“Why don’t you guys do something?” Those were the eternal words of Storme DeLarverie as the pigs hauled her away in shackles, bloodied but unbowed, after she threw the first punch of the Stonewall Uprising. I feel like I’m screaming this to my people all the time lately and I still can’t seem to inspire the riot necessary for our collective survival.
We live in dangerous times. We have lived in them before but genderqueer people like me have never faced a creature quite like this. As we reach an era when we have never stood farther outside of the closet, we face an open and brazen campaign to extinguish us from public existence. While popular right-wing ideologues proudly call for our annihilation, state governments across the nation are dutifully carrying out their dictates.
Genocide is an ugly word, but I can’t think of a more appropriate description for the GOP’s war on “transgenderism.” At a time when violence and suicide have never been higher in the transgender community, we are drowning in a deluge of openly bigoted legislation.
2023 is already the fourth consecutive record-breaking year for anti-trans bills in this country, with 498 hate laws in counting proposed in 49 states. 43 have already passed. This includes 12 states pushing laws that violate the rights of minors to seek what has been clinically proven to be lifesaving care, as well as three who have also expanded those bans to reach well into adulthood, banning the use of puberty blockers up to the age of 26.
This hideous campaign also includes a growing rash of so-called anti-drag bills the likes of which have already passed in Tennessee and Florida and are effectively written to police public gender non-conformity in a blatant violation of free speech and expression. In Nashville, a second attempt at “male or female impersonation” is a felony that could lead to over half a decade in prison. That is six years upstate for the crime of having a dick beneath your dress.
And these lawmakers aren’t shy about their intentions either. They have made it painfully clear that they consider the entire transgender tribe to be little more than an ideology that they fully intend to censor out of existence by any means necessary and they are targeting our children first, using the public school system for its original intended purpose to kill the Queer and save the child so as to protect the sanctity of their idealized concept of purified cisgender youth. My people aren’t clueless to these facts. The word genocide is popping up like daisies in every support group and Queer bar across my little slice of rustbelt Americana, but I still can’t seem to inspire a single goddamn faggot to throw a fucking punch.
The stormtroopers are returning to Stonewall and every time I say revolution, my own fucking people stare at me like some kind of crazed heretic, telling me to simmer down and that this isn’t the appropriate time for such radicalism. Really? Then when? There is an open plot to erase us here. If this isn’t an appropriate time to arm ourselves to the teeth and batten down the hatches, then when is? I seriously want to know so I don’t miss the signal. Do we wait for the train cars to arrive at the gayborhoods? Or maybe we should just sing “We Shall Overcome” as they march us all into the fucking showers?
“Vote, march, be peaceful, repeat, vote, march, be peaceful, repeat…” this what they tell me over and over again. Hell, even the so-called radical Queers are simply peacefully marching to their local state capitols to demand that other powerful cis-gender people in Washington come to our rescue with the miracle of more useless legislation that no country sheriff or small-town principal is ever actually going to follow through on.
And they keep quoting Martin Luther King at me like braying birds, promising me with almost embarrassing sincerity that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.” How do I politely break it to them that this is total fucking bullshit? First of all, King was quoting a 19th-century clergyman named Theodore Parker who was actually trying to console his fellow white abolitionists with the hollow promise that at least there would be justice in the sweet hereafter. Second, there exists no single clearer case that peaceful liberal democracy achieves exactly nothing than the endless struggle for anything that even remotely resembles civil rights in this country.
Let me break it down for you.
Africans first came to this colonial outpost as indentured servants who could gradually reach the coveted status of property owners, provided that they purge themselves entirely of their backward negro ways.
They became the property when they rose up with fellow servants from Europe to demand more than the Faustian choice between backbreaking labor or soul-crushing assimilation.
Rural chattel slavery wasn’t so much abolished with Emancipation as it was replaced with the more efficient industrial wage slavery that made this colonial outpost an empire.
