Silence is Violence: A Trans Man Weighs In
Silence is Violence
200, 29, 372.
These numbers are related. How? Two hundred anti-LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) bills have been brought to congress this year alone. Twenty-Nine. That is the hourly rate of one transgender women (Assigned Male at Birth, or MTF), killed every twenty nine hours. By tomorrow morning, another woman will be dead.
Three-hundred and seventy-two. That is the number of mass shootings that have happened this year. Thousands of people injured, hundreds deceased. You would think some change would happen in light of these events. Nothing has changed here, and we begin to wonder if it ever will.
We blame a shadowy figure in the distance, something we can chase with weapons raised and screams cartwheeling out of our throats. Dark skinned foreign threats on other shores, people with different roots. People around this country pray for the victims of the Pulse shooting; those same people who shared jokes about transgender people being "rapists and confused perverts". They called for them to be mutilated, castrated, segregated: in the case of a few politicians from Texas, shot on sight. We claim the shooter is a racist, a closeted gay, a product of his religion, a Democrat. Anything to put him as far away from us. We pray for victims for whom we have no love for.
The LGBT community doesn't want your prayers. You did not know a transgender woman is killed every twenty-nine hours. It seems like it would be huge news, there's no way that's true, right? It's easier to make sweeping racist statements with no statistical bearing than to believe something so visceral, so real to someone in that community. To admit you do have racism inside of you, that you do not care about LGBT people. To admit that a crime can be both a terror and a hate crime. It would be too much guilt.
Guilt over what? That you didn't know about the bomb that went off in a target ladies room. Didn't know how many bills have been brought to the floor this year, weren't aware of Missouri refusing to wave flags at half mast after the Pulse shootings. You didn't know that a Jewish man recently stabbed several people during Israeli Pride. You may not even know what a trans man is (Assigned Female at Birth, FTM). You dismissed LGBT people for being "only x% of the population" (it always changes, depending on who you ask).
Calling on the LGBT community to condemn radical Islam, claiming, "Muslims hate gays, why doesn't the gay community call them out?" is not only insulting in their current state, but downright disrespectful to the hundreds of LGBT people who have died this year at the hands of their fellow Americans. It isn't radical of us to point the finger away from ourselves, as most people with keyboards think it is.
it would be radical for you, and for our nation, to look inside ourselves; to take responsibility. We know why the shooter fired his gun. He is from New York, Brooklyn. He trained with the NYPD. He bought his gun legally. He wasn't religious until recently, when he decided to "get his life together". We are quick to call someone who- as of yet - has no literal ties to ISIL a terrorist. In fact, the FBI cleared him already; they’ve concluded he has zero ties to the organization. Yet, we were not quick to call the Carolina Shooter, a white supremacist who shot nine black men and women in church, a terrorist, and we still hesitate to call it a Christian terror act.
Let me preface that by saying neither religion is inherently peaceful. When Christianity needed to be deadly, when parts of the world where it was practiced [were] attacked and under fire, it was a bloodthirsty Crusade. Religious texts are inherently used for violence and all contain it within them, that is what they are for. To organize, draft and weaponize people in faith. Even the Buddhists have done this in China (and elsewhere - for clarity, the largest conquering empire in all of history, with a story of battlefield rape reflected in modern genetic ties that link China and southeast Asia to Russia and Eastern Europe, the Mongolian Empire, was Buddhist). Islam is in it's rocky stage as of late, and maybe in a hundred years ISIL will be one guy on a street corner screaming out taking over the world. For now, it's not; it will be someday.
In short, religion is also what you make it. You may take parts out to suit your needs, whether it's your All American Homophobia, your hatred of Black people, or your doctrine on peace. Non-religious people regularly take bits and piece of the Constitution out of context to suit their needs, any document claiming it has answers will be ripped apart on principle.
Attacking a phantom won't change the climate the Pulse shooter came from. Men like him are in a pressure cooker, their bigotry is being pushed out as more people accept LGBT people. Will you be one of them, or will you find it within yourself to reevaluate, to call on your fellow Americans for peace and justice, to learn about your LGBT siblings? Will you break the silence, and end the terror?
Time will tell.