Queer Bodies: Over-Politicized and Dehumanized
Donnie TC Denome | April 14, 2017, noon
I think it’s safe to say that I am a political football right now. Key parts of my identity get tossed around by lawmakers all across this country.
When I turn on the news or scroll through different media apps, I am inundated with stories about how people who will never have my identities and experiences want to restrict those identities.
Take, for example, nearly every single 'bathroom bill' discussed in legislatures all over our nation. In an effort to “protect women and children” or whatever nonsense excuse they’re using this week, cisgender politicians want to legislate away trans people’s right to safely use the bathroom.
And, by extension, our right to exist in public. If I don’t have a safe place to do my business in a building, I’m not going in that building.
I am not the main target of this bill because I’m not the image of a trans person these lawmakers have in their heads when they spill harmful transphobic rhetoric all over their papers.
I’m a tiny, white nonbinary trans man. I am not what lawmakers mean when they say “men in women’s restrooms.”
And yet these bills put men in women’s restrooms because that’s what you get when you misgender trans people. That’s what you get with whatever HB2-lite law North Carolina is on now.
My very existence is political. My body is a battleground for lawmakers to take their frustrations and fears out on.
I can’t just turn off the news like my mother tells me to when the latest assault on the rights of my communities are trampled. For every issue covered by the media for five days to two weeks, a community lives in fear for much longer.
It’s baffling to me how those in power react when marginalized communities fight against our oppression in a political way. What, were you expecting us to be silent while you turned us into talking points on the House floor instead of humans?
If my body, my identity, and my human rights are going to be turned into a political object for lawmakers to argue over and TV talking heads to “show both sides of the story," I will be political. I will vote, protest, write, call, and damned well run for office if I have to.
I am not going to stand idly by while some of my core identity is debated in Congress for constituent votes and media coverage. (I am a constituent and I am a member of the media. Hear me roar.)
I have so often heard the excuse from lawmakers and supporters of these anti-queer, anti-trans bills that it’s not about hating people like me.
"I don’t hate queer people. I just don’t support marriage equality."
"I don’t hate trans people. I just want to keep women and children safe in bathrooms."
Ah, such lovely “love the sinner, hate the sin” rhetoric. If you’re complaining about me because my room is the messy room from Hell, that’s an appropriate tactic. If you’re denying me my fundamental rights because of parts of my identity that I cannot and will not change, not so much.
I wish these lawmakers would just admit they have some vendetta against queer and trans people. I have a tiny speck of respect for the ones that do: at least they’re honest.
But this coddling of their hatred in paper-thin excuses makes me so angry.
I am positive from the way some of Congress talks that much of the hatred and vitriol towards queer and trans people stems from ignorance. I believe people can truly hate that which they do not understand.
The solution is to teach tolerance. People are more understanding if they can link intangible concepts to actual people they know.
But it’s difficult for me and other marginalized people to try and embrace that solution. It’s not my job to be someone’s teacher. I’m not a textbook or Google.
Just because I am a political object and a political being does not mean that I owe anyone an explanation of my life. I don’t owe anyone a lesson in decency and my identity, especially if they’ve been horrid to my communities.
Because, of course, it is possible to be confused and ignorant and still be kind.
But nearly every day I hear about people like me being debated over in great halls of government.
North Carolina’s HB2.
Gavin Grimm’s legal quest to use the boy’s bathroom at his high school once — just once — before he graduates.
My body and identity and the bodies and identities of those like me have been politicized since before I was born. Before bathroom bills, it was marriage equality. Before that, it was anti-sodomy laws.
Look at contemporary reactions to the riots at the Stonewall Inn, Compton’s Cafeteria, and Cooper’s Donuts. Look at the Lavender Scare (which lasted much longer than its better-known sibling, the Red Scare).
Such ignorance, panic, and hatred towards queer and trans people in the political sphere has been going on forever. And I for one am damned well sick of it.