The Taliban Christian Right have decided transfolks are the perfect scapegoats. There are some frightening parallels between their behavior and the behavior of the Nazi when they first came to power. If you are out and or obvious you might want to consider relocating to some place safer than certain states. It isn’t cowardly to put personal safety first.
The following was published a year ago. It is truer today than ever.
The “transgender tipping point” was a welcome milestone—it’s also made trans adults and youth more visible targets
Wednesday, Mar 30, 2016
I was happy to hear about the International Trans Day of Visibility two years ago. I agreed with the sentiment that the Transgender Day of Remembrance in November being the only trans holiday was morbid and depressing and that celebrating happy, healthy trans lives was a positive goal. I was happy to be one of many allies pushing awareness of March 31 as a “day of visibility” last year.
Which is why I was surprised when one of my close friends, who is trans and who hadn’t heard of the holiday, responded with a scowl when I told her about it.
“My goal isn’t visibility, my goal is survival,” she said. “The Jews were extremely visible in 1930s Europe, how much good did it do them?”
Since then I’ve been thinking about the relative shallowness of “visibility” as a goal in and of itself, especially since the past two years have been one long performative celebration of trans visibility.
Caitlyn Jenner became a magazine cover girl in the name of “visibility” and has continued to do highly visible things like entering a golf tournament, blogging about her love life, starring in a reality show and speaking out in defense of Ted Cruz. We’ve had a streaming show about trans issues win a Golden Globe, we’ve had a feature film about trans issues nominated for Oscars (winning one for Best Supporting Actress). Ever since Time ran its famous May 2014 cover of Laverne Cox with the optimistic title “The Transgender Tipping Point,” everything’s been looking up for trans people, right?
The progression from visibility to tolerance to acceptance within the LGBT coalition has infamously been uneven between the LGB side and the T side. If one were to try to make a parallel (an extremely imperfect one) with Time’s “Transgender Tipping Point” with Laverne Cox and an earlier moment in queer history, it’d probably be something like Ellen DeGeneres and her character both coming out on Ellen in 1997 (a moment pivotal enough that there’s a website named for it).
Did the dramatic moment of a well known entertainer proudly coming out as gay on TV, with widespread support from the media and the industry, end the oppressive invisibility of gay people? Did it, as Dan Savage put it, get better?
Sure, absolutely, in the long run. But then I tend to agree with Martin Luther King that given a long enough run, yes, things get better–but what happens while we’re waiting for that long run is a much more complicated story.
Ellen coming out on TV came after a run of 1990s media garnering attention and box office dollars out of promoting “visibility” of the gay community to Middle America–whether it be dark, tragic takes on the AIDS crisis or cutesy introductions to the culture of drag and camp. There was a vanguard among the (still mostly straight) cultural elite convinced the “gay tipping point” was coming, after the bloody battles fought by ACT UP in the previous generation and at Stonewall in the generation before that.