Frustration: Living In A World Against You

Last night a friend on Facebook posted an article about the transgender high school senior  Lila Perry from a high school in Missouri. Lila had come out as a transgender girl the prior year, and was required to take a gym class for the credits during her tenure at the school.  She chose to wait until this year (2015), which was her senior year, so that she could use the correct locker room for her gender, which is of course female.  However, due to this many parents threw a fit, and over 150 students walked out of class to protest her using the correct locker room.  This issue has been apparently “resolved” and Lila has been bullied out of taking the class at all despite the fact that her using the appropriate locker room would do nothing to harm anyone else at the school in anyway (some parents have said that she might expose her penis to the girls, but I had to take gym class with using the guy’s locker room growing up and that stuff didn’t even happen there with men who love their penises, I’m 100% sure this would be a non issue like the supposed rape of cis women because of trans women using women’s bathrooms); however, not taking the class or being forced to use the men’s locker room would be absolutely detrimental to Lily.

To put this in layman’s terms over 150 students, and their parents bullied a teenage girl into submission for doing absolutely nothing wrong and hurting absolutely no one.

Now, any person with even the least bit of empathy for other human beings would read that last sentence and be abhorred.  However, once the fact that Lila is a transgender girl has been revealed, many people change their tune and now, suddenly, the teenage girl is the villain and those students and parents are valiant heroes who were standing up against her oppression and tyranny.  At least, this is exactly the song that was sung by a commenter on this article that my friend posted about the subject.

This person came in swinging every single ignorant transphobic argument I have ever heard.  He stated that a transgender girl in the girls locker room would be unsafe for the “real girls” because she might flaunt her penis or sexually assault them.  He argued that even if not, if anyone was uncomfortable even if there was no penis involved or actual reason to be uncomfortable, that trumped the rights of this transgender girl.  When I, and several others, challenged this person on his views he first went on about how transgender people are trying to force our lifestyles on everyone, and this is America where “cis people have rights too, not just trans people.”  Then stated that she was sick in the head and needed help, and he knew this because the Bible told him so.

Literally every backwards and completely with out merit argument that cis people ignorant to trans issues use to demonize us was listed by this person in one rather impressive, albeit bigoted go.

Yet, the worst part of it was that when he finally realized that he wasn’t going to convince me or other trans people that he was right, he said that he would “agree to disagree.”

So, what is wrong with him wanting to agree to disagree?  After all, people do have the rights to their opinions no matter how backwards, asinine, and baseless they may be.

Well, here is the issue.  When under privileged people “agree to disagree” with the privileged majority who is oppressing them, that is consequentially the same as losing.  If we look back at slavery, every slave probably disagreed with slavery.  Obviously.  That system was a horrid system to imprison a human being and force them into servitude for another human being for no other reason than the color of their skin.  We know this now.  But, at the time, many people, especially in the regions where slavery was legal and in practice, thought it was perfectly fine, and even benefited from slavery.

Of course slaves I’m sure were not allowed to speak back to or argue with their “masters” with out facing extreme punishment, but if they were or if a free person who was against slavery were to argue on their behalf, the conversation would have probably gone similarly.  The pro slavery party would make up arguments of why slavery is a good thing with no basis in reality, and be faced with facts by their opposition of why slavery is a bad thing.  But, with no legal recourse to be taken, in the end if that slave owner decided to “agree to disagree” the slaves would still be slaves and nothing would change.

This is exactly what happened to me last night, and what is happening to many people who are a member of an underprivileged group all over the world.  Whether it be from the way Saudi Arabian men make every decision for their women and decide their rights to the #BlackLivesMatter movement closer to home, oppressed people are simply flung away by the privileged majority when they become an inconvenience, and since these people don’t have proper representation in government or raw numbers, there is little they can do about it.  In fact, this treatment is why #BlackLivesMatter started in the first place because black people are being murdered by police, and in general as well, and often treated like second class citizens and the majority when asked to help ignored their pleas.

That is what happens.  If someone else’s problem is not important to the majority, or seen as an inconvenience to them like a trans girl wanting to use the right locker room or black people wanting police to be held accountable for killing unarmed black people, the majority doesn’t have to fight it.  They are the majority.  They win by default if it becomes a stalemate, because they hold the power and in any stalemate nothing will change meaning that the oppressed will lose and suffer for it.

This is of course utterly and completely frustrating.  The feeling of seeing members of a group you belong to suffer and be oppressed simply because they are a member of that group is the epitome of frustration.  Living in a world that is often against oneself and being whisked off to the side like a neglected dog begging for a walk while its master is watching the game when important issues are brought up is physically painful.  I’m not exaggerating with that.  The frustration I feel in these situations actually hurts in my chest, and there is little I can do about it.

Of course that does not mean that oppressed people should give up because no one will ever listen or care.  There are those who do listen and care, people who are true allies.  And, oppressed people have made change over time, sometimes very quickly.  But, such change can not easily come when one side refuses to play the game.

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Queer Demons: A Short Story

Queer Demons: A Short Story by Julie Langston

Content Note:  This story contains disturbing themes and images including graphic violence, transphobia, homophobia, physical and emotional abuse of a minor, strong language, religious themes, themes of suicide and self harm.  This story is not for those who are easily offended, so if you are, this is your warning.  Otherwise, I hope you enjoy this story, and please let me know your thoughts on it and feel free to share it if you like it.

“You are going to die and go to Hell! Do you want to die and go to Hell because of your gender confusion and sodomy?” Pastor Ducarr stood over Rissa as she sobbed, curled in a ball, her knees held up to her chin tightly by her arms. She did not want to live anymore. There could be no place worse than this. The pastor frowned when she did not respond with naught but a muffled sob, so he kicked her hard in the side and repeated, “I asked you if you wanted to go to Hell, boy? Because that is where you are headed if you keep up crying like some sissy girl. I know you like to think you are a girl, but you are not a girl. You have a penis, so you are a man! So man up, or die and burn in Hell!”

“I don’t care…” Rissa whispered. It took all of her strength just to give that simple response with out screaming and crying. “If going to Hell would mean I would never have to put up with you and people like you again, then I don’t care!”

“What did you just say to me?!” Ducarr kicked her again, this time harder than before and Rissa sprawled out of her ball. She did not bother going back into it, she just laid there, flat on her back staring towards the ceiling, but at nothing at all.

Ducarr spat on her and laughed. “Finally going to stop trying to hide? Prissy little bitch. You’re lucky to be born a man. As a man, God says that your place is to follow him and lead women. Not to sit there on the floor crying. I wish you were a girl too. If you were I would teach you what it means to be a woman. But, you aren’t a girl. You are a man with a cock. And, I expect you to get up and stop acting like a bitch.”

Rissa did not budge an inch. She hated him. She hated Ducarr. She hated the Church and Pastor Montgomery. More than anything, though, she hated her parents for forcing her to come here.

Her memory flashed back to two weeks prior.

It was her sixteenth birthday, and she had spent the morning in tears. For the last sixteen years Marissa Abrams, a girl, had been forced to live as a boy. Her oppressors did not know what they were doing. To them, she was a boy, and they had no reason to think otherwise. On her birth certificate it said male, and in all the anatomy books her genitals were also listed as male. This did not however change the fact that she had known that she was a girl for at least thirteen of those sixteen years. She may have even felt this way longer than that, but she had no memories prior to three years old, and even those were faded and few.

Still, every day that she could remember she had felt that she was a girl. She remembered even at four or five saying as much, but just being laughed at and told that she was a boy. After a while she started to believe that she was a boy. But, no matter how many times she told herself that she was, she could not believe it. Something inside of her shouted female, and that shout could not be silenced by the billion other shouts telling her otherwise.

When Rissa had reached puberty the shouts from both sides grew infinitely more intense, and she fell into a deep depression as other girl’s started to develop in womanly ways while she grew more and more masculine. As other girl’s started to grow breasts, she started growing hair on her upper lip and fuzz on her chin, and she realized that her body was a traitor to her.

Since then she had been in a constant depression. She begged with her body not to do what it was doing. She tried to starve herself, punish herself, cut herself in order to take away the pain. Nothing worked. She then started to beg God to cure her. At first she begged Him to make her into a girl. She prayed that she would fall asleep and the next morning she would wake up with a vagina and learn that all of this was just a horrible dream. When that failed, she begged for God to make her happy being a guy. She even started working out and hanging out more with her guy friends than her girl friends to play the role, but this did not work either.

Eventually she even turned to witchcraft. Her family was deeply religious and always taught her that the occult and magic was evil and forbidden, so at first the idea scared her. But, as time went on and her pain grew deeper and deeper she decided it was worth a try. If God would ignore her pleas, perhaps the Devil would not.

She had first looked to Wicca. Several of her friends were witches and practiced the religion. This held her interest for close to a year before she grew weary of it. She learned quickly that her conservative Christian view of Wicca, and paganism in general, was wrong. She also learned that magic did not work, or at least if it did, the results were no more observable than the results of prayer. She enjoyed the nature worshiping aspects of her practice, but it was not what she was looking for.

Thus, she turned to Satanism, to black magic in order to try and achieve her goals. Here too she was disappointed. Satanism was nothing like portrayed in Christianity with midnight dances with demons and secret knowledge of the occult. Most of the Satanists she knew were simply atheists who admired the figure of Satan. There was magic, but even her fellow practitioners admitted it was purely ritualistic, so she dropped that idea more quickly than she had even dropped the idea of Wiccan magic.

When magic had failed Rissa focused back on living her life. She learned on the internet that there were people like her; they were called transgender people. People who were assigned one sex, but whose gender did not match that sex mentally, emotionally, socially, nor in any other way other than raw parts and labels. She also learned that these people could eventually be happy and live as themselves, even taking hormone supplements and other treatments to make their body more suitable to their mentality.

If she could only make it until she was eighteen and out of the house, she could finally be herself. That became Rissa’s new plan. To just survive until she could make it on her own, and then she could transition and live as the woman she always knew that she was.

She quickly realized that surviving until that point would be a task much more challenging than she had first imagined. Every day seemed like an eternity, and while she at first had hoped that time would go quickly, when it did not she found herself hoping again for death. Perhaps eighteen years old was four years… three years… two years away, but it seemed no closer and the effects testosterone were having on her body were not slowing. Rissa realized that she could not wait any longer to be herself.

