Once again, italics indicate sections which were edited out of the original speech.
Hi, I’m CAM, an out-and-proud transwoman, activist and advocate. I’m an abuse survivor who struggles daily with depression, anxiety and PTSD severe enough to be crippling at times, severe enough that most days I don’t even leave the house. Sometimes, I lose whole days from getting triggered by the latest round of ignorance, hate and violence against our community being spread around social media.
It’s safe to say, I know something about fear and anger. Considering the cultural zeitgeist of the last year, there’s plenty to be fearful of and angry about. Fascists are marching openly, and well-armed, with the ‘president’s’ approval. Scorched earth political positions are up-ending much of what we have taken for granted. The very death of Truth, itself, looms before us.
As a transwoman, every single one of my civic rights is literally being eliminated, one by one, in the courts. Trump has given the go-ahead to medical providers to refuse me service, based on “Jesus hates queers,” or some other religious doctrine such as this. The fear is real, the anger is valid. But fear and anger will not build our beloved community. Only hop[e will do that.
Reacting out of fear and anger gives us Democrats who are anti-choice, Democrats who favor Wall Street over the rest of us, Democrats who approve of warrantless wiretapping and chained cpi for social security, Democrats who fight against healthcare for all or a $15 minimum wage. Fear gives us ‘anybody but.’ We can do better. We must do better.
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Beware the false choices of either the neo-liberalism of the Democrats or the neo-fascism of the Republicans. It’s time to stop talking about how bad the other side is, and start talking about how great our side is. And it’s time to make damn sure our side truly is great, and great for all of us.
This is our moment to take a stand, to show up, stand up and speak up. Fear is a natural response to terrorism – that’s what the current administration amounts to – indeed, fear is the purpose of terrorism. Frightened people are much easier to control and manipulate. But fear and anger will not save us, will not move us forward. Only we can do that, and only if we aspire to our highest hopes. Every time we stand together, for each other, we stand stronger.
Now is exactly the time to go big, to express our highest ideals. Equal Rights for All Amendment, universal healthcare, sane immigration and policing policies. Fear and anger won’t get us these things, only hope and sustained work will do that.
Hope gets us transwoman Danica Roem in the Virginia senate. Hope gets us Andrea Jenkins, trans woman of color, and Phillipe Cunningham, trans man of color, both from Minneapolis. Hope gets us Raven Mathis, first out transwoman elected to a legislative seat in Connecticut, down in Stamford. And others.
Hope, and focusing on the positive, on what we can do, rather than what is being done to us, drives many of the organizations here today.
Hope gets me out the door.
Being driven by fear and anger, however valid, means we are constantly dancing to the tune of those who would destroy this country. Hope, expressing ourselves in our highest dreams, turns the national conversation away from them, and towards us. Away from the most odious in the country towards the most positive. Away from merely being ‘against’ someone or something – an easy, but lazy and ineffective position that empowers the attacker, and towards being ‘for’ something. Working for something positive is a hell of a lot more empowering than being a knee-jerk to a demagogue. Working for something goes beyond the catharsis of anger and actually changes the world. It’s time for us to own the conversation, and to start having it on our terms, rather than the fascists’ terms. It’s time for us to move beyond reacting and towards building.
One of my current hopes is to build a trans community in Northeastern Connecticut, QCX (Quiet Corner Trans). If you are, or know anyone who is, a gender minority, please feel free to contact me about the group.
Meanwhile, let’s all nurture hope and love in ourselves. Give light to our better angels, not our worse. Walk in kindness, and stay active! Come out of that closet with all the love, hope and best you have to offer.
Surely, that is the way out of this mess.