And yet. Like trans folks living in all but one state (New York, for the curious), the state I live in is not exempt from anti-trans legislation being introduced.
We are not exempt from politicians trying to hide behind “religious beliefs” as a way to give adults license to harm children. While the legislation introduced here this year has stalled in committee, and no one really believes the bills will pass, it still hurts to know that there’s politicians in my state who would vilify me and people like me to make a political point.
Parents here have approached school boards about banning LGBTQ books, the same kind of books that saved my life when I was in middle and high school.
But most cisgender and heterosexual people in my state don’t think any of that happens here… that anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ legislation and book bans and school board fights only happen in the “hard states.”
Here, transphobia is much more insidious, especially in the church. It’s an extra interview about my gender while applying for church jobs. It’s being assured that this diocese is fully ready to support trans clergy…but that many churches aren’t ready yet (or might never be) and that’s just the way it is. It’s diocesan leadership forgetting every year at clergy conference and convention that there needs to be a safe bathroom option for me and other trans and non-binary folks who might attend. It’s preaching a sermon on trans or broader LBGTQ issues and being accused of “only preaching about gay stuff” when it’s one or two sermons a year, sermons that also name the oppression of racism, classism, and ableism.
I know that compared to my colleagues and friends and trans and non-binary siblings in the hard states that I have it easy. But playing the oppression olympics produces no winners, only losers. It takes the attention off the fact that so many people are hurting, and distracts us, causing us to fight among ourselves rather than fighting the system that put us here. I am grateful that I’m living in one of the “better” states, that I don’t fear for my life every day if I don’t pass well enough, if I confuse too many people, or choose the wrong bathroom. But the constant misgendering, the micro (and macro) aggressions, and really just reading the news, is still painful. My heart still breaks and my soul is getting ragged around the edges. It’s supposed to be safe here, but it’s only somewhat safer–none of us are free until all of us are free. And there’s a whole lot of work needed to get there.