So, she set herself a new goal with resolve. On her sixteenth birthday, Rissa would come out to her family as herself and tell them that she was a transgender girl. Perhaps they would be understanding. The prospect was terrifying, but the possibility of acceptance and being able to start living as herself and maybe even go on testosterone blockers gave her hope. Her family was always a bit conservative, but they loved her – or at least they loved “him”, so there was hope.

Two weeks prior to Rissa laying on the floor of a “Pray Away the Gay Camp” crying and bloodied from being abused and beaten by a monster disguised as a man named Pastor Ducarr, that day, Marissa Abrams sixteenth birthday had come.

She remembered the anticipation that morning as she woke up and went to her closet to prepare herself for what she was about to do. At first Rissa’s plan had been to write her family a letter detailing how she felt and about her identity, but as she sat down to write, the words did not come. So, she then resolved herself to tell them, but she knew that if she were to try and have a sit down like that she would lose her resolve and change the subject as she had when she tried to tell her best friend, Tammy, about this. About her. That she was a she and not a “him”. If she could not tell Tammy, who had been one of her two best friends since elementary school, the girl who knew that Rissa was “gay” and had made out with a boy in the eighth grade, there was no way she could tell that to her family who saw her as their heterosexual son.

With writing how she felt and saying how she felt out as options, Rissa decided that her best choice would be to “show” how she felt. She had girl’s clothes and make up that she bought over the last few years – a garment here, a powder there – that she wore when her parents were out of town. Today she would wear them in front of others for the first time. Once she appeared down the stairs in a dress and make up, there would be no turning back. Any spur of the moment lie she could make up to excuse why she was dressed like that would be worse than the truth. Thus, with this knowledge, she set herself to her decision.

She picked a cute black and white striped dress that she had picked up from a bargain from a thrift shop she had to volunteer at for her tenth grade leadership class. It was high cut on top, hiding her shoulders which were too wide for her liking, but still had short sleeves making it appropriate for the summer. The skirt came down to just above her knees, enough to show her freshly shaven legs, but still long enough to likely be considered appropriate; at least appropriate for any ordinary girl her age to wear – how appropriate her family would find it on her would yet to be decided.

The dress was neutral against her light freckled skin and medium length brown hair which she usually styled in a way to make her face look boyish. Today she would brush it out and part it in such a way to bring out the femininity in her oval face. She picked make up to match, or rather she picked the only make up she had, which fortunately did match her complexion well with this dress. She had an ivory foundation and natural powder which were just a tone darker than her skin. She outlined her green eyes with shades of brown and black eyeliner before finally layering on as much mascara as she possibly could in order to make her fairly short eyelashes noticeable. Last she smacked on a light red lipstick and covered it with a pink gloss to blend the colors to make her lips look almost natural colored, but still shimmer in the light.

When all was done she looked at herself in the mirror, and she was beautiful by anyone’s standards. She had only done this a few times a year the last few years, as that was all that was afforded to her, yet, never before had she matched how she looked now. Right now she radiated femininity and beauty. She would have been happy to look this cute if she had been born female, considering her circumstances, her reflection astounded her.

Rissa’s thoughts and feelings of self admiration quickly dissipated as she remembered the reason why she was all done up. In a few moments she would be confronting her parents and sister for the first time as a girl. She knew her sister suspected that she was a gay guy, and in fact would not have been surprised if her parents thought the same, but she knew none of them would ever see this coming. She swallowed air hard and waited to be called down the stairs.

After what seemed like hours, but was likely just a few minutes there was a light knock on her door, and her mother’s voice called out, “Tom, wake up! It’s time for breakfast!”

Rissa cringed. She hated that name, Tom. Tom Abrams was the name given to her at birth, and what she had been called for the last sixteen years, but it was not her name. Her name was Marissa, or Rissa – which is what her friends on the internet called her as a pet name. Maybe, just maybe after this she would never have to be called ‘Tom’ again.

Her heart beat a million beats per minute from inside her stomach as she stood up and patted out her dress, trying to remove specks of powder foundation that had fallen onto it while she was applying her make up. She wanted to faint, but somehow she did not. She managed to take one step towards the door, then another, then another, and then finally opened it. The hallway was empty, and she turned and went to the stair case. Each step down the stairs her heart beat grew heavier and she almost turned and ran away, but she forced herself to keep going.

Then, suddenly, Rissa found herself standing at the entrance to the dining room kitchen confronted by both her parents, her sister, and her maternal grandmother. All of them turned to greet her and in unison expressions of shock overcame their faces, except her sister. Summer bit her lip and raised one of her eyebrows when she saw her brother standing there in a dress done up like a doll, it looked like she was trying not to laugh.

The next hour or two was a blur for Rissa. After the initial shock, her family each reacted in their own way. Her grandmother, who she had not expected to be there at all gave her a kiss on the cheek and left quickly, saying something about chores she had to do, though Rissa was sure that she just wanted out of the situation as badly as Rissa did. Her mother started crying and asking no one in particular where she had gone wrong, and her father started yelling at her.

Eventually they calmed down enough for her to tell them everything. Summer was the only one to remain the least bit calm during the entire situation, commenting that she had suspected that Rissa had worn some of her clothes before but never said anything. Her father, a heavy man with a mustache that reminded her of a real version of a certain Italian video game plumber managed to stay red as a tomato, but after his initial outburst said nothing. Her mother asked question after question trying to understand, tears in her eyes.

“So,” her mother said, “You’re gay?”

“No,” said Rissa. “I like guys, but I’m a girl. So, I’m straight. Well, maybe bi, I’m not sure. But, I’m definitely not gay.”

“I just don’t understand, Tom,” said her mother. “Are you confused about your gender?”

“No,” her father mumbled, “he isn’t confused about his gender. He’s just going through a phase. This is what happens when you let a kid spend hours a day on the internet, they meet crazy, mentally ill people and then try to be mentally ill themselves to fit in. Sick world we live in.”

“That’s not it!” Rissa exclaimed angrily. “I am not confused, and I am not going through a phase! This is who I am! This is always who I have been, and that isn’t going to change!”

“He always has been kind of a dandy,” Summer commented.

Their father roared, “Enough! It is bad enough that you are a faggot! In this house we follow the word of God which states that homosexuality is a sin! But, if you were just a regular queer, then I might be able to tolerate that! However, I will not tolerate any son of mine wearing a dress under my roof!”

“Good!” shouted Rissa. “I’m not your son! That’s what I’m trying to tell you! I’m not your son! I’m your daughter, and this is who I am!”

“Get out!” the patriarch shouted. He grabbed Rissa by her hair and dragged her to the door before slamming her face into it. “Get out you cock sucker! I won’t have you under my roof!”

Rissa felt blood rush to her head from being dragged by her hair along with tears rushing to her eyes. She stared at her father, scorn on his face, and she returned the scorn with her eyes. “Fine,” she whispered.

“John, wait,” begged her mother. “Don’t make him leave, we can talk this out…”

It was too late, Marissa had already left the house and ran as quickly as she could to Tammy’s. She had not been planning to show up to Tammy’s house in a dress and make up smeared by tears. No, she had hoped to be able to tell her friend the truth about herself in her own time. But, showing up at her door dressed as a girl would have to do.

Rissa held back tears as she knocked hurriedly on her friends door. She prayed that Tammy would be the one to answer, and not her mother or brother. The last thing she wanted to do right now is explain everything to even more people. After a few moments Tammy’s older brother Trey answered the door. He looked Rissa over from top to bottom before asking her, “Can I help you?”

He did not seem to recognize Rissa as Tom. This was the one convenient thing that had happened so far that day. Rissa mumbled under her breath, “Is Tammy here?”

“Hey, Tamara!” shouted Trey. “Some girl is here to see you!” He turned to Rissa and smiled, “Come on in girly, make yourself at home.” Rissa nodded and stepped inside and waited for Tammy.

“Tom?” came Tammy’s voice. Rissa looked up from staring awkwardly at the floor to see her friend looking at her completely confused. Tammy was dressed in pajamas and her hair was messier than usual. It was obvious she had just woken up. Rissa opened her mouth to reply, but instead of words, only a sob came. Tammy came over and gave her a huge hug and held her. “Oh my god, Tom, what is going on? Here, baby, come sit. Sit.”

The two went to Tammy’s room and sat on the edge of her bed for a bit as Rissa cried. Tammy sat there stroking her hair and not saying a word before Rissa finally gathered herself together enough to talk. She told Tammy everything. She told her about her gender identity, the pain it had caused her, her plans for the future, and about her telling her family and their reaction – everything relevant up until Trey had opened the door to her crying not an hour ago.

After Rissa had spilled everything, the two friends sat in silence for a few moments before Tammy finally spoke, “So, Rissa? That’s going to take some getting used to, I’m not going to lie. But, I’ll try. Just, you know, I’ve known you as Tom for like eight years.” Rissa sobbed. Tammy patted her on the back, “Don’t worry girl, you know I’m here for you. I’m still going to call you Rissa, like you said, just could take some getting used to is all I’m saying.”

Rissa nodded and said, “Thank you.”

“Hey! Of course! You’re my bestie! You don’t think that’s going to change just because you’re trans, do you?” Tammy forced a smile. “I kind of thought you might be honestly. I know you said you were gay, but you just didn’t come off as a guy. Not even as a gay guy, you know? So, don’t worry, I accept you, even if your family does not.”

“Thank you,” Rissa said again. She sobbed.

“Oh, come on. Don’t cry, honey! Don’t cry. They aren’t worth it,” Tammy grabbed Rissa’s face and forced her to look her in the eyes. “Listen to me. If they won’t accept you for who you are, they are not worth it, okay? I accept you, that’s what matters.”

“I know,” said Rissa. “And I love you so much for that… It’s just, what am I going to do? I can’t stay with you, and I have no where to go.”

Tammy sighed, “I don’t know. But, look, my mom’s staying at her boyfriend’s place for the last few days, and Trey is just doing whatever Trey does. So, you can stay here for a least a couple days and we’ll figure it out.” Rissa nodded. Tammy patted her hair, “Besides, now I get to play dress up with you. I’ve always wanted to play dress up with a white girl. Can’t wait to style your hair, love.”

“I would think you would hate hair styling with how much you complain about styling yours,” Rissa remarked jokingly.

“Girl, I have to style this mess every day,” said Tammy. “I am a pro at styling. If I can take this frizz and make it look fabulous, imagine what I can do with your hair! Now, go clean off your make up, it’s smeared from you crying. We’ll reapply it.”

“I didn’t bring any make up with me though, and I think your foundation is probably too dark for me,” said Rissa.

