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It is a frightening time to be transgender or nonbinary in America. It’s a frightening time to love someone who is trans or nonbinary. The leadership of this country has been dividing us, training us to be afraid of one another, and in so doing, they have wasted a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us to grow and evolve. When we act out of fear, we are choosing bullying over beauty, conformity over freedom, fear over love. It breaks my heart. We — and I mean all of us — do not have to allow ourselves to be manipulated in this way. We can choose a different path, other than the dark one we are being driven down.
Every day it seems I hear of, or read about, a new bill being introduced to limit gender-affirming healthcare or ban trans children from sports. I see people from my own county proudly protesting against institutions that support the trans community. It isn’t a situation I can ignore.
This isn’t a far-off place. This isn’t Afghanistan or even Alabama. This is Greene County, Ohio. I am transgender and I live here. I work here. I take my kids school-shopping here, and it hurts me deeply to know that there is a population of my neighbors who would like to see me, and people like me, have our very being legislated away. This is a real threat, and it can be very frightening. It’s that sort of fear that keeps transgender people in the closet. It is that fear that leads to suicide and self-injury. It is that fear that drives away those who are able to leave.
Trans erasure is an absolutely tragic loss for us as a community and a nation. There is a real beauty to being trans. Being out and being able to transition has given me more than my life back. It has given me more than relief from the pain of my self-hatred. Transition gave me real freedom. The freedom to be fearless.
When I say “fearless,” I don’t mean to say that I exist in a permanent state of ease vis-a-vis the world outside of me. What I mean is that I discovered that it is possible to be afraid of something or someone, but to respond to them from a place of calm and confidence.
I had no choice but to find and be myself. Just being broke enough of the false beliefs I held about society, and my place in it, that I felt able to challenge everything. As trans people we have been given a blank check of sorts to explore ourselves and to change in any way that feels true and good to us.
That is freedom. That is the promise of America, full personal sovereignty. With that sovereignty comes the inevitable challenging of social norms, traditions and power structures. That is a powerful freedom to claim, and it is one that every person should have as a birthright. In America, we do have that birthright, but it is kept hidden from us.
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