In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than step B, and, if you did not make a stand at step B, why should you at step C? And so on to step D.They Thought They Were Free, Milton Mayer
Over the last few years, the United States (and many other parts of the world) have seen an escalation in transphobic legislation and rhetoric. Both the frequency and intensity of these attacks have increased, yet at the same time, public and political responses have become more muted. 6 years ago, North Carolina passed HB2, an anti-trans bathroom bill. This rightly attracted vast media attention and prompted businesses to pull out of the state, resulting in the state backing down. Today, states are banning trans people from sports, outlawing the mention of trans people in schools, and trying to forcibly detransition trans kids, yet the public response has been muted. These “successes” seemingly embolden the right to go to greater extremes: from banning HRT for kids under 18 to adults under 25; from banning gender affirming medicine to banning social transition. The window of acceptable political thought is moving rightward at a breakneck pace, but there is no mainstream effort to counteract or reverse this trend. I can see the way things are headed and it scares me.
I have seen this change occurring first-hand in my own state. During the last two election cycles, right-wing candidates have pushed transphobia and anti-trans conspiracy theories incredibly hard and have seen electoral success. This has undone a decade of movement leftward and put far-right politicians in positions of power. So far my state hasn’t seen the kind of anti-LGBT laws that we are seeing in other states, but this is less about the desire for those laws and more a result of the political reality. There is definitely a will, state leaders echo the same bigoted rhetoric as leaders in Florida or Texas and use what executive power they possess to attack the rights of LGBT people. They just never put anything to a vote. With statewide elections coming up this year, there is a high likelihood that political reality might change and we may see anti-trans laws introduced and passed.
Right now, the hardest part is feeling powerless to do anything. It feels like I am just waiting to see if I will keep the rights and protections I currently have or if they will be taken away by the state. At least at an individual level, I don’t see any way for me to meaningfully combat these transphobic laws. Electoralism has proven ineffective and there don’t seem to be any reasonable alternatives. I feel like I just have to wait and see how things turn out.
This doesn’t mean I am doing nothing, I am already taking steps to prepare for a worst-case scenario. I started stockpiling hormones last year by asking for early refills. I currently have about 8 months of estrogen and 2 months of progesterone on hand, which isn’t a bad start. I am also rushing to update my last remaining identity documents: my birth certificate and passport. My birth certificate is from a different state and they make it very difficult to update the name and gender, so this has been a very slow process. Lastly, and most frustratingly, I put off buying a house. I had planned and started looking at buying a house this year, however, given the shifting politics in my state, it didn’t seem wise to make it harder to leave. If the political situation stabilizes or moves leftward I may reconsider, but I figure that given the current trends and situation, I wanted to be able to relocate easily if I felt it necessary.