It's not an emotion that I have a lot of time for. I don't think that angry people get things done, and the potential to stew in it is too great. Like a lot of trans people, I'm used to being told that my anger is part of a process. That the world is doing what it can to catch up, and these kinds of things take time. That's how we excuse things, after all. It's how we excuse television hosts who want to ask whether or not something should exist. Think pieces by people who have no experience, no expertise, but very strong feelings about what is right and proper. There's subtext there, of course. Always subtext, the little hooks that catch on skin. They don't mean should something, but should I. Whether they believe them or not, these opinions are theoretical for you. They're not for me, and for people like me.
This is the problem, the knowing onlooker says. You take these arguments so personally.
Yes, I take these arguments personally. As Stonewall once again release statistics that make chilling reading for the state of the world for young trans people, I'm once again reminded that we only tangentially live in the same world. Tell me how much time we should wait for things to get better. Tell me that this is exactly how it goes. Tell me it's unfortunate, it's really sad, but you don't really feel comfortable with this kind of chat.
I've got another suggestion. Tell me, what are you going to do to make it better, because I promise you: activists have been trying, and I don't know how much else we have left.
You see, if you read those statistics and felt anything other than a sick, helpless kind of anger, then you haven't been paying attention. You haven't been paying attention when people go onto the internet and leave the kinds of comments that might make your hair curl. How many times this year have you been called a child abuser? How many times this year have you been told that you're a deviant, fundamentally destroying the fabric of society? How many times have you been railed against, dismissed, diminished, and disregarded? (If you're wondering, I get this at least once a week, and comparative to many people I know, I'm virtually ignored.)
There's some of you now who won't have read this far, you'll have read the summary and will be ready to call me everything from a snowflake to a deviant. You'll be exercising your freedom of speech, even though that's not what freedom of speech means. You'll be telling me about the binary existence of biology, even though that's not what biology finds. You'll talk about things as facts, without anything to back up the opinion, and start phrases with things like "I'm sorry to have to tell you" as though you're the first person to say it, and mutter darkly about "Political correctness gone mad".
Which means you haven't been paying attention when television hosts and radio shows want to tell us about the exaggeration of statistics. When newspapers talk about the impact on 'normal' children and how important it is that we don't talk about these trivial things that don't impact anybody. Well, almost anybody. Never mind the 64% young trans people who are bullied at school, and exist in a world where grown adults have no problems dismissing their worries. The ones who can't see any way out, and the ones who don't have anyone to talk to. The next time you consider yourself a radical, willing to play 'devil's advocate', think about even one person you might negatively impact. If, in good conscience, you can do it anyway, then God speed. I recommend you starting the sentence "I don't really care about trans people..."
If you get your way, if we leave the children alone, if we give young people nowhere to turn and nobody to talk to, then the findings are going to continue to be bleak. Because when you come for me, and for other activists like me, who are financially able, stable, and have the platform to raise our heads above the parapet and suggest that things need to change only to get chased down, it isn't us that you hurt: it's the children around you. The four out of five young trans people who turn to self-harm as a way to cope. The two in five who attempt to commit suicide.
So yeah, I agree, won't someone think of the children? I tell you what: you first.