Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Crippled Queer Police

Originally posted on a private website

I mentioned a ways back wanting to be accountable for being judgy/policing of fellow queers. I have had a hard time with egocentrically judging people who don't struggle the way I do, or struggle the forms of homo and trans phobia that I defined as struggling, as being able to share my identity. I knew this was problematic for a thousand reasons but I have really struggled to let it go. Many of my personal experiences with people that met this specific demographic led me down this path, but I also know that I have had a tendency to attract problematic people in my life. Judging others based on these experiences is an understandable survival mechanism, but not a fair one. It is wrong. It is exhausting. It is toxic. I knew this logically, but still I struggled to fully accept everyone who identifies as queer no matter how hard I tried.

Today I was given a great gift- I reconnected with an old friend who is a dfab queer who has not fully labeled her gender and in a monogamous marriage to a straight dude (who I also adore.) I met her for lunch and we ended up spending the entire day together passionately sharing stories and catching up on the years we spent apart. I started to realize that she is one of the people that would fit into a demographic I might be judgmental of (though normally the demographic has to include taking up all of the space in the room, silencing queer and trans people, refusing to accept no/respect consent, and/or lacking radical politics- all traits she lacks). Still, I realized that she and her husband are the type of people I would probably let give me a sponge bath if I was sick. They are the type of people I would feel more comfortable with seeing me fuck than I would some queers that struggle in more similar ways to myself. They are people I love and miss. They are people I want to protect. They are people I want to live full lives with everything they need.

I listened to her talk about invisibility, discovering she was queer (something I always new) and trying to be more out, and the level of criticism she faces from her gay friends. What some people don't know about me is that I faced similar criticism back when I came out because I had not yet broken things off with the man I was with (different scenario because I gave up straight cis men, but same judgy mistreatment.) This alone should have stopped be from eventually becoming one of the judgers.

It hurt me to hear her struggles. Normally I would shake things like this off or think, "Yeah but you have to understand that we face this kind of oppression every day when we move through the world," but FINALLY my brain was being faced with a living breathing example of how the oppression she was facing from invisibility was far closer to the oppression I face with visibility than it is to the average heterosexual person. She also "looks queer" and when she is not with her husband, she DOES suffer homophobia regularly. I realized that I wanted to defend her and to shut down any person just like me that would dare tell her who she was. I wanted to rip out the part of me that ever thought or said things like that. Even though they were difficult, these feelings felt wonderful. They were feelings I was striving for but kept on struggling to truly feel.

I am a disabled trans queer who looks fucking weird. My trans status is plastered across medical sheets at doctors appointments I attend at least weekly. I am lucky enough to have discovered kind practitioners (finally,) but I never have a moment to escape the visibility of queer and trans oppression. Every new doctor is a terrifying lead up to what might happen. The fear of the bad things that could happen becomes more disabling than actual bad things happening much of the time. My only saving grace is ironically being too ill to work, which allows me to hide in my house most of the time.

That said, I struggle with invisible disabilities. Simply talking to my friend for hours shot all of my pain through the roof and I had to take extra medication and have ice packs on me during most of our hang out simply to stop crying out here and there and wincing constantly. But looking at me, you might not know that I do not have a single moment in any day free of moderate to severe pain nor do I have moments free of racing thoughts, invasive images, mood swings, and/or flashbacks. If someone were to claim that I was not truly struggling because I did not use a wheelchair or have a very visible disability aside from a slight limp, it would hurt me so badly I would want never to talk to that person again. It was here that I made the connection. This is probably how terrible it feels to be told you are not really queer because of what relationship you are currently in. Or to have someone make you work harder to be accepted as queer or in queer space because of whatever trait you have that doesn't achieve the gold metal in the oppression olympics.

Yes, I certainly understood this on paper. I, on paper, can recite whatever perfect radical shit I am supposed to say. But, to truly believe and feel that radical shit in our hearts takes work and it takes RELATIONSHIPS. Disability has kept me inside and away from people most of my life. It has made me cancel. Abuse histories have made me refuse to trust and have caused me to severely judge anyone I come in contact with. Again, understandable survival mechanisms can still be unfair. They can still be wrong. I have known I was being unfair, but couldn't stop. It was being face to face with another human being (and my pathologically strong in-person empathy) that helped me connect.
The great thing about the internet is that it exposes us to so many things in the world. This is also the danger. Because when we fail to connect in the same ways through cyberspace. It is shown in studies that knowing trans people is whe most important thing that helps people be less transphobic, rather than media or education campaigns (though those still factor in.) I assume this to be true for other oppression as well.

Brevity ain't my strong suit, but if you have made it this far, I'm sorry if I've ever judged you or led you to feel judged. It's my shit, not yours.

All of you queers that "look queer" and queers that "look straight," all you queers monogamous with straight partners, all you queers polyamorous with every queer in town, all you queers who just came out, all you queers who decided to change, all you queers that stayed the same, all you queers that transition, all you queers that don't, ALL YOU QUEERS I fucking love you, I am here for you, and you are welcome in my space any time.

Please forgive me. And thank you for existing.

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