Tammy rolled her eyes, “No shit, Sherlock. We’re gonna go shopping. Every girl deserves a shopping trip, besides I was gonna bring you to the mall later to buy you something for your birthday anyway. At least now I won’t be bored doing it.”

The rest of the day went much better than the beginning of it had, and had it not been for the mess that was coming out to her parents, Rissa may have even considered the day her best birthday yet. She got to spend the rest of it dressed as herself, and she was close to happy. Yet, the events of earlier in the day kept biting at her, keeping her from truly relaxing and enjoying it. Still, even if her family had not accepted her, her best friend had. That was worth something at least.

The next day as Tammy and Rissa were getting ready to go out again there was a knock at the door. Rissa went with Tammy to answer it and found two police officers awaiting them. Tammy sighed and shouted inside the house, “Trey, what the hell did you do?!”

One of the officer’s gave her a weird look and said, “We are looking for a Tom Abrams. We received a call that a minor had gone missing and were tipped that he might be here.”

Rissa stepped up and said, “I’m Tom Abrams. I was kicked out though, so I don’t know why my parents are looking for me.”

The officer looked her over. “Your name is Tom? Okay then. Anyway, unless you have been legally emancipated, kicked out or not I have to bring you back to your parents. They are worried about you.”

“I doubt it,” Rissa muttered.

“Hey,” said Tammy. “Maybe they calmed down some. Just go ahead and go back, and if things get heated you can come stay here again tonight.” Rissa nodded and hugged her friend before going with the police.

Soon enough they pulled in front of her parents house where her mother was waiting for her on the lawn, her eyes drenched with tears and face scorned with worry. As soon as Rissa stepped out of the car, her mother ran up and wrapped her arms around her and squeezed her tight. Rissa did not return the hug.

“Oh, Tom,” said her mother. She then turned to the police, “Thank you so much for bringing him back!”

“Him?” the officer was still obviously confused. “Yeah, yeah, sure. Just don’t go kicking out your kid and then ask us to bring them back for you again. We have more important things to do than track down kids who went missing because their parents told them to get lost.” The cop turned and left with out saying another word.

Rissa’s mother looked at her, “Oh, Tom! Why are you still dressed like a girl? Your father is going to throw a fit!”
“Let him,” said Rissa.

“Look, he may have acted inappropriately, but he is still your father and you have to respect him!”

“Oh, like how he respected me, yesterday?”

“You know how your father is! He’s just trying his best. Now come inside and change into something else. We have something to discuss with you.”

Rissa wanted to ask what they would do if she did not change back into boy clothes. Are they going to kick me out again? Because that worked so well. Yet, she held her tongue. She had faced enough drama for the time being, and putting on a t shirt and jeans would not kill her. So, she hurried upstairs, took a quick shower to wash out her hair which had been done up by Tammy earlier in the day, and wash off her make up before drying off and throwing on a t shirt and jeans. She picked her pink t shirt that she knew her father hated in order to spite him. If she could not present as a girl, she would at least present in a color associated with girls.

Rissa walked down the stairs and went into the living room to find her mom and dad sitting on the couch. Her father grimaced at her when he saw the color of her shirt, but did not say a word. Her mother broke the silence, “So, Tom, your father and I were talking and we have come up with a solution that will benefit all of us.”

The only solution that will benefit me will be to allow me to live as myself and be the girl that I am, thought Rissa, though she did not say anything aloud.

Her mother continued, “We understand that you have homosexual feelings and gender confusion, and we really hurt knowing that you suffer from that. So, we want to have you treated for it.”

“Excuse me?” asked Rissa.

“There is a program that Pastor Montgomery recommended to us that is ran by the church for people like you. It’s called “Jesus Saves Youth Corrections Camp”.”

“You want me to go to a pray away the gay camp?!” asked Rissa, completely appalled.

“I told you that I won’t allow any faggot cock suckers under my roof,” her father mumbled.

Her mother glared at her father, “What your father means is that this camp could really help you to live a normal life. That’s all we want for you. To be happy.”

“If you cared about my happiness you would accept me as your transgender daughter and not force me to go to some place that will try to torture me into being who you want me to be!” Rissa said. “I’m not going.”

“Yes you are,” her father roared. “Your mother and I already made arrangements for you to go!”

“And, if I refuse?”

“Honey,” said her mother, “trust us. This is for your best.”

“I’m not going to go.”

“Then run away again, become some faggot whore and die of AIDS if that’s what you want,” said her father.

“John!” her mother shouted at her father, appalled. She turned back to Rissa, “Tom, listen. I know that right now this sounds like a lot, but trust us, we prayed about it, and we believe that God wants us to get you help. You have to go.”

Rissa stormed off and went upstairs, slamming her bedroom door. She heard her father screaming at her for slamming the door shut, but she ignored him and started packing a back pack. She would not go to a pray away the gay camp. She would not. Maybe her father was right, maybe she would have to become a prostitute to survive, even though she dreaded that possibility. Anything would be better to be stuck here being forced to be someone she was not.

Later that night she ran away through her window. She told Tammy what she was doing, but she refused to go stay at her house again. The police would just find her there and take her back. Instead she went off to the bus station and slept there while she figured out what to do. She had enough money for one cross country bus ride, but she had yet to figure out where to go. She had friends and allies on the internet that would help her, so she decided to contact them.

Before she had anything set up the police showed up at the bus station and arrested her. This time they brought her to their station for holding where her mother found her several hours later. The police agreed not to press charges if she would not run away again. It was no use. Rissa gave up. She had been defeated. Completely and utterly laid to waste by her parents, her church, and her local law enforcement.

The only choice she had, Rissa decided, was to go to this camp and pretend to be healed. Then she would go back to her original plan of waiting until she was eighteen before being able to move out and live as herself. She had faked it for this long, she could fake it two more years. Or at least, that is what she told herself.

A week later, after having her head shaved, and being beaten and bruised by her father for running away again, she arrived at this place. The Hell which she was now in, lying on the floor as a so called man of God stood over her mocking her as she cried. The last few days were worse than she could have ever imagined.

When Rissa first arrived they put her in a room with a gay boy her age named Immanuel. Immanuel was a nice enough person, though he probably was more flamboyant and feminine in his mannerisms than even she was. He was from a different church – a Catholic one, but his family had sent him here because it was the closest camp like this to them. At first he had as much resolve to not be broken by this place as Rissa had, but each day the light in his eyes faded, and Rissa knew that he, like her, was losing himself.

They would have to wake up early in the morning and go straight to a prayer group. Instead of praying for blessings or giving thanks, they were forced to pray to be cured of the “demons of homosexuality”. They were forced to say this out loud and could not pray silently, to ensure that they were saying what they were instructed to say. This was probably the most enjoyable “treatment” given at the center.

Besides that, Rissa was forced to watch gay porn and be shocked by electrodes hooked to her body as she watched it. While the shocks were painful, at first she was amused because they were treating her as a gay man, when she was not a gay man, she was a woman. She thought to herself that his sick treatment had to get off someone’s jollies, and that thought was humorous for a short time. But, now, several days later there was no humor to be found, even forced humor.

She had been dehumanized, her identity invalidated, physically and emotionally abused, and even denied meals. There was no hope left, Rissa decided. No hope at all. She only had four more days of this Hell, but she did not believe that she could make it that long. She had decided that she did not want to even if she could.

Before leaving she had to pack a bag that was searched thoroughly with boys clothes, hygiene products, and other necessities. In a hidden pocket she put a knife that she had been given by her father for her fifteenth birthday. It was a hunting knife that he had given her with the hopes it would get her interested in going hunting with him, and very capable of killing a person. She never used it for hunting, only to cut her wrist when the pain became too much. It would not take much to use this knife as an opt out if it came down to it.

Laying on the floor with Pastor Ducarr standing over her, she realized it was time to take up that option. She should have before even being forced to come here.

“Get up,” said Pastor Ducarr, sneering.

Rissa laid on the floor and ignored him. He could not hurt her anymore than he already had. The pastor, a tall and burly man, grabbed her arm and forced her up, “I told you to get up you prissy bitch.”

Rissa stood and stared at the pastor coldly. She felt no life nor light in her heart. She felt nothing but a deep chill that penetrated her being. When people said that someone was a “cold person” this was the epitome of what they meant.

“Finally, standing up, like the man you were created to be,” said Ducarr. “I’m sorry that I had to hit you, I didn’t mean to. It’s just that you left me with no choice. Now are you going to let me hook you up to this machine so that we can do your treatment or will I have to hit you again?”

“I thought Jesus said you should turn the other cheek,” said Rissa.

“Yes, he did,” said Ducarr. “Which is exactly the lesson I am trying to teach you. I know that you think that I’m hurting you, but I’m not. I’m hurting the demon that has control of you. It’s not me or your folks or God that is your enemy, its that demon. That demon inside of you which is making you all gender confused. We will cast it out so that you can live as a good man of God!”

Rissa scowled. This so called demon that they kept talking about here did not exist. The only demon here was Ducarr, and he was worse than any Devil in the Bible. Rissa thought back to when she tried to learn black magic to grant her goals. She had once tried to offer her soul to any demon that would take it in exchange for a working vagina. None had taken her offer, but she was being punished for it anyway.

If only demons were real, she thought, and I had one. I would turn it to kill you.

She reluctantly sat and allowed her treatment to continue. Ducarr would not let her leave until it was over with, and she could not take the knife and end this horrible existence until she was able to leave.

“That’s a good boy,” said Ducarr. “God rewards those who are obedient. I think that we are loosening the grip that the Devil has on you.”

The only Devil here is you.

An hour later Rissa wandered back into her room, bruised and burnt from electric shocks. She did not care anymore. The physical pain inflicted on her body was nothing compared to the sea of emotional turmoil which had consumed her very existence. It would all be over soon, she thought. She would just have to take extreme physical pain one last time, and it would all be done with for eternity.

Immanuel had yet to return to the room. That meant now was probably her best shot at ending it, before he could come back and interfere. She grabbed her back pack and reached deep inside of it, to the hidden pocket that they had not found, and soon her hand found the hilt of the knife that she would use to end this farce called her life.

She drew the knife out and stared at it. It gave her a strange sensation, this instrument of her demise. It was the tool of her death, and of her liberation.

Rissa had always believed that anyone who committed suicide was doomed to an eternity in Hell. But, she was also raised to believe that she was doomed to an eternity in Hell just for being who she was. It was not her choice to be a transgender woman anymore than it was her choice to be here right now. Ending it all, that was her choice. The one choice she felt she had.

