I've hesitated to post the thoughts I've had until now because I haven't been able to figure out the most tactful way to say them at a time like this. But it's weighed heavily on me since shortly after I learned about what happened in Orlando. I have seen so many posts from cisgender gay people--predominantly men--whose lives may never be the same, who now must live in constant fear, even in spaces that are supposedly "safe". I do not intend to diminish anyone's suffering, but it is worth mentioning that this fear--the fear of always needing to be on guard, of needing to know how to protect yourself, of having to check on your brothers and sisters to make sure they are still alive, of hearing people hurl words at your community that make you wonder if you're next--is not new to trans people.
The walls you feel compelled to build in light of this recent tragedy have been heavily fortified for trans people, who cannot even be safe in gay clubs where members of our own community now feel safe enough to hurl slurs and show us what they really think of trans and gender-non-confirming people, where we still wonder if being outed means dealing with ignorance in one of its many forms. But our fear, much as theirs does now, has extended to other spaces too. If you now feel scared to hold your partner's hand in public, to wear that tight pink shirt walking home at night, to go out for a drink this weekend, imagine that you have to feel that same or an even greater level of fear when you need to change in the locker room, when you are taken to a hospital, when someone gropes you in the club and finds something "missing", in the bathroom, when walking home and not passing, whenever you meet a new person, etc. Imagine feeling that every time you hear the news that another one of your trans brothers and sisters has been murdered or attacked. The safety you have lost has never been guaranteed to us. We begin to carry around the weight of all of this the moment we realize who we are. We have been screaming this whole time for our LGB brothers and sisters to understand the reality of this fear. We have been met with silence all along too, and we have become angry because of it.
The pain of the past week or so is an amplification of the pain that has been and always will be a part of the trans experience, rather than a new development. I wish the understanding did not come at so high a cost, but I hope that some of you will recognize this, further understanding that the first of us to be targeted in the future will be those who fail to meet society's expectations of gender.
We do not have to act, to hold hands, to be in a gay club, etc. We merely have to step outside our doors. I am not shaming you for the privilege you have had up to this point. In fact, I have envied it. I have longed for that kind of comfort in public spaces all my life. When you want to know why transphobic rhetoric hurts so much, why displays of ignorance provoke anger and panic, you now have your answer. I hope that this tragedy marks a point where we can begin to rebuild our spaces as truly safe and inclusive for all members of our community. You want that back. We've desperately needed it all along.