Here’s How To Earn Some Merit Badges

[Content note: Transphobia, outing]

I’m not psychic, but I’m hoping that in the coming days more cis people will speak out against Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs, but you knew that) super neat habit of outing trans* women and girls, trying to get them fired, contacting doctors to try to stop them from getting medical care, etc., etc.,

I mean, I’m not super stoked about this, because: a) I don’t think it’s very likely that the big name white cis corporate feminists who don’t usually give a crap about people who aren’t also white capitalists are going to make much noise, and b) TERFs don’t what y’all think. Still, indulge me for a minute.

I’m imagining a scenario where a bunch of white people speak out about terrorists trying to hurt a group of my friends, pat themselves on the back, and then go home. Yawn. Were this to actually happen, I guess I’d be down with the basic display of human decency, but that’s about it.

Do y’all know what goes into not being outed? You usually have to change your legal name, which typically costs a few hundred (or more) dollars and can be a huge PITA. If you’re a trans woman, you likely have to undergo facial hair removal, which takes fucking forever and costs thousands of dollars. If you’re in the US, you likely have to change your birth certificate, thanks in large part to bullshit “post 9/11” laws that require you to constantly document your existence if you want to hold a job or travel. That require you to have been born in a state that will issue a new birth certificate. (I was born in Minnesota, which will only issue an amended one. Three states won’t even amend birth certificates.) Just about always, you have to have proof of some sort of surgery (which most folks can’t afford) in order to make that happen.

So, you know, aside from lot outing and harassing trans people, there’s a lot more that would be allies could do.

Here’s one route:
– Fight for insurance to cover trans* people’s medical bills
– Fight to make legal names changes and new birth certificates easier to obtain.

Here’s another route:
– Fight to make sure all people have access to all necessary medical care.
– Fight bullshit laws (like REAL ID) that police people’s identities. I’ve had to show my birth certificate to my last two employers. It’d be sweet if I had a shiny new birth certificate, but remind me again why employers need to see that shit?
– Change society’s weird fetishization of legal names.

So yeah, I’m being heavy-handed here (although I didn’t bring up class warfare, so I could have been a lot worse), but yeah, for the bieberillionth time, intersectionality matters. I want folks to speak out against violet transphobes, but that’s not enough. I want folks to push for trans* friendly laws and policies, but that’s not enough either. If you want to earn a cookie (or was it a merit badge), you have to actually do the work that matters.


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