She gripped the knife and sobbed. She did not want to die, but she did not want to live either. How could it come to this? Everything she had worked for, everything she believed in, it was nothing. None of it meant anything now. She would die, another statistic. Another transgender teenager whose life was ended by suicide because of how evil the world had been to her.

Rissa knew that she did not have much time. If she was serious, which she was, she had to act now or risk her roommate coming back and stopping her. She took the knife and braced it to the side of the wall. All she would have to do is drive her head into it once and it would be over and done with. She was terrified, but she told herself it would be quick.

She stopped for a moment and sobbed, “This shouldn’t be me. I shouldn’t have to die. Ducarr should die. My parents should die. I shouldn’t have to die because of their sins. I shouldn’t have to…” She thought back to Tammy, to Summer, to her best mate George, all of them would be devastated. Still, she did not see what other choice she had in the matter. This was her best option.

Rissa felt queasy as she looked at the knife. “If there is any god or being out there that will help me, please help me. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to die. I don’t deserve to die. Please don’t make me die. Please don’t. Please.” She was crying, tears streaming down her face. She did not know who she was pleading with nor why. She had made her choice. “I have to die because of transphobic pieces of shit. I’m sorry.”

Rissa had one flare of bravery and took her last breath and cursed the world and everyone in it before hurling herself headlong into the knife.

All went black.

Then she woke up.

Immanuel was standing over her looking worried, “Yo, Tom. Hey, Tom, wake up!”

The world spun around as Rissa realized she was still in that god forsaken room. She was surprised to find that she was in her bed, with no pain in her head or neck where she remembered the knife entering. She felt herself, yet there was no blood. Was I just dreaming?

“Tom! Get a hold of yourself!” Immanuel looked frantic. “Something happened, we need to go.”

“What?” Rissa was completely lost. “What happened?”

“Pastor Ducarr, he’s,” Immanuel gulped, “someone killed him.”

The news was shocking to Rissa, but she shook it off. She must have been asleep this entire time. Her suicide must have been a nightmare. It had to have been.

She stood up, still feeling around her head and neck for a wound, “What do you mean someone killed him?”

“I don’t know,” said Immanuel. “The police are here. They are questioning everyone. Come on, we need to go talk to them.”

Rissa slipped on her shoes and followed Immanuel out through the hallway of the clinic to the main room where all the other queer youth that were being tortured by the camp, as well as a number of camp employees were waiting. Sure enough the room was filled with police, going about questioning people and scourging the area for evidence. Ducarr is dead? Who killed him?

It was not that Rissa was surprised, nor sympathetic at Ducarr’s death. He deserved to die, and every single person at this camp would gladly have done it if they had the chance. Nevertheless, Rissa had no idea who actually would have gone through with it.

She tried to get closer to where the police were standing to see what happened. She was not allowed to be close, but she managed to catch a glimpse of Ducarr’s body laying on the floor next to the wall, and her heart dropped.

On the wall was blood smeared out to say, “TRANSPHOBIC SHITS MUST DIE FOR THEIR SINS” and below it was Ducarr’s lifeless and blood covered body.

Out of the side of his head stuck the handle of Rissa’s hunting knife.

Queer Demons: A Short Story by Julie Langston

Content Warnings:  This is a short story I wrote that deals with transphobia and other disturbing issues.  This story contains graphic violence as well as transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, physical and mental abuse of minors, religious themes including religious indoctrination and abuse, self harm, and suicidal themes.  This story is intended for an adult audience.

“You are going to die and go to Hell! Do you want to die and go to Hell because of your gender confusion and sodomy?” Pastor Ducarr stood over Rissa as she sobbed, curled in a ball, her knees held up to her chin tightly by her arms. She did not want to live anymore. There could be no place worse than this. The pastor frowned when she did not respond with naught but a muffled sob, so he kicked her hard in the side and repeated, “I asked you if you wanted to go to Hell, boy? Because that is where you are headed if you keep up crying like some sissy girl. I know you like to think you are a girl, but you are not a girl. You have a penis, so you are a man! So man up, or die and burn in Hell!”

“I don’t care…” Rissa whispered. It took all of her strength just to give that simple response with out screaming and crying. “If going to Hell would mean I would never have to put up with you and people like you again, then I don’t care!”
“What did you just say to me?!” Ducarr kicked her again, this time harder than before and Rissa sprawled out of her ball. She did not bother going back into it, she just laid there, flat on her back staring towards the ceiling, but at nothing at all.

Ducarr spat on her and laughed. “Finally going to stop trying to hide? Prissy little bitch. You’re lucky to be born a man. As a man, God says that your place is to follow him and lead women. Not to sit there on the floor crying. I wish you were a girl too. If you were I would teach you what it means to be a woman. But, you aren’t a girl. You are a man with a cock. And, I expect you to get up and stop acting like a bitch.”

Rissa did not budge an inch. She hated him. She hated Ducarr. She hated the Church and Pastor Montgomery. More than anything, though, she hated her parents for forcing her to come here.

Her memory flashed back to two weeks prior.

It was her sixteenth birthday, and she had spent the morning in tears. For the last sixteen years Marissa Abrams, a girl, had been forced to live as a boy. Her oppressors did not know what they were doing. To them, she was a boy, and they had no reason to think otherwise. On her birth certificate it said male, and in all the anatomy books her genitals were also listed as male. This did not however change the fact that she had known that she was a girl for at least thirteen of those sixteen years. She may have even felt this way longer than that, but she had no memories prior to three years old, and even those were faded and few.

Still, every day that she could remember she had felt that she was a girl. She remembered even at four or five saying as much, but just being laughed at and told that she was a boy. After a while she started to believe that she was a boy. But, no matter how many times she told herself that she was, she could not believe it. Something inside of her shouted female, and that shout could not be silenced by the billion other shouts telling her otherwise.

When Rissa had reached puberty the shouts from both sides grew infinitely more intense, and she fell into a deep depression as other girl’s started to develop in womanly ways while she grew more and more masculine. As other girl’s started to grow breasts, she started growing hair on her upper lip and fuzz on her chin, and she realized that her body was a traitor to her.

Since then she had been in a constant depression. She begged with her body not to do what it was doing. She tried to starve herself, punish herself, cut herself in order to take away the pain. Nothing worked. She then started to beg God to cure her. At first she begged Him to make her into a girl. She prayed that she would fall asleep and the next morning she would wake up with a vagina and learn that all of this was just a horrible dream. When that failed, she begged for God to make her happy being a guy. She even started working out and hanging out more with her guy friends than her girl friends to play the role, but this did not work either.

Eventually she even turned to witchcraft. Her family was deeply religious and always taught her that the occult and magic was evil and forbidden, so at first the idea scared her. But, as time went on and her pain grew deeper and deeper she decided it was worth a try. If God would ignore her pleas, perhaps the Devil would not.

She had first looked to Wicca. Several of her friends were witches and practiced the religion. This held her interest for close to a year before she grew weary of it. She learned quickly that her conservative Christian view of Wicca, and paganism in general, was wrong. She also learned that magic did not work, or at least if it did, the results were no more observable than the results of prayer. She enjoyed the nature worshiping aspects of her practice, but it was not what she was looking for.

Thus, she turned to Satanism, to black magic in order to try and achieve her goals. Here too she was disappointed. Satanism was nothing like portrayed in Christianity with midnight dances with demons and secret knowledge of the occult. Most of the Satanists she knew were simply atheists who admired the figure of Satan. There was magic, but even her fellow practitioners admitted it was purely ritualistic, so she dropped that idea more quickly than she had even dropped the idea of Wiccan magic.

When magic had failed Rissa focused back on living her life. She learned on the internet that there were people like her; they were called transgender people. People who were assigned one sex, but whose gender did not match that sex mentally, emotionally, socially, nor in any other way other than raw parts and labels. She also learned that these people could eventually be happy and live as themselves, even taking hormone supplements and other treatments to make their body more suitable to their mentality.

If she could only make it until she was eighteen and out of the house, she could finally be herself. That became Rissa’s new plan. To just survive until she could make it on her own, and then she could transition and live as the woman she always knew that she was.

She quickly realized that surviving until that point would be a task much more challenging than she had first imagined. Every day seemed like an eternity, and while she at first had hoped that time would go quickly, when it did not she found herself hoping again for death. Perhaps eighteen years old was four years… three years… two years away, but it seemed no closer and the effects testosterone were having on her body were not slowing. Rissa realized that she could not wait any longer to be herself.

So, she set herself a new goal with resolve. On her sixteenth birthday, Rissa would come out to her family as herself and tell them that she was a transgender girl. Perhaps they would be understanding. The prospect was terrifying, but the possibility of acceptance and being able to start living as herself and maybe even go on testosterone blockers gave her hope. Her family was always a bit conservative, but they loved her – or at least they loved “him”, so there was hope.

Two weeks prior to Rissa laying on the floor of a “Pray Away the Gay Camp” crying and bloodied from being abused and beaten by a monster disguised as a man named Pastor Ducarr, that day, Marissa Abrams sixteenth birthday had come.

She remembered the anticipation that morning as she woke up and went to her closet to prepare herself for what she was about to do. At first Rissa’s plan had been to write her family a letter detailing how she felt and about her identity, but as she sat down to write, the words did not come. So, she then resolved herself to tell them, but she knew that if she were to try and have a sit down like that she would lose her resolve and change the subject as she had when she tried to tell her best friend, Tammy, about this. About her. That she was a she and not a “him”. If she could not tell Tammy, who had been one of her two best friends since elementary school, the girl who knew that Rissa was “gay” and had made out with a boy in the eighth grade, there was no way she could tell that to her family who saw her as their heterosexual son.

With writing how she felt and saying how she felt out as options, Rissa decided that her best choice would be to “show” how she felt. She had girl’s clothes and make up that she bought over the last few years – a garment here, a powder there – that she wore when her parents were out of town. Today she would wear them in front of others for the first time. Once she appeared down the stairs in a dress and make up, there would be no turning back. Any spur of the moment lie she could make up to excuse why she was dressed like that would be worse than the truth. Thus, with this knowledge, she set herself to her decision.

She picked a cute black and white striped dress that she had picked up from a bargain from a thrift shop she had to volunteer at for her tenth grade leadership class. It was high cut on top, hiding her shoulders which were too wide for her liking, but still had short sleeves making it appropriate for the summer. The skirt came down to just above her knees, enough to show her freshly shaven legs, but still long enough to likely be considered appropriate; at least appropriate for any ordinary girl her age to wear – how appropriate her family would find it on her would yet to be decided.

