Like everyone with a vested interest in the state of their society, I too have followed the election. While doing so, I’ve made a point to avoid highly partisan news sources for fear of missing out on the facts. Despite actively engaging in this unprecedented presidential race, my “radical politics” have not taken a back seat.
Still, I am in no way interested in half-baked political revolution.
Our country is in need of very serious changes: police have to stop killing Black people at disproportionate rates, money needs to be removed from politics, Hillary Clinton needs a new personality, the privatized healthcare industry needs to be abolished, and politicians need to be held accountable for saying racist things. Personally, I crave change. I would like nothing more than to see things go in another direction, particularly one that leads to actual equality and a serious evaluation of the climate crisis. The only thing stopping me from voting for Jill Stein and sending Bernie Sanders edible arrangements with the message “You tried” is the fact that I, unlike so many scorned far-leftists, am more interested in simply surviving.
In Maslow’s hierarchy, trans people of color are at the lowest tier. We are not worried about normal things. We are not concerned with the moral implications of email exchanges or unrealistic academically informed desires to overthrow the government and destroy private property. Unlike our cis counterparts: our burden has been overwhelming since birth.
I was born into poverty but eventually was rescued by a military father with a steady paycheck and access to good schools. I was born into blackness and trans identity. I was also born into a world where unlike gay men and women who were slowly accumulating rights and widespread empathy, people didn’t talk about us because we were essentially nothing more than imaginary, hermaphrodite, skin-walking monsters. Now we’ve reached the tipping-point, when Laverne Cox is considered objectively hot and Caitlyn Jenner is considered nothing more than an evil neo-con white woman.
It all seems sort of ideal. Until you consider that even amidst conversation, many of us are dying, and as an entire group we are being scapegoated by a major American party.
“Bathroom bills” may very well be dumb-dumb legislation but the effects of their very existence is much more than some blockhead idea to mobilize scared suburban moms into politically active conservative cogs. Since North Carolina and other states have passed bathroom bills Trans suicide hotlines have seen calls double. Sure, share light-hearted well-meaning memes of bathrooms with signs like “anyone who needs to pee” but understand this: during these times there are lives at stake, and to many they are lives that don’t matter.
We are excluded from everything, even movements we help inspire: Black Lives Matter is a movement built on intersectionality and as the collective consciousness of Black America awakens, the tradition of force-fed Christianity has some movement late-comers saying ignorant and incredibly transphobic and homophobic things. It is not uncommon for the run-of-the-mill Hotep to espouse things like this:
We are even excluded from movements that claim to prioritize us. When Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton, the collective left lost it’s mind, evoking images more similar to the Tea Party than anyone ever thought possible. #BernieOrBust was a real hashtag campaign, indicating that it would be Sanders for the DNC ticket or America would reap the consequences of a Trump presidency. It should not surprise you that most of Bernie’s supporters were young white men, people who already have a hard time contextualizing the places other people hold in the world. More shocking however, is that even POC supporters—as evidenced by Black Twitter's short-sighted take down of the endorsement—of Sanders failed to see what’s at stake for people like me.
As anyone who follows my writing knows, I am a proud trans woman of color. That means I don’t have the minimum social capital required to engage in speculative politics that are as volatile and unpredictable as any old Wall Street traded security. The rest of the world is on the trading room floor, betting on what sort of revolutionary outcome will occur should they invest themselves in a particular movement. While us, the trans folks, are out on the street begging to be noticed and for a place at the table and for our needs to be considered. Right now, surgeries for sexual re-assignment are still the legal criteria to change one’s legal gender in 28 states, 4 states will not change it all--surprisingly, one state that allows you to change your gender without expensive surgery is Mississippi, of all places. Surgeries are expensive, and tying them to identification isn’t just a matter of making someone uncomfortable when they buy cheap wine to cope. In a world where a trans person is murdered every 29 hours simply for existing, this is a very egregious policy that is either short-sighted or aimed at encouraging our eradication.
We want more than to be heard, we want the right to live without fear.
When the conservative state itself has branded you an enemy of democracy, is it really so hard to believe that you may be too afraid to take a bet on ill-conceived revolution rooted in nothing more than cheap, Coachella-incubated “hope”? We don’t have the luxury of waiting four years for Trump’s presidency to end and for the new era of American liberalism to begin.
I am voting for Hillary’s robotic ass because I want the chance to see 30.
What non-trans people seem to forget is that backlash is very real. The number of trans women murdered in the US this year is already at 29 and that’s higher than last year's 21 which was already considered “historic”. While human dumpster-fires stir the racist electorate and the GOP scapegoats all of us evil trannies for a sluggish economic recovery, people are taking their “colorful rhetoric” as a license to mock, misgender, rape, kill us even as we lay crying in the streets for someone to notice our collective pain. I have had people tell me that our numbers are "too small to matter" and that America has bigger issues at stake. Apparently, life is only precious so long as revolution isn't hindered by considering its value.
So no, I don’t really give a fuck about your “revolution” because I am not included.
Stop trying to convince me to vote for fucking Jill Stein, because even you don’t know the odds of that succeeding. What I do know is that while trans women of color represent 10% of all hate crime victims, we make up 45% of hate-crime fatalities. I also know that we are 4 times more likely to live in extreme poverty and turn to sex work. We are also the most at-risk population for HIV/AIDS.
I am not interested in joining the far-left's rag-tag crew of revolutionary majorettes. I want the assurance that something is going to happen for us. I want the assurance that we will not have to endure a Trump/Pence presidency. I want the assurance that we will not have to wage war with a conservative SCOTUS for another lifetime.
We want to be included in the conversation and taken seriously, and right now even our allies don’t want to hear from us. Remember this: if your idealism isn’t accessible to the poor, disabled people, trans people, and people of color in all their incarnations then it is not revolutionary.
Zaida J. is currently a Features Editor here at WUSSY and a self-described transgender loud mouth.