I've been avoiding one of my monthly-or-so letters on just how fucked things are in politics because they're depressing and a lot of work, but it would be irresponsible not to address a couple standout events that occurred recently. Putting them all into context will hopefully make you get up out of your chair and freak out a little, and that's kinda what we need.
At CPAC the week before last, conservative political commentator Michael Knowles stated that "transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely." There is room for legal hemming and hawing in that sentence, and I'm sure that was on purpose, but we should not take this statement to mean anything other than its simplest interpretation: this is a call for the eradication of Trans people. It is not a call for the "behavior" to be stopped. It is not a call for drag shows to only be held in private. It is not a call for the safety of minors to be ensured. This is a call for violence, persecution, incarceration, and death. This is not the first time that Knowles has intimated such a message, and we should believe the consistency.
The Ten Stages of Genocide
Are these. We are not in the first stage of genocide. We're not even in the third. Between rampant and accelerating anti-Trans legislation that is getting pushed across the United States and rhetoric like that of Knowles'–on one of conservative America's largest stages–arguments can be made for being as far along as stage seven or eight. Those steps are, from the above link:
7. Preparation – Perpetrators plan the genocide. They often use euphemisms like the Nazis did to cloak their intentions. They create fear of the victim group, building up armies and weapons.
8. Persecution – Victims are identified because of their ethnicity or religion and death lists are drawn up. People are sometimes segregated into ghettos, deported or starved and property is often expropriated. Genocidal massacres begin.
Probably a few of you reading this find the idea hyperbolic, that this country is headed toward genocide. First off, good morning, sleepyhead, I hope you've enjoyed your years-long nap. Second, consider the evidence. Tennessee just passed a bill criminalizing drag in public–to put it simply. The applicable text defines offenders as "male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest." Who defines "prurient interest" in effect is law enforcement, which means that anybody that happens to look Trans to Officer Friendly is going to get detained just for walking down the street. Another Tennessee bill would demand "adult cabaret" performers to apply for a permit–thereby providing the state with a list of names. Then there is a new bill out of Florida, which would allow for the literal kidnapping of children by non-custodial parents if they believed that child was "at risk" of receiving gender affirming care, whether medication or procedural–or, incredibly, if a parent or sibling were receiving that care. This essentially creates a sanctuary state for transphobic kidnappers, allowing them to take a child from their parent under the thinnest pretense and hide in Florida.
We've talked at length of the far-right discourse surrounding Trans men and women, and how it has stoked fears of child abuse–an idea adjacent to the liberal cabal of child-eaters that has not, as yet, become completely mainstream. That rhetoric, and the "groomer" label, pushed the needle. We've seen armed opposition to drag shows and story hours. The Club Q shooting proves people are willing to enact calls for stochastic terror. States are passing legislation that criminalizes, at minimum, the public existence of Trans people. If you roll back the clock only a few years you will find the public discourse surrounding Trans people was focused on bathroom bills and controversy around sports–the progression is swift and obvious. It has taken very little time for the Christo-fascist voices in the room to push this discourse off a cliff. And to be clear, if you need this reminder, this movement of extermination is beginning with Trans people. That should be enough reason for everyone to be up in arms, but if not, they will come for you before long. There are already signs. The Tennessee House just passed a bill that allows for county clerks to deny marriage licenses to anyone they see fit based on their "conscience" or religious beliefs–there are no limitations on this, meaning same sex couples, interracial couples, and interfaith couples could be denied. This should remind you of the early days of the end of Roe v Wade, when it was revealed Alito was keen to go after laws protecting contraception, privacy, and gay marriage next.
There are roughly two dozen more things we could talk about here, today. I want to talk about the recent gathering and mass-arrest in Atlanta over Cop City. I want to talk about Trump and DeSantis. I want to spell out more legislation–some of which isn't happening just in Florida and Tennessee. The lurch rightward is hurting all marginalized peoples, and that deserves addressing as well. But for now, I want to close this letter with something constructive. Here is a thread from Margaret Killjoy on simple things we can do in support of Trans people. Among the things in the thread are: showing visible support for LGBTQ People if you are not visibly LGBTQ yourself; reaching out to friends and neighbors to build community; and to consider your particular skillset and make it applicable to the struggles we're facing. Good advice.
Margaret also says that supply lines are more important than stockpiles in a crisis like this, which is absolutely true. Stockpiles run out, but sustainable production does not. This is why, as we're moving toward spring and warmer weather, we should be thinking about two big prepper-type activities that occur along with that: gardening and protesting. You gardeners should be doing two things: experimenting with what you grow and how; and focusing on volume–how much are you able to grow this year? How much can you give to aid groups? COVID relief packages are drying up and people will be very much in need. Help them. Protesters and protest supporters should be checking gear and techniques. Remember that you don't need to directly engage in either activity, but there are ways to contribute to both efforts.
Genocide will not be answered with toothless protest, nor with voting, but pushback is necessary now and at every level. When it comes to a life there is no need to split hairs with people who do not think exactly like you do, nor to be overly concerned about cleaving to your particular leftist ethic. Do what you can. Assist others in doing what they can. Find community defense organizations, mutual aid networks. Lend a hand. We can't stay on the sidelines anymore–to the far right, they don't exist.