These supposedly free-wage slaves were further kept in line with the brutality of Jim Crow only to have it replaced by the white supremacist War on Drugs and the Prison Industrial Complex the exact same fucking year that Jim Crow was officially repealed by the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
So, now, thanks to that glorious arc of the moral universe, certain indentured servants with the right connections can reach the coveted status of Obamahood provided that they purge themselves entirely of their radical Black ways and kill 14-year-old Arabs with Reaper drones. Doctor King weeps. Sunrise. Sunset. Any questions?
Believe it or not, I actually fucking hate having to be this damn pessimistic all the time. Kali knows, I never get laid at parties. But I didn’t write history and I sure as fuck didn’t invent the cruelty of objective reality and the cruel objective reality is that racial disparity of nearly every kind imaginable in this country has not improved by one inch since 1968. Meanwhile, trigger-happy cops are killing Black kids like menthol vape pens and the majority of Black men in major urban areas exist under the bondage of correctional control with permanent criminal records that allow them to be legally discriminated against in nearly every way that they were under Jim Crow. The arc of history in this country bends towards oppression.
So, what happened to our precious liberal democracy? Motherfucker, this is your precious liberal democracy. I’ll let you in on one more dirty little secret. This liberalism gig is nothing but a bourgeoise drag show. The Age of Enlightenment occurred among the intellectual elites in the dark heart of Babylon during the height of colonialism, slavery and imperial genocide. From this same swamp of powdered wigs and pompous twats came the twin inventions of race and liberalism and both were devised for the exact same reason, to rationalize psychotic behavior.
Like any other serial killer, the state desperately needs to believe in the benevolence of its own cruel existence in order not to crash like an idle shark. So, it replaced monarchies with congresses that hand out “rights” like gangsters hand out turkeys at Christmastime and it replaced puritanical crusades with the new secular religion of racial science, all in the name of the endless march of civilized progress.
The gender binary was an invention of these same enlightened creeps too. More puritanical social conditioning masquerading as science. But the savages didn’t need to be fucking enlightened. Our pagan tribes were doing just fine before civilization came to brain us with the bludgeon of their historical arch. Pre-liberal societies from Africa to Atzlan existed for centuries without rigid gender boundaries, hierarchical racial caste systems and enlightened academic sociopaths. They also existed without prisons or monsters with badges to pack them full of broken children.
The few major achievements in social progress that have ever been made in this country weren’t made by Washington or Harvard. They were made by wild unassimilated savages in the streets when they finally stopped singing and started swinging. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 was only signed into law under the duress of massive nationwide riots that came after Doctor King was assassinated, and a year later proud faggots like Storme DeLarverie and Marsha P. Johnson followed their lead by beating the police state stupid like a rented mule at Stonewall. The only reason that we didn’t achieve more is because we stopped short of the revolution that we needed to be free and the only reason that we stopped is because the state paid us to behave with temporary privileges that they call rights.
As long as the state stands, marginalized people will remain at the mercy of its enlightened aristocracy who will only ever give us just enough rights to behave and then replace them with more violence once we let our guards down. I don’t believe in coincidences because I don’t have the agency to afford them. Queer people became targets for genocide again the moment we began to assimilate into the same breeder state that Storme begged us to smash.
So, I’m going to ask you, people, one more time, as nicely as a bloodied but unbowed genderfuck bitch like me knows how to ask. Why don’t you guys’ fucking do something? Justice doesn’t come from civilization, it comes from pissed-off freaks like you and me in the streets, and the arc of the moral universe doesn’t bend unless we grab it with both hands and wrap around the throats of the powerful.
When the state gets violent, reform becomes an act of mass suicide and I’m done with drinking that cult’s punch. It’s time to get fierce and it’s time to get organized. It’s time to finish the Stonewall Uprising and overthrow the government once and for all, side by side with every other tribe that refuses to conform to the institutional violence of liberal reform. Queer revolution now!