying to divide the left, we are just trying to survive. You have to understand, this isn’t just going to force us into the wrong bathrooms; people will be able to deny us medical care, access to homeless shelters, the right to work and put food in our mouths.
I’m at the point now where I can’t yell in anger about this. I can’t freak out. I’m just tired. All of us transgender people are tired. We have fought and fought and fought, and with a few memos and policy changes the rights we were given by the Obama administration are gone. Poof. Pencil-whipped out of existence. Yeah, we’re gonna keep fighting because we have been fighting, we’ve been fighting this whole time literally and nothing has changed in this regard because there wasn’t even a cease-fire called; so please don’t tell us to fight back. What the hell do you think we’ve been doing for our whole lives?
At this point we’re trying to hold our lines because we’re about to get overrun. I could write up one of those “Go Vote, Call Your Congressman” type articles, but I can barely even muster the will to write this sentence, much less punch out a thousand words on the importance of voting and civic engagement. You should already know how important it is already and if you don’t I can’t even wrap my head around that anymore. There is no point in slippery slope warnings or comparisons to monsterous times or places in our past, we see it in so many other things.
I’m at the point now where all I can muster is: “Help us.”
For the love of God and all that is holy, it’s time to help us. We’ve said everything that we can say, made a million appeals, and sounded the alarms so many times there’s no other way we can say it. We’ve been polite, we’ve cajoled, we’ve yelled, raged, attacked, we’ve done everything we can to get your attention to help us. I think the only thing we’ve not done is a sock puppet play and explained it to you like a room full of pre-schoolers. There’s nothing left for us to do to get it through your heads that we need your help we haven’t done before. It’s simply time for you to show up and help.
That’s it, nothing else. No more speeches, no more lectures, no more explainers or think pieces. If there was ever a time you were going to stop and help us, this is the time. An ally shows up when they’re needed and we need you now. If there is a single moral fiber in your being, this is the time to act on it. We aren’t an abstract issue on the other side of the world and we aren’t some event in the far future; we’re the people around you. We’re not just adults, we’re children and teens who are already bullied and discriminated to death now, much less what it will be like after this. It’s time to simply do the moral and righteous thing.
I can throw a million and one banal clichés at you about doing the right thing. I can go to some quote website and conjure up some inspirational quote from MLK, Jesus, FDR, Kennedy, Lincoln, the Buddha, or Beyoncé to try to appeal to your moral senses but you’ve heard them all before. You know that if you fail to act and people suffer, then it's on you and for you to deal with. There are times when issues are morally complex, when they require a lot of soul searching and deep reflecting before you take action. This is not one of those times.
Helping us defend our basic rights no matter how much you can or how hard you can is the only right thing to do. You can only do as much as you possibly can, only you can judge what that is, but you have to help somehow; donate, campaign, talk down your transphobic co-worker. We as human beings are taught that when people are threatened or suffering, it is good and right to help them. If you choose not to or chose to act in your own interests over those who are suffering is up to you. The only consequence to yourself is if you can continue to rightfully see yourself as a moral and good person. However, the consequences for others go beyond a good night’s sleep.
The choice is to help us or not, with all the reasons to or not already well presented to you and out there to find. What you choose is up to you. Just remember your choice will always be with you. You know what you have to do.
AMANDA KERRI is a writer and comedian based in Oklahoma City, and a regular contributor to The Advocate. Follow her on Twitter @Amanda_Kerri.