The dress was neutral against her light freckled skin and medium length brown hair which she usually styled in a way to make her face look boyish. Today she would brush it out and part it in such a way to bring out the femininity in her oval face. She picked make up to match, or rather she picked the only make up she had, which fortunately did match her complexion well with this dress. She had an ivory foundation and natural powder which were just a tone darker than her skin. She outlined her green eyes with shades of brown and black eyeliner before finally layering on as much mascara as she possibly could in order to make her fairly short eyelashes noticeable. Last she smacked on a light red lipstick and covered it with a pink gloss to blend the colors to make her lips look almost natural colored, but still shimmer in the light.

When all was done she looked at herself in the mirror, and she was beautiful by anyone’s standards. She had only done this a few times a year the last few years, as that was all that was afforded to her, yet, never before had she matched how she looked now. Right now she radiated femininity and beauty. She would have been happy to look this cute if she had been born female, considering her circumstances, her reflection astounded her.

Rissa’s thoughts and feelings of self admiration quickly dissipated as she remembered the reason why she was all done up. In a few moments she would be confronting her parents and sister for the first time as a girl. She knew her sister suspected that she was a gay guy, and in fact would not have been surprised if her parents thought the same, but she knew none of them would ever see this coming. She swallowed air hard and waited to be called down the stairs.

After what seemed like hours, but was likely just a few minutes there was a light knock on her door, and her mother’s voice called out, “Tom, wake up! It’s time for breakfast!”

Rissa cringed. She hated that name, Tom. Tom Abrams was the name given to her at birth, and what she had been called for the last sixteen years, but it was not her name. Her name was Marissa, or Rissa – which is what her friends on the internet called her as a pet name. Maybe, just maybe after this she would never have to be called ‘Tom’ again.

Her heart beat a million beats per minute from inside her stomach as she stood up and patted out her dress, trying to remove specks of powder foundation that had fallen onto it while she was applying her make up. She wanted to faint, but somehow she did not. She managed to take one step towards the door, then another, then another, and then finally opened it. The hallway was empty, and she turned and went to the stair case. Each step down the stairs her heart beat grew heavier and she almost turned and ran away, but she forced herself to keep going.

Then, suddenly, Rissa found herself standing at the entrance to the dining room kitchen confronted by both her parents, her sister, and her maternal grandmother. All of them turned to greet her and in unison expressions of shock overcame their faces, except her sister. Summer bit her lip and raised one of her eyebrows when she saw her brother standing there in a dress done up like a doll, it looked like she was trying not to laugh.

The next hour or two was a blur for Rissa. After the initial shock, her family each reacted in their own way. Her grandmother, who she had not expected to be there at all gave her a kiss on the cheek and left quickly, saying something about chores she had to do, though Rissa was sure that she just wanted out of the situation as badly as Rissa did. Her mother started crying and asking no one in particular where she had gone wrong, and her father started yelling at her.

Eventually they calmed down enough for her to tell them everything. Summer was the only one to remain the least bit calm during the entire situation, commenting that she had suspected that Rissa had worn some of her clothes before but never said anything. Her father, a heavy man with a mustache that reminded her of a real version of a certain Italian video game plumber managed to stay red as a tomato, but after his initial outburst said nothing. Her mother asked question after question trying to understand, tears in her eyes.

“So,” her mother said, “You’re gay?”

“No,” said Rissa. “I like guys, but I’m a girl. So, I’m straight. Well, maybe bi, I’m not sure. But, I’m definitely not gay.”

“I just don’t understand, Tom,” said her mother. “Are you confused about your gender?”

“No,” her father mumbled, “he isn’t confused about his gender. He’s just going through a phase. This is what happens when you let a kid spend hours a day on the internet, they meet crazy, mentally ill people and then try to be mentally ill themselves to fit in. Sick world we live in.”

“That’s not it!” Rissa exclaimed angrily. “I am not confused, and I am not going through a phase! This is who I am! This is always who I have been, and that isn’t going to change!”

“He always has been kind of a dandy,” Summer commented.

Their father roared, “Enough! It is bad enough that you are a faggot! In this house we follow the word of God which states that homosexuality is a sin! But, if you were just a regular queer, then I might be able to tolerate that! However, I will not tolerate any son of mine wearing a dress under my roof!”

“Good!” shouted Rissa. “I’m not your son! That’s what I’m trying to tell you! I’m not your son! I’m your daughter, and this is who I am!”

“Get out!” the patriarch shouted. He grabbed Rissa by her hair and dragged her to the door before slamming her face into it. “Get out you cock sucker! I won’t have you under my roof!”

Rissa felt blood rush to her head from being dragged by her hair along with tears rushing to her eyes. She stared at her father, scorn on his face, and she returned the scorn with her eyes. “Fine,” she whispered.

“John, wait,” begged her mother. “Don’t make him leave, we can talk this out…”

It was too late, Marissa had already left the house and ran as quickly as she could to Tammy’s. She had not been planning to show up to Tammy’s house in a dress and make up smeared by tears. No, she had hoped to be able to tell her friend the truth about herself in her own time. But, showing up at her door dressed as a girl would have to do.

Rissa held back tears as she knocked hurriedly on her friends door. She prayed that Tammy would be the one to answer, and not her mother or brother. The last thing she wanted to do right now is explain everything to even more people. After a few moments Tammy’s older brother Trey answered the door. He looked Rissa over from top to bottom before asking her, “Can I help you?”

He did not seem to recognize Rissa as Tom. This was the one convenient thing that had happened so far that day. Rissa mumbled under her breath, “Is Tammy here?”

“Hey, Tamara!” shouted Trey. “Some girl is here to see you!” He turned to Rissa and smiled, “Come on in girly, make yourself at home.” Rissa nodded and stepped inside and waited for Tammy.

“Tom?” came Tammy’s voice. Rissa looked up from staring awkwardly at the floor to see her friend looking at her completely confused. Tammy was dressed in pajamas and her hair was messier than usual. It was obvious she had just woken up. Rissa opened her mouth to reply, but instead of words, only a sob came. Tammy came over and gave her a huge hug and held her. “Oh my god, Tom, what is going on? Here, baby, come sit. Sit.”

The two went to Tammy’s room and sat on the edge of her bed for a bit as Rissa cried. Tammy sat there stroking her hair and not saying a word before Rissa finally gathered herself together enough to talk. She told Tammy everything. She told her about her gender identity, the pain it had caused her, her plans for the future, and about her telling her family and their reaction – everything relevant up until Trey had opened the door to her crying not an hour ago.

After Rissa had spilled everything, the two friends sat in silence for a few moments before Tammy finally spoke, “So, Rissa? That’s going to take some getting used to, I’m not going to lie. But, I’ll try. Just, you know, I’ve known you as Tom for like eight years.” Rissa sobbed. Tammy patted her on the back, “Don’t worry girl, you know I’m here for you. I’m still going to call you Rissa, like you said, just could take some getting used to is all I’m saying.”

Rissa nodded and said, “Thank you.”

“Hey! Of course! You’re my bestie! You don’t think that’s going to change just because you’re trans, do you?” Tammy forced a smile. “I kind of thought you might be honestly. I know you said you were gay, but you just didn’t come off as a guy. Not even as a gay guy, you know? So, don’t worry, I accept you, even if your family does not.”

“Thank you,” Rissa said again. She sobbed.

“Oh, come on. Don’t cry, honey! Don’t cry. They aren’t worth it,” Tammy grabbed Rissa’s face and forced her to look her in the eyes. “Listen to me. If they won’t accept you for who you are, they are not worth it, okay? I accept you, that’s what matters.”

“I know,” said Rissa. “And I love you so much for that… It’s just, what am I going to do? I can’t stay with you, and I have no where to go.”

Tammy sighed, “I don’t know. But, look, my mom’s staying at her boyfriend’s place for the last few days, and Trey is just doing whatever Trey does. So, you can stay here for a least a couple days and we’ll figure it out.” Rissa nodded. Tammy patted her hair, “Besides, now I get to play dress up with you. I’ve always wanted to play dress up with a white girl. Can’t wait to style your hair, love.”

“I would think you would hate hair styling with how much you complain about styling yours,” Rissa remarked jokingly.

“Girl, I have to style this mess every day,” said Tammy. “I am a pro at styling. If I can take this frizz and make it look fabulous, imagine what I can do with your hair! Now, go clean off your make up, it’s smeared from you crying. We’ll reapply it.”

“I didn’t bring any make up with me though, and I think your foundation is probably too dark for me,” said Rissa.

Tammy rolled her eyes, “No shit, Sherlock. We’re gonna go shopping. Every girl deserves a shopping trip, besides I was gonna bring you to the mall later to buy you something for your birthday anyway. At least now I won’t be bored doing it.”

The rest of the day went much better than the beginning of it had, and had it not been for the mess that was coming out to her parents, Rissa may have even considered the day her best birthday yet. She got to spend the rest of it dressed as herself, and she was close to happy. Yet, the events of earlier in the day kept biting at her, keeping her from truly relaxing and enjoying it. Still, even if her family had not accepted her, her best friend had. That was worth something at least.

The next day as Tammy and Rissa were getting ready to go out again there was a knock at the door. Rissa went with Tammy to answer it and found two police officers awaiting them. Tammy sighed and shouted inside the house, “Trey, what the hell did you do?!”

One of the officer’s gave her a weird look and said, “We are looking for a Tom Abrams. We received a call that a minor had gone missing and were tipped that he might be here.”

Rissa stepped up and said, “I’m Tom Abrams. I was kicked out though, so I don’t know why my parents are looking for me.”

The officer looked her over. “Your name is Tom? Okay then. Anyway, unless you have been legally emancipated, kicked out or not I have to bring you back to your parents. They are worried about you.”

“I doubt it,” Rissa muttered.

“Hey,” said Tammy. “Maybe they calmed down some. Just go ahead and go back, and if things get heated you can come stay here again tonight.” Rissa nodded and hugged her friend before going with the police.

Soon enough they pulled in front of her parents house where her mother was waiting for her on the lawn, her eyes drenched with tears and face scorned with worry. As soon as Rissa stepped out of the car, her mother ran up and wrapped her arms around her and squeezed her tight. Rissa did not return the hug.

“Oh, Tom,” said her mother. She then turned to the police, “Thank you so much for bringing him back!”

“Him?” the officer was still obviously confused. “Yeah, yeah, sure. Just don’t go kicking out your kid and then ask us to bring them back for you again. We have more important things to do than track down kids who went missing because their parents told them to get lost.” The cop turned and left with out saying another word.

