My twenty-three years on this earth feel like a thousand. I carry a knife and pepper spray to take out my trash. I am a closeted transgender American. I am not closeted by choice; I am forced there because to live outside is a death sentence. The average lifespan of a transgender American is twenty-three years.1 My twenty-fourth birthday looms less than sixty days away, and to be honest, I am sitting on pins and needles.
In his parting act, Barack Obama has commuted my sister in trans arms Chelsea Manning and for the first time in eight years I saw a glimmer of hope. (Assuming no maneuvering to keep her behind bars from the new administration – Ed.) Many people were pleased when a black man took the chair behind the Oval Office, though I saw what many comrades saw, a ruling class representative who happened to be black and I did not feel hope.
Worldwide 1,700 murders of trans people have been reported between 2008-2014.2 42 in the United States for 2015-16.3 Though we must look at these numbers with skepticism as these figures only include reported murders of people who openly identified as being transgender. If I was found murdered in a parking lot, society would dictate I was any normally gendered person with a love of high heels.
Yes, Chelsea Manning having her freedom is a sigh of relief, but we must ask ourselves: what life is there for us? What future is there for Chelsea Manning? Of course her commutation and freedom will bring her fame rivaling Kim Kardashian (at least for a minute), but will she end up like all of us, taking out her trash with a knife in her pocket?
Why come out of the closet when you can die for it? Why die when you have family and friends and comrades who rely on you? Where is our freedom? Freedom is not real unless you are a privileged male of Aryan descent, and even then, it’s a freedom to be stomped on less.
Comrades, our day has come to stand and be proud of our beliefs and our ties. We are to celebrate Chelsea Manning’s freedom without hesitation because it is a small glimmer of hope. We must stand with our LGBTQ comrades, friends and sometimes, enemies.
If you are straight you still may understand the struggle the LGBTQ community feels – being red in today’s age and time is not easy, but I reach out to you on behalf of my brethren and my party. Reach out to queer organizations in your area, go to a meeting or two, make a few friends and help them organize self-defense.4
2017 is our year. Our year to reach out and make that small glimmer of hope, the commutation of Chelsea Manning, and turn it in to a ray. Reach out to your community, make new friends, unite with the oppressed and help us, the Red Party, change the world rainbow style.
If you, my readers have any questions on how you can get involved with the LGBTQ community in your area please contact us and I will help you in any way I can. Between 2017 and 2018 I am going to be developing ideas for many projects to benefit my transgender brothers, sisters and in-betweens. One of these is a letter writing program for our people behind bars. Another is an online support group for likeminded folks. Little ideas snowball into big ideas and make glimmers of hope. So if you have your own ideas, concerns or just want to scream and shout because it is Tuesday, do it, don’t be afraid!
Peace be to my sister Chelsea Manning as you acclimate to the world outside of military prison walls. I send my love and my support. I wish you all the happiness and all the luck this dark world can give you. As much as I would have enjoyed an effective presidency I am happy the one good thing Obama did in eight years was give you some of the freedom you deserve.
I end my article with two final thoughts: I’d rather take a red with me to take out my garbage. The intellectual conversation, and because they’re definitely more scary than a knife. One last piece of advice: don’t use the world ally, it pisses most of us queers off.
- Please check local laws relating to permissible self-defense – we have enough trans people behind bars.