If it’s not too cliché to say, the past few weeks have left me reeling. It’s as though I’ve been swimming in a bog, unable to crawl out of the political morass and onto firm ground. Every time my head surfaced, I was dragged back down again by the ensnaring grasp of some terrible swamp creature.
I think I’ve finally clawed my way back out of the quagmire, and while my footing is still shaky, my spirit is stronger than ever. I’m ready for the long haul.
Since the election news broke, I’ve heard a number of trans folx discuss their intents to detransition. I’ve had two queer friends decide to go back in the closet. I had a colleague come out to me for the first time, only to tell me that the political vitriol we’re witnessing is the reason she never plans to come out publicly. A friend of a friend died by suicide.
“In times as turbulent as these, you need to do whatever you can to keep your precious selves safe.”
I sincerely hope that none of the people listed above will be given an ounce of grief for their decisions. And, dear reader, if you decide to stay in the closet, go back in the closet, go stealth, detransition, or end your existence on this plane I could never harbor any ill will toward you. In times as turbulent as these, you need to do whatever you can to keep your precious selves safe. (Note: I’m not advocating suicide, but I understand it as a tactic of preserving one’s spirit or soul from further torment. For some, it’s a method of harm-reduction on a cosmic scale. If you are struggling with suicidal ideation please call the Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255, or text “Go” to the Crisis Text Line: 741741.)
For others, closets are no longer an option, or they aren’t the route we’d take even if we could. Some of us are safer out of the closet than in.
Some of us have the option of going stealth. Some wish we could, but lack the ability.
Some of us can’t detransition, some won’t, and some feel like we don’t have enough miles on the clock to trade in just yet.
Personally, I have no intention of detransitioning, going stealth, or heading back into the closet, and I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I’m on the f*cking grid, and no amount of scrubbing my social media is going to make my trans status any less public. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, more than ever, the younglings coming behind us need examples of what it means to be a gender transgressor, a visible trans person, or an out queer.
“I was trans before Trump was elected, I’ll be trans during the fiasco of the next four years, and I’ll sure as hell be trans after.”
I was trans before Trump was elected, I’ll be trans during the fiasco of the next four years, and I’ll sure as hell be trans after.
And that, friends, is the key thing to remember. There will be life after Trump: we just have to make sure as many of us as possible are around to see that glorious day.
It’s daunting to know that we have a fight ahead of us. We’ll need the full support of our communities and our chosen families to make it through the coming months. It will take humor and self-care. It will take bravery, creativity, and an abundance of love.
We don’t know exactly what’s coming, but one way or another, the Gendertrash Café will be around for whatever lies ahead. Feel free to join us.
In love and solidarity,
Jackson Wright Shultz is an educator, activist, and the author of Trans/Portraits: Voices from Transgender Communities. He can usually be found teaching writing to college students, working on nerdy research projects, or playing with his obnoxiously-large Newfoundland dog. You can read more of his writing on the higher ed blog, Conditionally Accepted.