One of the few woo peers I have that was separate from my abusive ex is vaguely aware of what I’m going through. In true woo fashion, she tried to offer some advice: “Of course you’re wilting, Shiv, you surround yourself with so much negativity. Stop being such a draaaag, woman.”
Said peer is an able-bodied cisgender white woman who is conventionally attractive and in a heterosexual relationship with a man who makes a handsome salary. Like most woosters who advocate for separating oneself from “negativity,” she has enough privilege given her circumstances that it truly doesn’t matter who is in office, because she’ll never be the target of discriminatory legislation. She can afford to pretend the government doesn’t exist.
I’ll concede that tracking political idiocy is definitely not an emotionally nourishing activity. It absolutely takes its toll on me. However, I feel that the work of advocating, educating, signal boosting, etc. is more important than the cost it takes on me.
To start, I am my own boss. FTB is a fairly hands-off network. There’s an agreement not to “punch-down,” and as long as you’re not as egregious as tf00t, you’ll generally never hear from the rest of the network in a formal capacity. We’ll disagree openly from time to time but this isn’t considered a problem on a free thought network (go figure). But there’s no time cards and no accountability for the volume of material we produce. The point is, I get to apportion how much time I spend researching stupidity to report on it. If I feel like I need to allocate more time to self care, I will. It’s that simple. I can put myself on med leave any time I want, for as long as I want. Some of the silly stuff I report on, like Good Music to have Stuck in Your Head or Fun Things to Try in Kink, are a way of me continuing my blag while blowing off some steam.
Second, I’m frequently accused of being a democratic crusader. I take the notion of democratic participation very seriously, and it puts people off when I blast them for their apathy. The process of voting means empowering someone to make decisions that affect law; that people make this vote without thoroughly investigating their candidates is absolutely appalling to me. And I definitely lose a few friends every time I mention not voting at all (which is different from casting an “abstain” on your ballot) makes one complicit in whoever is chosen. We have the power to empower a representative. I say, recognize that power, and use it wisely. Which brings me back to reporting on political idiocy.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: We’re all fucking idiots about something. But we at least have the power to choose what kind of idiot we want in office. Someone who antagonizes the development of nuclear energy, in my mind, is preferable to someone who antagonizes the development of minority rights and protections. So I’ll cast my vote for environmentalist parties who don’t support the nuclear industry, despite believing in arguments in favour of it, because they’re more likely to bolster (rather than shit on) my rights, and the consequences of having explicit rights outweigh the consequences of a solar-hydro-wind power grid.
In other words, I can’t afford to pretend the government doesn’t exist, because its agents–from emergency responders to bureaucrats who have my history on file–have the power to antagonize me. So I want a government that says, “that’s not okay.” Not a government who is willing to give a free pass to police officers who arrest me for having condoms on my person, or a government who doesn’t prosecute the EMT who decides my life isn’t worth saving because of my genitals.
These are not things cis people typically think about, certainly not what woosters think about when they tell me to stop being a “drag,” so I have to make it apparent that these are the issues that affect me and the democratic process means they won’t stop being issues until enough people start to care about it such that it becomes their voting issue too. Trans people, being a tiny minority, can’t do this alone.
In other words, I take this shit so seriously because I can’t afford to be apathetic. The status quo is stressful enough as it is. If I can get even one cis person to add trans issues to their voting docket, then I have done my job as an activist. I’ll keep going, obviously, because we need more than one vote to get anywhere, but you get what I mean.
Having the option to ignore the government? It means you have privilege. It means your rights aren’t a hotbed of debate, where there is a very real possibility someone could enter office with an agenda to put you down. I freely admit that my mental health would improve in the absence of this, but the sad truth is that ignoring them doesn’t actually make the consequences of a discriminatory government go away. When I hear, “just let it all go, maaan” what I actually understand is “I can afford to ignore the government, why can’t you?” They go on to try and guilt-trip me into thinking I have a choice. “You always have a choice, maaan” is one of the more common and infuriating ideas perpetuated by woosters. You choose to be upset. You choose to be oppressed. What are you complaining about? I’ve never had any anxiety when going to the bathroom. Clearly you’re stressing yourself out over imaginary problems.
Well, my “choices” are: 1) Participate in democracy and do what I can to choose and boost the least awful disaster of a political party; or 2) Smile and sing kumbaya while I subject myself to the mercy of the majority who has a history of sucking ass when it comes to treating minorities equitably. My rights won’t write themselves into existence. Maybe that’s easy to forget when yours have already been secured.