Rissa’s mother looked at her, “Oh, Tom! Why are you still dressed like a girl? Your father is going to throw a fit!”
“Let him,” said Rissa.

“Look, he may have acted inappropriately, but he is still your father and you have to respect him!”

“Oh, like how he respected me, yesterday?”

“You know how your father is! He’s just trying his best. Now come inside and change into something else. We have something to discuss with you.”

Rissa wanted to ask what they would do if she did not change back into boy clothes. Are they going to kick me out again? Because that worked so well. Yet, she held her tongue. She had faced enough drama for the time being, and putting on a t shirt and jeans would not kill her. So, she hurried upstairs, took a quick shower to wash out her hair which had been done up by Tammy earlier in the day, and wash off her make up before drying off and throwing on a t shirt and jeans. She picked her pink t shirt that she knew her father hated in order to spite him. If she could not present as a girl, she would at least present in a color associated with girls.

Rissa walked down the stairs and went into the living room to find her mom and dad sitting on the couch. Her father grimaced at her when he saw the color of her shirt, but did not say a word. Her mother broke the silence, “So, Tom, your father and I were talking and we have come up with a solution that will benefit all of us.”

The only solution that will benefit me will be to allow me to live as myself and be the girl that I am, thought Rissa, though she did not say anything aloud.

Her mother continued, “We understand that you have homosexual feelings and gender confusion, and we really hurt knowing that you suffer from that. So, we want to have you treated for it.”

“Excuse me?” asked Rissa.

“There is a program that Pastor Montgomery recommended to us that is ran by the church for people like you. It’s called “Jesus Saves Youth Corrections Camp”.”

“You want me to go to a pray away the gay camp?!” asked Rissa, completely appalled.

“I told you that I won’t allow any faggot cock suckers under my roof,” her father mumbled.

Her mother glared at her father, “What your father means is that this camp could really help you to live a normal life. That’s all we want for you. To be happy.”

“If you cared about my happiness you would accept me as your transgender daughter and not force me to go to some place that will try to torture me into being who you want me to be!” Rissa said. “I’m not going.”

“Yes you are,” her father roared. “Your mother and I already made arrangements for you to go!”

“And, if I refuse?”

“Honey,” said her mother, “trust us. This is for your best.”

“I’m not going to go.”

“Then run away again, become some faggot whore and die of AIDS if that’s what you want,” said her father.

“John!” her mother shouted at her father, appalled. She turned back to Rissa, “Tom, listen. I know that right now this sounds like a lot, but trust us, we prayed about it, and we believe that God wants us to get you help. You have to go.”

Rissa stormed off and went upstairs, slamming her bedroom door. She heard her father screaming at her for slamming the door shut, but she ignored him and started packing a back pack. She would not go to a pray away the gay camp. She would not. Maybe her father was right, maybe she would have to become a prostitute to survive, even though she dreaded that possibility. Anything would be better to be stuck here being forced to be someone she was not.

Later that night she ran away through her window. She told Tammy what she was doing, but she refused to go stay at her house again. The police would just find her there and take her back. Instead she went off to the bus station and slept there while she figured out what to do. She had enough money for one cross country bus ride, but she had yet to figure out where to go. She had friends and allies on the internet that would help her, so she decided to contact them.

Before she had anything set up the police showed up at the bus station and arrested her. This time they brought her to their station for holding where her mother found her several hours later. The police agreed not to press charges if she would not run away again. It was no use. Rissa gave up. She had been defeated. Completely and utterly laid to waste by her parents, her church, and her local law enforcement.

The only choice she had, Rissa decided, was to go to this camp and pretend to be healed. Then she would go back to her original plan of waiting until she was eighteen before being able to move out and live as herself. She had faked it for this long, she could fake it two more years. Or at least, that is what she told herself.

A week later, after having her head shaved, and being beaten and bruised by her father for running away again, she arrived at this place. The Hell which she was now in, lying on the floor as a so called man of God stood over her mocking her as she cried. The last few days were worse than she could have ever imagined.

When Rissa first arrived they put her in a room with a gay boy her age named Immanuel. Immanuel was a nice enough person, though he probably was more flamboyant and feminine in his mannerisms than even she was. He was from a different church – a Catholic one, but his family had sent him here because it was the closest camp like this to them. At first he had as much resolve to not be broken by this place as Rissa had, but each day the light in his eyes faded, and Rissa knew that he, like her, was losing himself.

They would have to wake up early in the morning and go straight to a prayer group. Instead of praying for blessings or giving thanks, they were forced to pray to be cured of the “demons of homosexuality”. They were forced to say this out loud and could not pray silently, to ensure that they were saying what they were instructed to say. This was probably the most enjoyable “treatment” given at the center.

Besides that, Rissa was forced to watch gay porn and be shocked by electrodes hooked to her body as she watched it. While the shocks were painful, at first she was amused because they were treating her as a gay man, when she was not a gay man, she was a woman. She thought to herself that his sick treatment had to get off someone’s jollies, and that thought was humorous for a short time. But, now, several days later there was no humor to be found, even forced humor.

She had been dehumanized, her identity invalidated, physically and emotionally abused, and even denied meals. There was no hope left, Rissa decided. No hope at all. She only had four more days of this Hell, but she did not believe that she could make it that long. She had decided that she did not want to even if she could.

Before leaving she had to pack a bag that was searched thoroughly with boys clothes, hygiene products, and other necessities. In a hidden pocket she put a knife that she had been given by her father for her fifteenth birthday. It was a hunting knife that he had given her with the hopes it would get her interested in going hunting with him, and very capable of killing a person. She never used it for hunting, only to cut her wrist when the pain became too much. It would not take much to use this knife as an opt out if it came down to it.

Laying on the floor with Pastor Ducarr standing over her, she realized it was time to take up that option. She should have before even being forced to come here.

“Get up,” said Pastor Ducarr, sneering.

Rissa laid on the floor and ignored him. He could not hurt her anymore than he already had. The pastor, a tall and burly man, grabbed her arm and forced her up, “I told you to get up you prissy bitch.”

Rissa stood and stared at the pastor coldly. She felt no life nor light in her heart. She felt nothing but a deep chill that penetrated her being. When people said that someone was a “cold person” this was the epitome of what they meant.

“Finally, standing up, like the man you were created to be,” said Ducarr. “I’m sorry that I had to hit you, I didn’t mean to. It’s just that you left me with no choice. Now are you going to let me hook you up to this machine so that we can do your treatment or will I have to hit you again?”

“I thought Jesus said you should turn the other cheek,” said Rissa.

“Yes, he did,” said Ducarr. “Which is exactly the lesson I am trying to teach you. I know that you think that I’m hurting you, but I’m not. I’m hurting the demon that has control of you. It’s not me or your folks or God that is your enemy, its that demon. That demon inside of you which is making you all gender confused. We will cast it out so that you can live as a good man of God!”

Rissa scowled. This so called demon that they kept talking about here did not exist. The only demon here was Ducarr, and he was worse than any Devil in the Bible. Rissa thought back to when she tried to learn black magic to grant her goals. She had once tried to offer her soul to any demon that would take it in exchange for a working vagina. None had taken her offer, but she was being punished for it anyway.

If only demons were real, she thought, and I had one. I would turn it to kill you.

She reluctantly sat and allowed her treatment to continue. Ducarr would not let her leave until it was over with, and she could not take the knife and end this horrible existence until she was able to leave.

“That’s a good boy,” said Ducarr. “God rewards those who are obedient. I think that we are loosening the grip that the Devil has on you.”

The only Devil here is you.

An hour later Rissa wandered back into her room, bruised and burnt from electric shocks. She did not care anymore. The physical pain inflicted on her body was nothing compared to the sea of emotional turmoil which had consumed her very existence. It would all be over soon, she thought. She would just have to take extreme physical pain one last time, and it would all be done with for eternity.

Immanuel had yet to return to the room. That meant now was probably her best shot at ending it, before he could come back and interfere. She grabbed her back pack and reached deep inside of it, to the hidden pocket that they had not found, and soon her hand found the hilt of the knife that she would use to end this farce called her life.

She drew the knife out and stared at it. It gave her a strange sensation, this instrument of her demise. It was the tool of her death, and of her liberation.

Rissa had always believed that anyone who committed suicide was doomed to an eternity in Hell. But, she was also raised to believe that she was doomed to an eternity in Hell just for being who she was. It was not her choice to be a transgender woman anymore than it was her choice to be here right now. Ending it all, that was her choice. The one choice she felt she had.

She gripped the knife and sobbed. She did not want to die, but she did not want to live either. How could it come to this? Everything she had worked for, everything she believed in, it was nothing. None of it meant anything now. She would die, another statistic. Another transgender teenager whose life was ended by suicide because of how evil the world had been to her.

Rissa knew that she did not have much time. If she was serious, which she was, she had to act now or risk her roommate coming back and stopping her. She took the knife and braced it to the side of the wall. All she would have to do is drive her head into it once and it would be over and done with. She was terrified, but she told herself it would be quick.

She stopped for a moment and sobbed, “This shouldn’t be me. I shouldn’t have to die. Ducarr should die. My parents should die. I shouldn’t have to die because of their sins. I shouldn’t have to…” She thought back to Tammy, to Summer, to her best mate George, all of them would be devastated. Still, she did not see what other choice she had in the matter. This was her best option.

Rissa felt queasy as she looked at the knife. “If there is any god or being out there that will help me, please help me. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to die. I don’t deserve to die. Please don’t make me die. Please don’t. Please.” She was crying, tears streaming down her face. She did not know who she was pleading with nor why. She had made her choice. “I have to die because of transphobic pieces of shit. I’m sorry.”

Rissa had one flare of bravery and took her last breath and cursed the world and everyone in it before hurling herself headlong into the knife.

All went black.

Then she woke up.

Immanuel was standing over her looking worried, “Yo, Tom. Hey, Tom, wake up!”

The world spun around as Rissa realized she was still in that god forsaken room. She was surprised to find that she was in her bed, with no pain in her head or neck where she remembered the knife entering. She felt herself, yet there was no blood. Was I just dreaming?

“Tom! Get a hold of yourself!” Immanuel looked frantic. “Something happened, we need to go.”

“What?” Rissa was completely lost. “What happened?”

“Pastor Ducarr, he’s,” Immanuel gulped, “someone killed him.”

The news was shocking to Rissa, but she shook it off. She must have been asleep this entire time. Her suicide must have been a nightmare. It had to have been.

