December has been a month of seeing a lot of hate online towards Trans and Non-binary people.
Elliot Page came out as Transgender and Non-binary recently. Last week also saw Star Trek Discovery's character Adira ask their senior officer to use they/them pronouns when referring to them. Both of these events brought smiles to many of us in the Non-binary and Trans communities. Representation in media is important and we were proud to see Elliot's courage with a mid career gender announcement as well as Star Trek's continued public service in supporting diversity and inclusion.
Sadly the week also saw an endless stream of hate filled blowback from both. Facebook, Twitter and the internet lit up with claims that "We've lost another lesbian", "the trans agenda strikes again" and accusations of a global Transgender and Non-binary agenda working in the shadows to subvert humanity and "lead the children to certain destruction" at the hands of these dangerous people.
To be honest the announcement from Elliot Page was not remotely surprising for anyone paying attention to the actor's long presence in the LGBT+ community. It felt far more like an "ok, welcome we have been waiting for you" moment than anything very shocking. While the Star Trek scene simply reminded us of the first mixed race TV kiss pioneered by the show's original series. It was Star Trek doing what it has always done, raising and embracing diversity.
None of this stopped the outrage. Youtube lit up with hateful Transphobic and TERF (Trans Exclusive Radical Feminist) rants about the grand destruction of women, lesbians and the youth of our world by trans operatives working as part of our global conspiracy.
Right wing pundits and pseudoscience sellers like the extremely biased Dr. Deborah Soh and hate video rag noise makers, The Daily Wire, Lauren Chen and neo-con icon Ben Shapiro all came out in force to condemn Elliot and continue their persistent efforts at Trans and Non-binary erasure. Echo chambers of hate and right winger rabidity fighting desperately to perpetuate their very white, very sexist, very narrow world view lit up with things so terrible I won't repeat them here. Suffice to say the hate is real, the hate is widespread and it is sadly not going away any time soon.
But there is hope here too.
Many of our detractors believe that the numbers of Trans and Non-binary people coming out is a trend or some kind of operation by Trans people to convert everyone. This is obviously silly. No one who is Trans or Non-binary would ever wish our experience upon anyone else. And we would certainly not encourage it in people who are not like us.
So why then are we seeing more people coming out?
The answer is one that only takes a little careful thought. Here is my perspective.
We are now seeing the positive impact of decades of LGBT+ activism pay off. Laws are improving, protections are improving and conditions in society are improving. I believe a lot of this is attributable to all the hard work our LGBT community members have put in for years to make this happen. In short, feels a lot more safe to come out than at any time before in my life.
We are represented. More and more representation has helped us see we are not alone, not some kind of anomaly. We are part of a vast community and this is helping us to see ourselves in others. That provides courage that also helps us be less afraid and more supported in coming out.
Many older people in our community are tired of waiting. We spend decades in the shadows and now we are done with it. We want to live authentically and openly. Emboldened by the examples of many of the younger community, we are taking our steps out of the shadows.
The young Trans and Non-binary community refuse to be held back. I am so proud of them for being so very open. The first generation to really tear down the big gates of society and to be widely visible. While many Trans people pioneered these world streets at great risk and sacrifice, the young community members has flooded in behind in their footsteps in numbers and with confidence that is undeniable.
Sadly none of this erases the hate that still exists and that we have seen so clearly in the last two weeks.
I sat in front of my computer this week in tears. So much hate to posts I'd made supporting Elliot and Discovery. Completely unrelated Facebook groups were lit up with arguments and hateful lines. Then yesterday I found Monty Python's John Cleese's highly transphobic tweets. Until that moment I had loved this man's comedic work since I was a kid. Here he was telling me I don't exist in the same manner the haters tell us "I identify as an attack helicopter," Cleese tweeted "Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police woman Is that allowed, or am I being unrealistic ?"
It was like a knife in my chest to read this from a man I so deeply loved in all his work.
That inspired this post. I had to figure out how do I survive this hate? How do we endure it and thrive despite it?
I believe it is, at least in part, this list.
Our validity has to first come from within and not from without. We must be confident in who we are and defiantly so. I am Kelly Rain, I am Non-binary, I have always been this way, I will no longer live in shadows and pretense. I am here, I am valid and I will take my place in this world openly and with courage.
Remember that hate is most often a manifestation of fear. We can repair fear by spreading information, truth and showing our shining examples. We make ourselves visible bravely and we teach the world to understand us. One by one if necessary.
We cannot place too much care on what others think and say. As RuPaul so wisely said "If they ain't paying your bills, pay them no mind."
Know you are not alone. Connect to others out there and find friends you can communicate with. Especially if you are isolated. There are great communities online and with a little investigation you can find safe ones where moderators work to keep the community safe and civil. Connect and find community.
You do you. Be who you are. Pursue your dreams, educate yourself, empower yourself. No one can take away the person you build yourself into being. Be powerful inside and in realizing your dreams and ambitions. In that you will find power and that will drive you forward despite any road blocks that appear ahead of you.
So I went back to my life today. I started working on some new music for my next Ambient music performance. I started writing. I shut off social media for a while. I took hold of my anxiety from all that hate and I channeled it into creativity.
Nothing I did this week will end the hate. I can own this space I have to write and create. I can own my existence. I can choose how I respond to the world around me. I can stand up for myself and others. I can be the authentic me.
And so can you. So can we all.
None of this ended hate, but it did help me feel like I can take it when I have to. Take it and then thrive despite it. Because when we thrive, when we live true to ourselves and become happy and fulfilled people, no one can take that away. No matter what they do, who we are endures. We are a light that cannot be darkened. Not now, not ever.