TW: some discussion of abuse, transmisia, cisheterosexism, racism, ableism
Like many people, I have mixed feelings about 2017. It’s been one of the most difficult years to be active in politics, activism, and advocacy work. At the same time, it’s been a pretty big year for me personally.
I struggle with how much of myself to share at times. There are so many people who appreciate and enjoy the vulnerability that I try to have. There are others who tell me that my attitude and focus on activism is “too much” for them. Being a people-pleaser (thanks, mother), it’s hard to navigate where to go. Naturally, my inclination is to try to please everyone. However, I know this is impossible.
As an activist, I’ve found that people who consider me to be “too much” are the same ones who want everyone to get along. This is also impossible.
As someone who is trans, queer, and disabled, I encounter people all the time who wish I didn’t exist. Our government enacts policies that make it harder for my people to continue living for this very reason. White supremacists in our government are pushing back against policies meant to increase equality.
I don’t know how anyone could sleep at night while trying to make friends with people who want me dead. I just don’t.
For a long time, I did pretty well hiding my anger. After I cut my mother out of my life, so much toxicity had left and I felt whole for the first time in a long time. I was able to explore parts of myself I never could before. I tried to explore gender in college, but my mother didn’t want to hear anything about it. Since I’m open online about everything I’ve been through, I didn’t feel safe exploring that. Even though it caused me both physical and emotional pain, I bit my tongue when I should’ve spoken up about things under the guise of getting along with others.
In October 2016, I came out as not being cisgender and as being queer/pansexual. I had so many friends support me and rejoice with me for being able to articulate my gender identity and sexual orientation. In the months before, I learned more about integrity and the importance of staying true to myself. I started to push back against people’s misguided and hurtful comments.
A few weeks later when Cheeto Voldemort was elected, the fear and anger came back along with an overbearing sadness. I was disappointed in my fellow white people for refusing to see the challenges they were placing on others. I’d been blogging for nearly a decade openly about being disabled. I began to regret the vulnerability I showed in the past.
Combine that with my recently non-cishet identities and I was terrified.
I began to lose friends. It wasn’t because I hated people, but they refused to see why people in my communities – queer, trans, disabled – were afraid. They mocked us for our fear while preaching that we should all just learn to get along. What people mean in those moments is that they want us to deny who we are to make them more comfortable.
I grew up in that world. I woke up and went to sleep every single day for two decades denying my truth. My mother wanted queers wiped out, openly made transmisic and racist comments, embraced white supremacist ideology, and wanted to lift me up as inspiration porn – but only if I relied on her for my care. I spent much of my life biting my tongue and not speaking out against these ridiculous dehumanizing statements. I made a very specific and very difficult choice in cutting my mother out of my life so she could no longer abuse me. Why would I let friends do the same things my mother did?
I mean, do y’all not know me?
The Lisa Simpson inside of me came out and started pushing back against comments that were hurtful and wrong. I became very vocal about how scared I was and how that fear was a very real and very valid response to our political climate.
First, I got rid of friends who thought my people were just overreacting. Then, I started leaving Facebook groups full of oppression olympics (e.g., “My pain is worse than yours!”). I got kicked out of feminist groups for suggesting that labeling oneself an intersectional feminist without welcoming trans/GNC people openly was hypocritical. Using my bachelor’s in religious studies, I shared knowledge with my religious friends about how their viewpoints on religion and non-cishet people were misguided and poor representations of their faith.
Hell, I even started to use my memory of conversations to push back against friends who told different stories of interactions with abusers to different audiences while telling my MeToo story. In the fallout from that, I got emails from ‘friends’ about how my being open about my entire life felt exclusionary to them because that wasn’t their life.
Just because I’m blunt doesn’t make me a bitch or an asshole. I don’t have the energy or the time to entertain people who refuse to see the dangers around us or who only want to look at happy cats on their social media. That doesn’t change or fix our world. Yes, self-care has a place, but fighting needs to happen, too. Between contacting my political representatives daily, protesting, and more, there’s no room for me to please those who only want to see smiling, happy faces. That’s especially true when my health tanked this year.
In losing people who weren’t really friends in a do-or-die sense, though, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’m compassionate until someone gives me a reason not to be. People insert tone into my sentences that isn’t there, and that’s not my fault. When I hide emotions, I literally get sicker and deal with a huge amount of pain.
Most of all, I’ve learned that being angry is okay. Anger is an important emotion, one that we have to let ourselves feel. Life isn’t all rainbows, pride parades, and popcorning guinea pigs. Sometimes, life is anger, leading the Rebellion into the Empire’s fortresses. It’s waking up every single day ready to be on the attack because, if we’re not, our rights get taken away.
It’s been this way, every day, for over a year. Maybe I’m too much like Hamilton and I should talk less, smile more. I’m sure I’d get more opportunities, more work if I was just happier… but that’s not me. I work non-stop to help people. Being angry protects me from reaching back out to abusers, and I write for those in similar situations. Anger fuels my fight against those who would have me eliminated or harmed. It pushes me harder in research, writing, politics, and at the gym.
I’m angry – and that’s okay. I have every right to be, and so do you.