On the morning that started writing this, I watched a legislative hearing from Ohio concerning yet another attempt to take away affirming health care from transgender youth.
I also read up on a bill pending in Virginia that would keep transgender students off their school playing fields, which including calls for “physical inspections” to keep kids and sports cis.
Oh, and that way yet another bill in Texas would ban “drag performances” under a distinct legal definition:
Take a deep dive through this proposal, and you find that this could mean that a trans person performing karaoke in an Austin or Dallas bar could run afoul of this. Right now, this bill has one supporter for certain, but the fact that this idea is even in the discussion is frightening.
At the same time, Boston Children Hospital was receiving the “all clear” after another bomb threat. After a similar incident in September, Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson took to the airwaves to say the threat was “the hospital playing the victim here”. Is it any wonder why some feel emboldened to make such threats?
Transgender Day of Remembrance is the day when transgender people, and those who support them, mourn the loss of those in our community taken violently. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 32 transgender people in the U.S. were killed due to anti-trans violence this year.
This litany leave me a state of cold fear every time we do it. I’m afraid of being number 33, or 34, or any number in this macabre roll call. Yet, I also look at violence that isn’t directly physical but no less harmful.
I think of the violence of the willful dehumanization that Lia Thomas went through. The University of Pennsylvania swimmer chased a championship dream while being misgendered, body-shamed, defamed, and held up as a threat by people seeking votes.
She was left to face it mostly alone. Her school and conference only spoke up after so many supporters, from Penn law school students, to advocates and athletes, shamed them to it.
Covering the ugliness people brought Lia Thomas left me smoldering in rage. I own every ember of it.
It’s the same rage I feel at governing bodies who saw the pickets of ranting transphobes and then turn to an Emily Bridges and tell her that she can’t compete even when she met every criterion by the regulations.
Boxing pioneer Patricio Manuel had a word for governing bodies who engage fear over fairness. “I was a part of a group that went to meet with the International Olympic Committee,” he recalled. “One of the things I said that you are being cowards if you aren’t stepping up and supporting trans athletes.”
It’s a rage I feel watching self-proclaimed feminists find detente with groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom strictly due to anti-trans bias.
It’s my rage at seeing a person seen as a hero in the cause of gay rights sell her legacy out for transphobia. “I’m not accusing transgender women of cheating,” Martina Navratilova said her remarks to last summer’s ICONS conference in Las Vegas, “But what about the men who want to cheat?”
While watching the proceedings in Ohio, I noted that one of the people testifying in opposition was Amy Schneider. Yeah, that Amy Schneider who owned Jeopardy for 40 straight wins and a million dollars.
She’s a native Ohioan who heard about HB454 from a friend back home and caught a redeye to Columbus to speak out.
“I truly believe that all of here have the same goal to keep Ohio’s children safe and healthy” she stated eloquently. “But if you do share that goal, passing this bill would be a tragic mistake.”
As she made her points, I also thought about the vitriol she went through for winning on a game show.
It was similar for Jamie Hunter after winning a major championship in snooker. Ditto for pro disc golfer Natalie Ryan, who saw the nonsense grow because she won 2 tournaments in a season.
Fellow competitor Kristin Tattar, a cisgender woman, won 11 tour events, the tour season championship and the disc golf world championship. However, Ryan’s future is in the balance because the PDGA is considering a ban on trans women in women’s divisions for 2023.
I felt their pain of being ridiculed, shamed, and called “men” personally.
I did a news segment with News Nation in March just days after Lia Thomas’ efforts at the NCAA swim championships. When the segment was posted on YouTube, the comment section was another example of why trans people avoid the comments section.
It is rather hurtful to called “a man with cheap lip gloss and a dodgy wig” or, even more pointedly, a “big black man acting like a woman.”
Transphobia and misogynoir. I got the daily double.
The hardest violence to me however is the violence of silence. The indifference of those who claim support and “allyship,” yet aren’t willing to speak and act.
I look at Penn’s swimming head coach here. He was interviewed this week by the Philadelphia Inquirer about his now-in-law-school 2022 national champion.
“I’m not talking about Lia,” Mike Schnur said. “I’m just not going to do that.”
True to form.
That seems to be the tenor for many. The same people so vocal about the FIFA World Cup being in a country where being LGBTQ could cost your freedom and maybe your life, are silent about a determined effort to bring similar policies to bear on trans people here at home.
That silence is partly why a cisgender high school girl in Utah was investigated for “not being feminine enough” after winning a sporting event. That silence fueled an unfounded accusation against a transgender student in Vermont who allegedly started an altercation in a locker room that was later proven false.
That silence powers the feeding frenzy of certain outlets after a story surfaced in a small-town high school volleyball game in Highlands, North Carolina last month.
A highly skilled player for Highlands High School executed a hard spike. An opposing player was injured when they tried to dig the kill attempt. The headlines screamed that the player who spiked the ball is a transgender girl without any official confirmation by the school or the state’s governing body for high school sports. It was first mentioned in an emergency meeting of the county board of education on the matter, again without confirmation.
A local reporter for a small local news blog, the Southern Scoop, noted the lack of proof. They also found that the student in question has identified as a girl since they entered the school system in kindergarten.
Despite the pressure of the anti-trans narrative, the journalist stood on principle.
“There are people who we asking ‘why aren’t you telling the real story’,” Southern Scoop founder/editor Brittany Lofthouse said in an interview on the Trans Sporter Room. “I can’t say it happened because the player was transgender, because there’s nothing that says that other than a rumor.”
Lofthouse also noted that none of the outlets who reported rumor as fact haven’t bothered to run a photo of the team or disclose how they came across what they’ve reported.
Again true to form, along with official silence and indifference.
On Trans Day of Visibility in 2021, I wrote about similar themes centered around the idea that dehumanization was at the root of the transphobia creeping into sport and into everyday life.
It frightens me to think that 18 months later the dehumanization has gotten worse. It has definitely made our community weary.
When I asked MMA fighter Alana McLaughlin recently how tiresome the growing transphobia is, she tersely replied.
“I’m past tired, but anger is more useful than despair.”
I feel a mix of both. I’m angry because it seems my people are hated even more. I’m in despair by how it seems the majority who are not trans care even less.