She stood up, still feeling around her head and neck for a wound, “What do you mean someone killed him?”

“I don’t know,” said Immanuel. “The police are here. They are questioning everyone. Come on, we need to go talk to them.”

Rissa slipped on her shoes and followed Immanuel out through the hallway of the clinic to the main room where all the other queer youth that were being tortured by the camp, as well as a number of camp employees were waiting. Sure enough the room was filled with police, going about questioning people and scourging the area for evidence. Ducarr is dead? Who killed him?

It was not that Rissa was surprised, nor sympathetic at Ducarr’s death. He deserved to die, and every single person at this camp would gladly have done it if they had the chance. Nevertheless, Rissa had no idea who actually would have gone through with it.

She tried to get closer to where the police were standing to see what happened. She was not allowed to be close, but she managed to catch a glimpse of Ducarr’s body laying on the floor next to the wall, and her heart dropped.

On the wall was blood smeared out to say, “TRANSPHOBIC SHITS MUST DIE FOR THEIR SINS” and below it was Ducarr’s lifeless and blood covered body.

Out of the side of his head stuck the handle of Rissa’s hunting knife.

The Truth About Transgender People

My name is Julie Langston.
I am twenty seven year old woman who is doing the best that she can at life. I live with my fiance who has been together with me for about 2 and a half years now. We moved in together a little faster than we probably should have – after being together for only six months, which I suppose is a bit cliché for a lesbian couple, but it happens. I’m glad to say it worked out and we are very happy together, and I would not trade my fiance for anything.

We rent a one bedroom apartment in Denver. Not quite in the down town area that most people think of as Denver, but still in the actual city rather than the suburbs. Just last month we renewed our lease for another year, and it was the first time in my adult life that I was financially able to renew the lease. It’s a nice area with a lot of families, and I really do hope that one day my fiance and I will be able to start a family of our own.

We have two pets – a cat with blue eyes and a color point fur pattern which I have had for over 3 years now, and a baby albino rabbit which we adopted from a friend about a month ago. They are my babies, and I love them to death, always trying to play with them, pet them, and feed them treats. They keep me company most of the time as I work from home as an accounting assistant, but I am hoping with hard work and by doing a good job I can be promoted to full time junior accountant and get a position in the office itself.

My typical day consists of making coffee and taking care of the pets food, if they need anything from the night before. Then logging into work for a while to get a few days of reports reconciled and posted. After this is usually when I take my shower, do my make up, and get officially dressed for the day. I really do like make up. For a while I would not ever leave the house with out it, but now half the time if I’m not doing anything I’ll ignore it. It has become a bit of a hobby for me now along with writing and playing the massively multiplayer online role playing game, Final Fantasy XIV in which I main a black mage, and my fiance mains a summoner – both casting classes with different focuses and strengths.

About 5 days out of the week my fiance or I will cook dinner. We both enjoy cooking, so it’s rarely an argument of who has to cook rather than who gets to. On days where neither of us feel like cooking, and we have the money to, we will go out for food. Usually fast food, but we prefer pho when possible. Pho is the best.

I’m fortunate to say that overall my health is good. I do suffer from a medical condition which I have to take daily pills and a weekly injection to treat, but overall I am well, and if I was a religious woman, which I’m not, I would say I am blessed.

We have friends, though we don’t hang out that often anymore due to adult life and schedules. Most of my social activity is online or over the phone, and one could say I’m a bit of a hermit. But, I do love to hang out with friends on those rare occasions where the stars line up and we all have the time to meet in person.

While I don’t believe in god, I do have a very strong sense of right and wrong. My morals are based on experience and observation of the world. And, I believe strongly in treating all people with dignity, respect, and to guarantee all people the same freedoms and rights. Therefore I am a feminist, and try to work to spread education through blogging.

Oh, and there is one other detail about my life. I am transgender.

This means that I was assigned male at birth, and grew up as a boy. However, my brain did not (and does not) match my tid-bits as most people’s do. So, from a very young age I wanted to be a girl. ‘Wanted’ is actually a bit of an understatement. I felt in my heart truly I was female, and that I should be female. To have to live as a boy gave me extreme depression and dysphoria. Up until pre adolescence this feeling was mild. But, when puberty was about to come and I realized that I was not going to go through female puberty, my gender dysphoria came out full strength.

Though I did try to tell my parents about my feelings, they would not let me live as myself. Leading to me being extremely depressed during my teenage years, on top of having the usual teenage angst and social awkwardness. But, when I became an adult I decided to transition and live as myself, as a woman, full time.

Now that’s simply who I am. Julie, a woman like any other. I don’t own boys clothes anymore, that sort of thing is way in my past. I don’t keep contact with anyone who called me by my dead name or pronouns either. I have to take female hormone supplements, but that’s not exactly abnormal as many women with hormonal conditions or who are post menopausal take these medications. When it comes to gender divisions such as using the bathroom or if for whatever reason a room is split between men and women, I go with the women’s (and on that note, no anti trans bathroom bill will ever stop me from doing so).

Now, to my point. If I had not told you, the reader, that I was trans (assuming that you hadn’t figured it out before hand from my other blog posts or the blog description), would you have ever guessed that based on the initial information I presented to you about my life? Probably not. You would have just taken this information and probably thought I was a pretty normal woman living a fairly dull life. Which is exactly what I am, and many of you will just accept the information that I am trans along with that.

Unfortunately, however, a large number of people would read the same and disregard every single prior point to when I stated that I am transgender. They would have thrown out every time I addressed myself as a woman and replaced it with ‘man’. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t lived as a man for years and that when I did I still identified and thought as female. To those people, that would all be disregarded simply because of the parts I was born with.

That is awful.

That mindset is so sickening and backwards. That a human being with a full life and personality can just be disregarded by so many people because of an arbitrary trait. Would anyone know that I was assigned male at birth? No. Even if one presumed it, they wouldn’t know that. They wouldn’t know what parts I was born with or what parts I have now because it is none of their business. And it really isn’t.

Who else gets questioned and chastised on their parts in their day to day life? I won’t say no one, because that’s a generalization I can’t make, but I can definitely say it’s not a normal part of life for most people. Yet, for myself, and the millions of other transgender people on the planet, it is part of our daily existence.

We are harassed, questioned, misgendered, and bullied simply because of that one fact. The rest of us are ignored, thrown to the wayside because to some people none of that matters. Just how we were born, and it is sick and twisted. How people can be so shallow is beyond my understanding.

Let me make this clear: I may be transgender, but I am a woman first and foremost, and a human being worthy of dignity and respect for my life and identity before that. All transgender people are human beings worthy of dignity and respect for themselves and their identities. Sure, some trans people are bad people, just like every other group has bad people. But, like every other group they are a minority among us. The vast majority of us are like me, flawed, but overall decent, normal people.

That is the truth about transgender people.

That we are people, and that we should be treated as such. And, that includes respecting our identities, presentation, pronoun choices, and of course the fact that regardless of who we were in life before, we are who we are now, and that is what matters.

Why Homophobic and Transphobic Christians Do Not Love LGBT People (According to the Bible)

So, a lot of anti LGBT Christians claim that even though they are against various LGBT people or actions, they still “love” those people. Well, there is a verse in the Christian Bible that I actually like that describes what love means. Let’s take a look shall we:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7New International Version (NIV)

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Now let’s compare the way homophobic and transphobic Christians who claim to love LGBT people’s love to the love described here:

-Love is patient:

Well, looking at how quick anti LGBT people try to make laws against LGBT people in reaction to laws for their rights, this obviously isn’t true.

-Love is kind:

Is it kind to keep two people to love each other from marrying? Is it kind to tell a trans person they should pretend to be something they are not even if it makes them miserable? Is it kind to tell your child they are an evil sinner who is going to Hell because of something they can not control? No. It’s not kind. It’s sick.

-It does not envy:

It’s all too often that the anti LGBT right says how somehow LGBT people have special rights (which we don’t), and how Christians should have more special rights. That’s pretty envious.

-It does not boast:

Unlike those who boast about how just and godly they are for their homophobic and transphobic words and actions.

-It is not proud:

Tie in to the last point.

-It does not dishonor others:

I would say taking away and denying rights from innocent people and refusing to let them love or live as they see fit is greatly dishonoring them.

-It is not self seeking:

Trying to oppose people’s rights, lives, and identities certainly isn’t helping those people, so who are anti LGBT Christians and other anti LGBT people helping with their cause if not LGBT people? Not society at large, certainly. Many of them say it’s serving God, but I think that simply means they are serving their own interests. Check.

-It is not easily angered:

There is no way easier to anger an anti LGBT conservative than than to argue in favor of gay or trans rights.

-It keeps no records of wrongs:

Do I even have to explain this one? All these people do is keep the wrongs of LGBT people. Or at least their perceived wrongs.

-Love does not delight with evil, but rejoices with truth:

While I know many of the people I’m addressing say they are the ones with the truth (the Bible). However, let’s look at the facts. Study after study on LGBT people has shown that it is not a choice. That gay couples can raise children just as well as straight couples. That transgender people are mentally the gender that they are. etc, etc. Yet anti LGBT people ignore these truths in favor of their own which goes against all common sense, science, and available evidence. Not to mention they delight when they can take away or deny happiness from LGBT people, which sounds pretty evil to me.

-It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves:

Homophobic and transphobic anti LGBT rights people do not protect nor preserve LGBT people. In fact we need protection from them. They definitely don’t trust us. And, the only thing that they hope is that we go away.

There, in the words of the Bible from a man who was a homophobic person himself. This homophobic misogynistic pharisee (Paul the Apostle) who wrote this verse is who most of the anti LGBT Christians look to instead of Jesus (since Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality, but Paul did) disagrees with the claim that these people love LGBT people. By his own words.

Anti LGBT Christians are not patient. They are not kind. They do envy. They do boast and are proud. They dishonor and hurt others, and keep a record of their alleged wrong doings and sins. They delight in their misery and ignore the truths presented to them. They do not protect, trust, or preserve us, and they hope for us only to go away or stop being the way we are.

This is not love. By the Bible the way anti LGBT Christians act towards LGBT people is NOT love. Not in one way shape or form. So, hate LGBT people if you want, but don’t say you love them when your own gospel tells you that you don’t.

