Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On small southern towns

I know you, Southern Small Town. I KNOW you. I see you posting nasty things about transgendered people molesting children while you dither about how you know Uncle Joe touched cousin Jill's little girl inappropriately but nobody talks about it and the little girl seems fine these days so maybe it's okay to invite Uncle Joe to Thanksgiving anyway. I know you and your conspiracy of silence around rape, around sexual abuse, around mental illness, around every goddamned thing that's ugly. I KNOW YOU.

You know it, too. You know that it's not transgendered people in bathrooms molesting your children. You know goddamned well that the super butch "macho" guy standing at the door or the slick dude at church is more likely to do shit like that--to molest, to hit, to lie about it--than the transperson in the bathroom. Because, like I said, I know you. I know you're not stupid, despite what mass media would have me believe. Because I grew up there, too. I know how strong you are, I know how blisteringly smart you are or can be (some of y'all are stupid, but that's your own fault, and there's stupid in cities, too).

I also know how afraid you are. I know how, in a small town, you can't put your foot down without risking losing your whole social network. I know how important it is for you to conform--to post about Jesus, to post about how Obama is ruining the nation, to post about transfolks being dangerous--because it's always safer to be conservative in a small town like where you live. I KNOW YOU. I see you. I know that if you lose your friends, life will be miserable. I know. You can't just go out and get new ones, in a small town, not easily.

I'm still appalled at your utter failure of compassion, though. I am constantly horrified. I left my small southern town for some very good reasons, but I am still shocked, I still thought better of you, I really did. I am stunned that you can think about someone who feels wrong in their body, who goes through something that I have to imagine is difficult and terrifying, this transition from man to woman or woman to man, and think "what a horror show" rather than that poor person, who had to deal with that. Who had to risk their whole social world (where's your compassion for that?) so they could be true to themselves, so they could live out this life, this only life we get, as happily as possible. The more I think about this, the more horrified I am, the more I start thinking nasty things about what's made you this way. What is WRONG with you?

I see you. I know you. Be better, goddamn it.

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