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“Am I Surprised? No. I’m Never Surprised by Evil.”

“Am I Surprised? No. I’m Never Surprised by Evil.”
June 9, 2016 Jennifer Boylan
As part of a series of articles on the 1 year anniversary of Obergefell vs. Hodges, (the SCOTUS verdict that made marriage equality the law of the land), Steven Petrow of the Washington Post asked me these five questions:
1. What’s your take on the past year when it comes to LGBT acceptance? Is it different in different regions?
Professor Boylan outside of Burp Castle in the East Village, NYC

Professor Boylan outside of Burp Castle in the East Village, NYC

Things have gotten better. But they haven’t gotten better everywhere, and they haven’t gotten better for everyone.  If you’re a person whose only issue is marriage equality, or someone living in a blue state,  things are looking up.  If you live somewhere else, or if you’re a transgender person, especially a trans woman of color, things are as hard as they’ve ever been, and you stand a very good chance of being unemployed, or homeless, or being on the receiving end of violence.   And this cannot stand.  The right to live your life free of fear shouldn’t be dependent on geography.

2. Have you been surprised by the backlash in general, and then more specifically, against trans people?
It would be nice if the movement for progress were a nonstop flight toward a better world. But things never work that way. For every advance there is a new round of resistance.   If you think about Prop 8 in California, that tremendous setback came in response to emerging freedoms.  But that very defeat further inspired people to advocate for justice, and for love, and in time those forces carried the day.  But it takes time, and it means enduring a tremendous amount of hatred in the meantime, and it just breaks people.  Am I surprised?  No.  I’m never surprised by evil.  Those forces run pretty deep in human nature.  Fortunately, so do the powers of love and forgiveness.

3. Why does there still seem to be so much fear of trans people if not antipathy and hate?

Well our numbers are smaller, for one, so it’s less likely cis people will have a trans man or woman as a family member or friend, and it’s that kind of connection to oppressed people that makes all the difference in terms of recognizing our humanity.  But more importantly, trans people’s struggle requires a kind or moral imagination that many people find a challenge. What I mean is that straight people know what it’s like to be in love– so a movement based around the idea that “everyone deserves to love whom they love” is not a hard sell.  But transness isn’t about who you love; it’s about who you are.  And many people just can’t imagine what it must be like to find yourself in a body that doesn’t feel like home.  But they should try to imagine it.  In the name of God they should try to imagine it.  Because it’s a very hard life, and this vulnerable, precious community deserves love and kindness and understanding.  Instead of being turned into whipping girls and boys for people whose stock in trade is hate.

4. What needs to happened next in terms of acceptance?

Everyone needs to open their hearts and treat their fellow man and woman with love.

5. Anything else you have to add?

Well, just that I know that “open your heart and treat people with love” sounds like an easy thing to say, and that I recognize that in fact it’s not.  Treating other people with love is in fact the hardest thing in the world. But we can do it.  One soul at a time.

4 Comments

  1. Gregg Shore 10 months ago

    I know that my position is in the minority, especially in the Gay Community, where Drag Queens r beloved, but I am hoping u will consider my thoughts and help me and the 99% of LGBT people who r trying to fit in as “normal” in NoWhereVille, USA!..

    RuPaul and Drag Queens are the equivalent NEGATIVE stereotype to LGBT people as Minstrel Shows (Black Face) were to African-Americans in the 19th Century!…

    These shows are comedic entertainment, based on negative stereotypes; being media frenzied, sexually explicit, over the top, bitch-divas!..

    The world is having their first contact with real life LGBT people through these shows, thus: these negative stereotypes are being portrayed as OUR “norm”, making it difficult, if not impossible, for us to fit in and be accepted as the regular NORMAL people we are, in both the Business and the Social world!…

    Have You seen this Face Book post “This is what Trans looks like”?
    http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2016/03/this-is-what-trans-looks-like-governor-mccrory/

    He is what trans looks like!

    I am what trans looks like! (see attached pics)

    Drag Queens are what North Carolina is scared trans people ARE – outrageous, over-the-top attitude, behavior and dress!

    I would like to be thought of as: intelligent (not calculating), dressed business appropriate in a skirt (not as a hooker), and most of all, NORMAL (not a self-centered egomaniac)!!..

    I’m not fighting for RuPaul to sashay on TV…

    I’m not fighting for Caitlyn Jenner to be real-life Malibu Stacey

    I’m fighting and the 99% of us, the average LGBT Joe/Jane, NOT in Hollywood, who just wants to fit in and be accepted in Nowhere Ville, USA!

    We want to be accepted as serious members of the community: lawyers and school principals – NOT as JOKES and clowns!

    Can we PLEASE stop PRO-LGBT media outlets (LogoTV, GLASD) from giving accolades and awards to the people who are hurting our REAL chances of being accepted in the REAL world!

    Gregg…
    http://www.kstny.com

  2. MiMi 10 months ago

    So very true. Thank you for all you do.

  3. Thomas D. Finney III 10 months ago

    “But they should try to imagine it. In the name of God they should try to imagine it.” JFB

    Don’t even care if they do it in the name of their Uncle John … They Should try to imagine it. Gratitude seems such a hollow word. But gratitude and respect Ms. Boylan! Gratitude and respect.

    TDF III

  4. Cynthia 10 months ago

    The backlash made me come out as a grad teaching assistant. That was the easy part. I almost daily engage transgender debates, in a respectable way, on one of the biggest firearms boards, being an Oklahoman and all, ya’ll. The point is sometimes you have to wrestle the pig on its terms.

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