 

Not a Matter of Opinion: Why Trans People’s Chosen Name’s and Pronouns are not up for Debate

One of my first posts on this site was regarding Caitlyn Jenner, who at the time was still going by her dead name Bruce Jenner.  As soon as Caitlyn came out to the public as a trans woman, blogs, people magazines, and Facebook newsfeeds blew up with both support and resistance against Jenner’s newly revealed identity.  In the fuss I wanted to write a piece to reflect how, while I still supported Jenner, as a fellow trans woman my experience and the experience of others of us could be very different from Jenner’s.  During that article I used male pronouns and the name ‘Bruce’ to address her, but that was because at the time she had not specified what name or pronouns she wanted used and had told the press to for now continue using male pronouns.  As of today, Caitlyn Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, announcing officially that her name is Caitlyn.  With this announcement came the critics and the reminder that there is something that Caitlyn, I, and all trans people face – misgendering.

With in hours after this news hit the internet, the has been Drake Bell posted on twitter that he would still call Caitlyn by her dead name.  On top of this many other people agreed with this ploy, refusing to properly gender Caitlyn by her true name nor by her female pronouns.  The argument’s ranged from that in their opinion Caitlyn is still a man to that in their opinion her name and gender is based on someone else’s opinion.  Basically all their arguments boiled down to the logic that it does not matter what Caitlyn thought or felt or says, it only matters to one’s own opinion, at least when it comes to her gender.

This mindset has been a bane of mine ever since I came out as trans myself several years ago.  Almost immediately after I bared this part of myself that I had been hiding for so long in large part due to fear of how I would be treated over it and I told the world, “I’m Julie, this is who I am, and this is who I want to be with out hiding it anymore,” – many of the people close to me retorted back that that was fine but they would still see me as a guy or as my old name.  Of course this hurt.  A lot.  It tore me apart emotionally.  At first I was patient, but as time went on few of these people made an effort.  In fact a couple of them even convinced other’s who did gender me correctly to stop doing so.  I kept trying to reach out to these people, but they would show no respect for me or my identity, so I stopped trying and now I no longer speak to any of them.  It’s sad too because besides their transphobic attitudes most of these people were people I really liked.  Not to mention, that on top of losing them, I also now don’t keep as well in contact with a lot of mutual friends in part because of the rifts driven between us by my would be friends.

Now this isn’t as much of an issue for me.  Except for my parents I have either cut contact with anyone who refused to gender me correctly or they have come around.  I still face the occasional purposeful misgendering when ignorant people find out that I am trans, but it’s fortunately rare.  The fact still stands though that I am pretty hurt about losing people I loved because I tried to be patient with them, but they made no effort to treat me with enough respect for me to keep trying.  I have also seen this with every trans person I know or know of, and the hateful and ignorant comments against Caitlyn Jenner that I have born witness to today prove that her case is not an exception.  The question remains, at least to some, why does ‘misgendering’ someone matter so much?

This really is for the most part a problem trans people tend to face.  Cis people get misgendered too sometimes, but usually there will be an apology issued to the person immediately after the mistake is found out.  However, this is often not the case with trans people who will often continue to be misgendered by someone even after they have been educated that they are wrong.  And, wrong they are.  A lesson that a lot of people need to learn is that someone else’s gender, identity, pronouns and/or name are theirs and theirs alone – and therefore no one else gets an opinion on it.

Yes, I just told the internet that they don’t get an opinion on something.  Before I have whiny trolls, trans exclusive feminists, and men’s rights activists cry about me suppressing their freedom of speech, I would like to remind everyone that this does not mean people don’t have an opinion on it.  Someone can think and feel anything for whatever reason, and no one can stop them.  If I think the sun is a giant light bulb sitting atop the Empire State Building, that is what I think on the matter, and I can refuse to be educated to think anything else.  In the same way no one can make someone else stop thinking trans women are men or that trans men are women or that non binary people do not exist.  I really wish we could make people stop thinking such things because those thoughts are problematic to society.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  However, while one can think anything they want about someone else’s name or gender they have no right to dictate that opinion as fact.

Let’s try an example.  Let’s say I was (magically) pregnant with a baby and the entire time I thought the baby was going to be a girl, so I tell everyone that she’s going to be a girl and that I’m going to name her Lilah.  The time comes and the baby is born, however the baby is a boy (we’re going by cisnormative assumptions for this example).  So, I adjust and name him Jim instead of Lilah.  Of course most people accept this and just treat him as a boy named Jim even though for a few months we were assuming the baby was a girl named Lilah.

Then Uncle Twatbrain comes along and is like, “You know what, she will always be Lilah to me because that’s what I knew her as.”

Obviously Uncle Twatbrain is being extremely ignorant, selfish, and ridiculous.  And, the family would shun Uncle Twatbrain for his rude and childish behavior.  Yet, I can guarantee that if 18 years later Jim came out that he was actually trans and a woman and wanted to go by Helena now, half of the people who ridiculed Uncle Twatbrain for misgendering “Jim” would now flat out continue to wilfully misgender “Helena”.  This is obviously a double standard, and not right.  I know some critics will sit here and say that Helena is a guy because they took sixth grade biology and that is enough to discredit the majority of psychologists and scientists whose studies have indicated over and over that trans people’s gender identities are valid and based on their mental gender, but once again those critics don’t have a say.  Because it’s someone else’s gender, not theirs

Misgendering trans people is hurtful to them, as well as harmful in general.  Because this isn’t letting people discover who they are and be respected for that.  When someone misgender’s someone else they are spitting on their identity and on their person and saying, “What you are deep in your heart is not what I see you as, so I’m not even going to attempt to respect you.”

That’s really what deliberate misgendering of a trans person comes down to – disrespecting them as human beings.  It would not be appropriate for me to call people who deliberately misgender trans people by the names I want to call them.  Instead I have to suck it up and address them by their name or title because that is the humane thing to do, even if in my mind they are a complete and utter pile of cow manuer, I can’t address them as such and claim to have respect for them.  Yet, somehow these people can misgender a trans person and claim that they are not disrespecting them by doing so.

It does not work like that.  Other people’s gender’s name’s and pronouns are not up for me to assign and dictate, yet many think that my gender, name, and pronouns, as well as many other trans people’s  are theirs to dictate.  Well, trust me, they are not.  Regardless of one’s opinion, someone else’s gender, name and pronouns are not a matter of opinion.

“It Could Always Be Worse” – An Excuse That Could Not Be Worse

It is a common scene in movies and television shows that the protagonist is down on their luck and everything is going wrong for them, and then they or their side kick utter the phrase, “It could always be worse,” which is then followed usually by a torrential downfall of rain.  We’ve seen this time and time again, and we usually laugh at the ridiculousness of the scenario.  Is, however, this really that ridiculous?

All of my life I have been told this line by many people – parents, teachers, friends, myself – yet I did not hear it nearly as much as I have since becoming more involved in feminism and transgender rights issues.  Now I hear some version of this line on a near daily basis, and I have to say I’m pretty fed up with it.

In recent times I have heard the line used in regards to the protests and police brutality going on in various parts of the United States such as Ferguson and more recently Baltimore.  “Oh, well, at least black people aren’t being treated as badly now as they were 50 years ago.  Progress!”  “The cops were just killing ‘thugs’ at least they weren’t killing innocent people.” (Debatable in some of these cases, and a non violent criminal act does not justify murder at the hands of the law in any case.) “Who cares that a few people of color were killed by cops, more white people are killed by cops.” (The latter is true, but the claim is misrepresented as even though more white people are killed by cops in total, far more black people are killed by cops per capita.)  But, it doesn’t stop there.  I’ve heard the line applied to LGBT people multiple times, most recently, “Gay people aren’t persecuted in the United States by not being granted rights, you should see the countries where people get put to death for being gay.”  And even when it comes to women’s treatment and rights, “Women have no more issues to face in the Western world, feminism should only concentrate on the third world where women have less rights.”  (I don’t completely disagree, at least I do agree feminism should focus more on the third world.  However, it is naive and foolish to say that there are not still a ton of gender inequality issues in the first world, and nay-Sayers usually ignore the fact that most of us don’t have the money to travel to other countries to help directly, rather we have to rely on electronic support which is limited).

All of these cases are people (usually opponents or critics of the group or cause) taking a separate situation and comparing it to the situation at hand to make it seem that the current situation is not important.  This however, is in itself a fallacy.  Just because one thing is important does not mean something else is not.  Just because there are countries where queer people can be publicly hanged and executed for their sexual orientation, does not mean that we should just be happy with being second class citizens in a country where we can not be legally killed for it.  It’s utterly ridiculous how many cases this excuse is applied to, and even more ridiculous how many of the people oppressed by this line of reasoning cling on to it as true.

Now, I’m not saying that there is absolutely no merit to saying that it could be worse.  Sure, that’s probably true on an ultimate level in all cases (just take about any situation and set anyone on fire), but it is not true many times in a practical sense.  Yes, we, as a people, do need to prioritize in some cases.  Thus why the hashtag #blacklivesmatter instead of #alllivesmatter, when both statements are equally true.  However, it is not all groups that are equally being oppressed or harmed, thus we do need to prioritize some to focus and heal on areas that need it most.  That is not to say that it should come at the expense of everyone else, but in most cases it really does not.

Let’s take a look back at my first example of the ongoing police brutality and murder of people of color.  As I stated before, some will point out that numbers wise more white people are killed by cops.  They say this as a way to downplay people of color being killed by cops, when really they should use this as more fuel to the fire to help change things.  If a lot of white people are being killed by cops, why is that a reason to stop fighting police brutality?  If anything this statistic should unite people of all race’s against a system which gives the police far too much power and far too little accountability.  Yet, instead of uniting people, people use this statistic to point out how it could be worse (once again mistakenly if going by numbers per capita which is more important) and fight each other instead of uniting against a common oppressor.

This excuse has to stop.  Who are we really helping by saying it could be worse?  Are we making things better for ourselves or for the people we are comparing our situation to?  No, not at all.  Instead by making this excuse we are sitting around ignoring all that is going on because, “It could be worse.”  Yes, it could always be worse, and we must always be grateful for and aware of the advantages and privileges that we do have.  But, that is not to say that we need to settle for mud because we could have shit.  We should still strive for gold over mud, that is why today things are better in much of the world than they ever have been.  Because our ancestors did strive for more because they saw where things could be worse, but they also saw where they could be better, and instead for settling for what they had, they aimed for the better.  We could still have better though, and I personally will strive for that better instead of being content things aren’t worse.

Perhaps the phrase it could be worse does have some application when teaching a child to be grateful for what they have or when things are not going in one’s favor, but when it comes to changing the world, truly, “It could always be worse.” is an excuse that could not be worse.