By now we have all heard of the horrific attack at Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado.
It’s absolutely shocking and frightening and it’s all too common. The reality that this happens at all is infuriating. Patrons of Q have said that it’s one of the few places someone who is queer can go in a conservative leaning city. Places like Q are crucial for our community.
The phrase “safe space” has gotten weirdly political in recent years and I wonder why. I mean, doesn’t every person want someplace they can go to feel part of a community? A place for others like themselves, regardless of their gender, sexual preference, or anything else one can identify with?
It’s important for girls like us to have places where we are welcome. It’s important that sport fans can watch the big game with other fans at a bar. It’s important that there are conventions for people who love science fiction.
When these spaces are invaded it’s hard not to feel someone is being… hunted.
As much as I would love for the world to love and support people like us, I know in my heart that this is not realistic in my lifetime. I would settle for being left alone. If you’re not going to be an ally then at least stop trying to hurt us.
Attacks like this impact everyone reading this website. It’s an all too deadly reminder that we’re are always at risk. When I am out en femme I know there’s the potential to be attacked, whether verbally or physically. And it could happen literally anywhere. I tend to go to very public places, such as malls or coffee shops but people who are prone to hurting us are potentially everywhere. While it’s true that the danger of being attacked in the middle of a crowded mall isn’t as high as walking down a dark alley there’s always the risk someone could follow me, watch the car I leave in, and follow me home.
And yes, even in this example the chances of this happening aren’t very high but the fact that this could happen at all because of my gender presentation and gender identity is terrifying.
I’ve written before how representation is more or less thrust upon those in the LGBTQ+ community. Even if I am not being interviewed on television or giving a presentation or whatever (not that I tend to do these things), I am still representing the trans community when I am wandering around the mall. What I do en femme and how I interact with the world will likely make an impression and influence someone’s opinion of girls like us.
Is this fair? No.
If I am rude to someone I am fully aware that the interaction could potentially cause someone to think that “transwomen are bitchy”.
I try to be pleasant and… well, non-threatening. I smile, I try to be chatty, and do what I can to hopefully appear… um, normal. Like it’s normal that a transperson is in line at Starbucks, just like you are.
In addition to simply, well, existing, I am also somewhat of a leader in the community but this was never my intention.
When I started blogging I didn’t think I would ever find an audience or have people tell me that I inspire them or that they could relate to what I write. I don’t mean to be an… um, an authority on anything. But regardless of my intentions, it kind of happened.
Because of this… influence I may have, I am very careful about what I write. If I have an opinion on something then I try very hard to stress that what I am writing about is my opinion and that if someone has a different perspective it doesn’t mean that either of us is wrong. It’s just different points of view. If someone asks about my thoughts on an issue in their relationship when it comes to this side of us, then I really emphasize that this is my opinion and I am not a therapist and that I will absolutely encourage someone to seek out counseling.
Please know this.
I am aware that someone saying things like “I am a leader” comes across as very egotistical or self-important. My ego or self-esteem are not emboldened by these words. I think any of us who posts on their website or hits the town en femme becomes, on some level, a representative of our community.
When I started the MN T-Girls almost ten years ago I knew the responsibility I was taking on. If I was going to start a support/social group for girls like me then I had to be reliable and consistent. Staying in contact with the group, organizing events, and endless planning.
An aspect that didn’t occur to me at the beginning was how responsible I would feel for the group and for every t-girl who joined.
This responsibility is wide-ranging. If a t-girl doesn’t like their food when we go out to dinner I feel disappointed with them and for them. If someone looks at one of the t-girls in a less than kind way, I feel sad with them and for them.
I feel responsible for every aspect of every event. I worry if the girls can find a place to park, if they feel safe when walking to their car, that they feel that it was a fun event.
But safety is the biggest one. It’s the one I think about all the time.
I honestly don’t know if in five years the world will be a safer place or a worse place for the LGBTQ+ community. We see more representation in entertainment which in a way, normalizes non-cis/non-het people but we’re also seeing our legal rights and access to medical care being taken away.
It’s not hard to feel that further violence is inevitable.
I worry so much about a member of the T-Girls being attacked. I worry so much about potential violence against us not only for our group but for the entire community.
I feel that any support group does good things. I feel that the MN T-Girls is a very good resource and club, if you will. But I also feel that any gathering has the potential for violence.
When I welcome a new t-girl to the group, I communicate the privacy and safety expectations to them. And for the most part these are respected. It truly takes all of us to ensure our safety. I am also fully aware that this isn’t 100000% without risk. If someone wanted to hurt us they could probably find a way.
Our group has attended Pride over the last few years. It’s the only MN T-Girl event where the details are made public before it happens. I am always very very very hesitant to do this. I don’t want this information out there because, well, letting some people know where a group of transgender women will be absolutely opens up the risk of something horrible happening.
Could our group be attacked at Pride? Of course. Violence at Pride events are not unheard of.
When violence occurs at LGBTQ+ friendly events or businesses it always leads me to thinking that perhaps I should close the book on the MN T-Girls. We have gotten very, very, very lucky in the almost ten years that the group has existed to have avoided any attack or threats.
So, if historically the group has been incident free, why stop? My reasoning is perhaps it’d be best to quit before an incident happens. I know that this is a fatalistic perspective but it’s hard not to feel that it’s inevitable.
The group IS a good thing. But lately I’ve been thinking of a lyric from a song by Ani DiFranco:
Beneath everything I can think of to think about
Beneath it all
Beneath all get out
Beneath the good and the kind and the stupid and the cruel
There’s a fire that’s just waiting for fuel
Members of the LGBTQ+ community have a target on their backs. I think this is particularly true for those who are gender non-conforming. I mean, it’s obvious Hannah isn’t cis. If you hated trans people, well, I kind of broadcast my gender identity to the world.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 there was a prevailing mentality of not letting the terrorists win. This thinking, this resolve was more or less a defiance of resolving not to let terror impact our lives. I am reminded of this when an attack on our community happens. People who hate us want us to go away but we have every right to exist. If we are not going to let the people who terrorize us “win” then we shouldn’t “go away”. I mean, that’s what the bad guys want.
But it’s hard to be strong and brave when things like Q happen. It’s hard not to want to dissolve the MN T-Girls out of fear or potential violence.
And again, that’s what the bad guys want.
So, I don’t know what to think. Or what to do. Or what is smart. Or brave. Or stupid. Or courting fate.
But I do know that the MN T-Girls will still exist at this time tomorrow. I know that we will still have our monthly event in December. I know that I am thinking of an over-the-top party to celebrate our ten year anniversary in 2023.
For members of the T-Girls who are reading this, please know your safety is at the front of every event I plan. Heavy is the head that wears the tiara, I suppose. I wish every LGBTQ+ person felt safe. I wish we all were safe.
Please look out for yourselves and for each other.