Let me make myself clear

I’m seeing mixed reactions to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s veto of an anti-trans bill that would have prohibited medically indicated and often medically necessary health care, as well as trans children’s participation in children’s intramural sports.

Some people are saying this is not particularly good news, since there are enough Republicans in the state lege to override the veto. Others are noting that this move might be entirely political, with DeWine seeking an undeserved reputation for sympathy towards trans children and adults.

I wish to go on record saying this:

Fuck that shit. Fuck all of it. Fuck it off the planet. Fuck it in an Elon Musk rocket. Fuck it all the way to Mars where it can up and fucking die.

Let’s tackle the latter bit first, the fear that DeWine might be seeking an undeserved reputation for sympathy towards trans kids especially and trans adults by association. In case you have missed the last four hundred years, things have not exactly been gloriously happy in TrannyLand. Indeed there’s been a hot minute here where there were no out trans CEOs in the Fortune 500 at all, when stats say that there should be 2 to 10. Believe it or not, but trans people haven’t been particularly popular. We aren’t the cool kids that have been consistently overrepresented on the Supreme Court of Canada. We haven’t been the rulers of our own cults. Cis guys don’t beg trans power brokers to cover Viagra in their prescription drug benefits.

Let’s read between the lines a moment: Cis people don’t need us, and they make that plain every fucking day.

If a politically powerful Republican cis white guy feels the need to stage a photo op to tell the world that he’s not personally down with hating on trans kids, that speaks of a momentous change in political reality.

Think about it for a second, with your most cynical cap on. If you’re saying that this guy doesn’t love trans people at all but feels for the most Machiavellian reasons the need to act like he cool with trans kids continuing to exist, that speaks of a shift in political reality that I couldn’t even imagine it when I taped a plastic bag over my head in the fifth grade. Hell, even as a high school junior, nearly an adult, I wasn’t thinking this was possible when I was stealing poison from the chem lab and swallowing it. When I was in my thirties and so out of my mind that I felt like I was watching someone else’s body hacking at its wrists when all the time that was my own hand holding the knife, I knew for sure that the world had changed for the better and I still wasn’t able to conceive of cynical republicans who defend trans kids because they fucking have to if they ever want to be elected again. When they knocked me unconscious for the thirty-fifth time in order to pour so much electricity through my skull that they call this electro-convulsive therapy, emphasis on the convulsive, it occurred to me to think it would be really nice if I had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia and didn’t ever have to wake up, but it didn’t occur to me that an Ohio Republican would be afraid of looking like he was being mean to me.

So if you’re thinking that this isn’t great news because your political hobgoblin is using this photo op to appear better than he is, first off look up the definition of photo op, and second, if true, OH MY FUCKING GOD THIS IS HISTORIC NEWS. This is great news. This is fantastic news. This is amazing news. This is the news we should sacrifice to create, nu? And if you want it permanent, all you have to do is do what you’ve already been doing a little harder, a little longer, to get a small handful of Republicans to think that they can make out like cynical, Machiavellian bandits if only they pat trans kids on the head instead of knifing them in the belly.

But let’s say that we don’t make it this time, that the GOP legislative super-majority overrides DeWine’s veto. That brings up the first objection I was seeing to celebrating this news. To that objection I respond that I don’t have it in me to wish for no more trans kids taping plastic over their heads only to survive when their moms come home early and in their fear of failing to die and getting beaten for their suicide attempt, they decide it’s better to tear the plastic off themselves and quickly hide the evidence. I don’t have it in me because I know there are too many isolated, damaged trans children to realistically expect that this will never happen again. Instead, I cry fierce tears of hope that maybe, just maybe, there will be one less this year than last. Maybe two. Dare I hope three?

Every trans child is precious to me, and though you may not be aware, one of the greatest predictors of future suicide is social isolation. The entire purpose of the Ohio SAFE Act was to cut trans children off not only from medical support, but also the everyday activities that more than 50% of schoolchildren participate in, finding belonging, camaraderie, and friendship. The entire purpose of this act is to isolate trans children, and there is no way in hell it doesn’t end up killing its share.

