Prove it

Even TIME is promoting the big lie.

Saying You Support Trans Rights Isn’t Enough. Here’s How to Prove It

Enough for what? Enough for whom? Why do I have to “prove it”?

The author is someone named Emme Lund. I have no idea if “Emme” is a name for female people or male people or “non-binary” people. Lund doesn’t bother to tell us before telling a story about a childhood friend.

Growing up, my best friend wore extensions in his hair, blue braids swinging down to his hips. He wore short leather skirts and platform boots. He bought me a fishnet top when I was 14 (a long-sleeved shirt I hid for years from my religious family). We used to walk home from the mall together and recite entire TOOL albums. He taught me it was O.K. to disrupt gender norms.

Then, a few years ago, we got in an argument on Facebook. I explained to him the harmful concept of gender essentialism, the belief that gender is determined at birth and cannot be changed, and he told me he believed that a trans woman would always be a man in his eyes. I wasn’t out then, but anger boiled inside me. I deleted his comments and blocked him.

As one does. “Omigod my childhood friend sees men as men. The anger, it boils!”

When you are trans, you never know who to trust. Our gender identity can be hidden for years, even from ourselves but especially from others.

That “even from ourselves” is telling. If it’s hidden even from you yourself, maybe it was never there in the first place. Maybe it’s the “finding” it that’s delusional, not the failure to see it. Maybe there is no “it”, and you just are what you are, like all of us.

I’m not sharing anything new, but it’s important that everyone understand why it is so hard for trans people to trust even the most well-meaning cisgender allies.

Maybe that’s not what’s important. Maybe what it’s important for everyone to understand is that people’s sex is what it is, and that what varies is the set of cultural beliefs about how women and men dress and talk and walk and behave.

After I came out to my wider family and friends, I received a lot of supportive messages, but people also asked why I had not come out sooner, offended by the idea that I could not trust them with a secret so big. I make it a point not to hang out with bigots, but I still wasn’t sure who would be able to love and support me and fully embrace my identity.

You know, that isn’t something that is just due you (or anyone) no matter what. We’re allowed to have reasons for being friends with people, and to stop being friends with X if X changes radically in some way that matters to us. If a friend “comes out as” a frothing reactionary rage-monger who sees masks as yellow stars and Fauci as unspeakably evil, then that’s going to change things. Some reasons are better than others, but nobody owes anybody permanent loyalty no matter what. Nobody has to “fully embrace” anyone’s identity.

We are in the midst of a giant backlash with politicians looking to strip away the rights of trans people.

No we’re not. Nobody wants to take away trans people’s rights. There is no “right” for men to join women in the women’s toilets or the rugby team.

It may seem like I’m asking a lot. I am. But I need my cisgender friends and family to take on this fight as well. Don’t ask the trans people in your life if they trust you. Assume they don’t. Instead show us that you can be trusted, that you will fight alongside us, and that you believe that trans people deserve to be loved and respected. You care about trans lives? Good, go prove it.

Trusted to what? Agree that you’re a woman when you’re not? Fight alongside you to what? Force other people to agree that you’re a woman when you’re not?

No. Sorry, but no.

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