Human development is a fascinating topic, about which I know little. If you want the science, PZ could tell you infinitely more than I, but from what I do know, the whole process is fantastically complex. At every point in the development of pre-birth development, there are a myriad of things happening simultaneously, most of which could, in theory, go in a number of ways. Eye color is an obvious one, but there’s also hair color, facial features, vocal chords, the development and function of organs, and so on. Then, after someone’s born, there are all sorts of thing that influence how they develop as they grow up. All those experiences they have, the lessons they learn, the people around them – it all shapes the development of their brain, and while the brain may be considered “developed” in the mid 20s, most people keep learning and changing throughout their lives. Given that incredible plasticity and variation, it seems very, very unlikely to me that the one area of human development that is always consistent would be the division of humanity into precisely two sexes, let alone precisely two genders.
Take eyesight, for example. In addition to the array of eye colors, there’s also a wide spread of functionality. It’s not like the options are “can see” and “can’t see”, there are people who lose sight over their lives, and others who could never see to begin with. There are people who can see fine, but only at the very center of their vision, or people who can only see around the periphery. There are people who can’t see the difference between certain colors, but have excellent vision other than that. I admit that this is an argument from incredulity, in some ways, but the reality is that people who fall outside this miraculous gender binary that we’re supposed to have, have always existed, and have always made their presence known. There is ample evidence that trans people are who they say they are, and that they represent no threat, as a group, to anyone.
The problem is that, despite those facts, there is still a hate movement that is attempting to erase trans people from public life, and to that movement, facts do not matter. I’m absolutely certain that many of the people who are pushing this genocide forward are genuinely operating out of hatred and disgust. At the same time, they very demonstrably lie all the time, and it apparently makes no difference. I think it’s fair to say that they are, as fascists have done in the past, using hatred of a politically powerless minority as a way to rally support, justify extremism, and seize power. It’s been pointed out many times by now, but it bears saying again – this is, pretty much word for word, what the Nazis did, and it’s not a coincidence that this movement seems to share a lot of other rhetoric and “enemies” with Hitler’s party.
So, simply stating the facts is not enough. I suppose my “irrepressible complexity” argument is an effort to get some people to open their minds, if only a little, to a different perspective. Unfortunately, that’s also not enough. They’re coming for trans people right now, in some parts of the United States, which means those of us who want to be considered allies need to step up, however we can. Thankfully, some people have been doing just that, which lets me give some examples of how someone could help.
People have been speaking out at school board meetings and other public events. Legislators and activists have worked to speak against legislation targeting trans people, and to amend that legislation to reduce the harm that it can do. Teachers are working to provide a more thorough understanding of the complexity of sex and gender throughout nature, and people are showing up all over the world to oppose the leaders of this hate movement. Local communities are rallying to defend the targets of fascist hate, and to stand in opposition to fascist rallies, and (which is relevant to today) publicly showing support for the trans community.
We all have limits on what we’re able to do. Not everyone is able to be a frontline warrior, and not everyone has the power or ability to affect legislative change. As far as I can tell, while there’s always a strong need for those willing to put their bodies on the line, liberatory movements tend to understand that it takes a village to raise a movement. There’s a need for all sorts of people, with all sorts of skills, doing all sorts of things. I’m a cis guy, so I wouldn’t presume to speak on what people should do, or what counts as “enough”, but the message I’ve seen for this trans day of visibility, including from FTB alum Dr. Jey McCreight, is that the very least we can do is publicly support trans rights, and publicly show our love for the trans people in our lives.
I’m bad at making myself do actual activism these days (it’s something I’m working on), so this is me, doing the bare minimum. As far as I know, there’s zero chance that this will cost me anything, socially. My immediate family and social circle seem to all be pretty cool people, with trans friends and loved ones of their own. They, like me, have seen the joy of trans people being able to just live, without constantly having to perform a lie, and that makes it easy to understand why that’s a right worth fighting for.
An official “Day of X” generally serves to draw attention to an issue that really ought to be on people’s minds all the time. When it comes to this issue, I’m willing to bet my readers think about it at least as much as I do, so while you probably don’t need my two cents, here’s my advice to myself: Look for ways to help, especially where you are. Even if there’s not an active effort to oppress trans people where you live, there are probably still groups working to build and organize support for trans rights. If you find yourself with money to spare, look for activist groups that are fundraising, or even just trans people who need help making ends meet. Keep an eye out for events like the one in Dublin that I missed today. It’s good to show up for events like that, and they’re a way to network with other activists if you’re looking to do so. If you want to be considered an ally, show yourself to be one through your actions.
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