But what if we could delay it a week with a Governor’s veto? How many kids could find just one more friend, just one friend, with seven extra days together with a few other children who enjoy the same things? What if we could stretch it out to a month? How many kids would a month save? What if the Governor’s veto set an example that convincingly faked sympathy towards trans children was a reasonable attitude? What if one more Christian fascist schoolteacher held her tongue, worried the tyrannical left would cancel her if she said what she was really thinking about one student’s name change? What if his praise of the medical science led a court to take seriously a parent’s lawsuit on behalf of her child? What if that was the difference that allowed the court to stay the law for another month until trial. What if it was stayed another year to give time for appeals?

How many trans children could graduate and get the fuck out of Ohio in a year? Six hundred? A thousand? How many out of that thousand might otherwise have broken into the chem lab? How many thought about it?

Even among the kids who were destined to live anyway, how much anguish would be avoided with this child or that playing volleyball instead of brooding alone?

Look, I’m damaged, and not all of that is from how the world treats trans people. But not every trans kid is going to be undamaged. We are just as complicated as you. Some of us will be going hungry because they live in fucking Ohio and not Minnesota where school kids’ food is free. Some of us will be religious and feel guilty. Some of us will be abused. Most of us will hate ourselves at times and not even really understand why. Even if all cissexism disappeared overnight, some of us would be raped by a pastor, a coach, a cousin, a parent. Some of us would join a gang and get killed in a drive by. Some of us will be loved and supported and never doubt that we deserve the world.

This life isn’t perfect and it’s not going to be. Some of us will be unlucky, some of us will win the lottery, which is why the denigration and isolation faced by trans kids are risk factors not pre-recorded fates. I get it that you want to save all the children, not just some. That’s great of you. And yes, it’s sure as hell my damage speaking when I say that I want to save them all, but I think it’s a miracle if we save one. But that’s where I’m at.

There’s a reason we need to fight problems with both eradication and harm reduction in mind. And if you’re focussed on the eradication, maybe it doesn’t seem like that big a deal that some trans kid crying in his room is going to maybe get a pick-me-up when he hears that there’s a chance he really will get to play on the baseball team this spring. But I fucking guarantee you it’s a big deal to that kid.

And if DeWine gets a few too many pats on the back from a few too many ignorant, privileged political bros for doing the right thing for the wrong reason, I’m not going to let that stop me from celebrating this world-shattering news that cissexism doesn’t pay like it used to, and the kids still get to play another day.

You do what you want. Your feelings are valid; you feel what you feel.

But this is my line. This is where I stand. I don’t care about DeWine if another kid can stop her hand from turning against herself.

This is a good day. This is what nice times look like.


  1. John Morales says

    Passionate post.

    Turning of the tide, maybe not.

    But when it turns, the very beginning might look like this.

  2. lanir says

    I think they’re probably all just playing politics. The state legislature is assuming the worst about the voters in their state. The governor is just afraid they’re wrong. But whether I’m right about that or not, it’s good any time it takes the bigots more effort to push their ideas onto everyone else.

  3. raz says

    And now DeWine has backpedaled so hard he’s outdone the original bill, and announced executive orders that might as well be a ban on *all* trans healthcare; in the same way most abortion providers can’t manage hospital admitting privileges, most clinics providing HRT can’t possibly afford an endo and a fucking *bioethicist* on staff to sign off on every patient. But he got his back pats and the initial lede about him vetoing the bill will stick in the public mind, if anything does, not the fact that he only stopped the legislature from hitting us with a hammer so he could drop an anvil on us. This is why reactions were mixed; I live in a red state and I’ve seen the pause before they drop the other shoe before. This was always just the same game, and we were always just the ball- DeWine just showboated before he dunked us.

  4. Hex says

    Is there going to be an update to this post about how he then went and made everything a million times worse? Speaking as a trans person who lives in Ohio and my entire family and community is absolutely devastated, many have already made suicide plans for when they run out of meds and can’t get any more, and it feels like so many people rushed out to celebrate this, told everyone who heard his words about how he wanted more restrictions and expressed concerns to pipe down, then went completely silent when things got worse. I feel fucking abandoned

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *