Wait to Come Out, Maybe Lose the Opportunity


I’m not a liberal, but I’m cynical enough to be very concerned about how polarized the culture of the US is becoming, and the impending Presidential election is making it worse.

No, this article isn’t to suggest how you should vote. It IS suggesting that the sun might be about to set on the brief sunlit period of acceptance and safety that US transgender people have enjoyed in the last few years.

Quite a few years ago, when I was developing software for the government, the lunchroom was an informal setting where people sat at tables together, without necessarily liking or knowing each other. Most typically, person A dimly knew person B who was sitting at a particular table, and brought his lunch tray over and sat down there, even though he didn’t know the other half-dozen people at that table.

During one such conversation, I was sharing a lunch table with someone who was as high-up in the non-military part of government as anyone I have ever met. He was a very, very senior person. He was also very opinionated. He loudly said that his solution to the problem of HIV was to create a concentration camp named “The Last Resort” and to round up and lock up everyone with HIV. Under his plan, people with HIV would be sent to that camp and be forced to stay there until they died. He said it sort-of as a joke but he was using humor as a fig leaf to cover what he really thought and meant. Even if he’d been a junior government employee, that would still have been disconcerting enough to me. But to hear a very high-up government civil servant say so, out loud, in a public setting … that was most disturbing.

For example, a soul-baring confession from a former Nixon adviser admitted that the Nixon administration was irritated with two main groups: anti-war people and blacks. The administration couldn’t get away with arresting people outright just for being anti-war or black, but by adding the red herring that anti-war people were pot-heads, and then declaring pot illegal, they had enough of an obfuscating pretext to harass anti-war people, disrupt their meetings, and lock up their leaders. Ditto as to black people and heroin. Did the government people know they were lying about the drugs? “Of course,” confessed this former senior official.

I read and see videos about how vastly the Federal government is trampling people’s rights — serious stuff, like law enforcement agents shooting LaVoy Finicum dead while he clearly had his hands up. Also most serious are the Federal abuses of power which led up to that murder.

Much of my family is German. I speak with a slight German accent. I lived in Germany during part of my childhood. I was morbidly intrigued by how a country of poets,  scientists and philosophers could elect Adolf Hitler, round up Jewish people and send them to concentration camps where the most horrible things would be done to them.

Can I imagine that sort of thing happening in the US? We already know that sufficient  malice exists in high office, that massive abuse of power is going on and has been going on for a long time.

If you’re a liberal then maybe you’re not all that worried because, hey, whatever, it’s currently “the other side” that’s being treated unfairly … but it takes only one backlash to change all that, and then all the mechanisms that enable government abuse of power will be aimed at liberals and their causes. Look how the country has swung from one extreme to the other: Nixon, then Carter, then Reagan, then Clinton, then Bush, then Obama (and yes, I’m leaving two out for reasons I’ll explain if you ask me).

The way that the wrong crowd of Democrats have been behaving while in power makes an anti-liberal  backlash not just inevitable but even understandable. The question is only how far that will go.

If the wrong Republican crowd gets into power, they will no doubt start skewering liberal sacred cows. I would expect that transgender people — as such — will be high on the list, just after refugees and illegal aliens. Will transgender people officially be rounded up and locked up ? I’d guess … probably not. Will the wrong Republican crowd, in power, fan the flames of hatred against transgender people so that adult bullies crawl out of their dark hiding places and once again feel safe enough to initiate abuse and violence against transgender people while law enforcement looks the other way? No doubt.

How far would the official attack on transgender people go? Would people whose passports were corrected from “M” to “F” have to hand them back, and have them changed back to “M?” Maybe, but — my guess is — probably not. Would government agencies have new guidelines that make the issuing of new passports follow rules that have such effect, and also make it much harder for a just-out transgender person to transition? No doubt. Just a small-seeming policy change can seem innocent — and yet, in effect, it could change everything.

Since the wrong Republican crowd probably hates gays even more, why wouldn’t they come after gays just as enthusiastically? Probably because bullies respect strength, and gay people have strength in numbers, plus in cultural-mainstream acceptance, due to having been “out” for more years.

By contrast, transgender people are (as far as I can tell) a much smaller group, and in US culture we are a new-enough phenomenon to where there’s still much cultural animosity towards us. Transgender people are not yet mainstream enough to where most people would (grudgingly or otherwise) leave us alone even if the wrong Republican  crowd has the upper hand.

Are you not yet out, and you’re worried that coming out is hard today? I’d guess that the difficulty, danger, risks and stakes are likely to increase dramatically in the near future.

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