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Op-Ed: The Politics of Transgender — ‘Scapegoats in the Culture War’

Editor’s Note: This Op-Ed was written and submitted to Breitbart Texas by Olivia Maynard, a transgender woman living in Houston, Texas.

Being a transgender person living in Houston, Texas, during the election season of an acrimonious culture war sure is hard, ya’ll. I mean seriously.

I was asked to write an Op-Ed about being transgender so here it is. This is my, and only my, opinion. I do not speak for any other person—no group, no movement, no wing or ideology. The only thing I wish to persuade you of is to please separate us from politics. Please see us for what we are, individuals. Judge us by the content of our character and not some designation in the game of identity politics.

Houston Transgender Rally

There are Trans people who are Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative. We have passions and goals that are as varied as any other category by which you wish to segregate, and pigeonhole the human condition.

What occurred in this election seemed to me to be that transgender people were and are being used as a scapegoat in the culture war, and used as a proxy in the never-ending fight over gay marriage. We are used to getting rantings, and being used to stir anger to drive people to the polls. We take the blame for the loss when the political machine failed to respond to the opposition. Both the Left and the Right attack us and blame us for their problems. The Right say we are dangerous and trot us out as lurking predators. The Left say we enforce stereotypes, and caused the failure of the ordinance in Houston, and put equal rights ordinances in danger across the nation. There is even a petition to kick T out of LGBT. We can’t win.

From the bottom of my broken transgender heart, please, please, stop. We are not predators. To attack us in such a way does damage to innocent people. We have high rates of depression, addiction, and suicide. We are a tiny minority, with a medical condition that most have never heard of, and don’t have time to bother to understand. We faced higher rates of violence even before such a public call to fear and hate us. Now we fear we will be the target of even more violence, not only from strangers, but from ourselves. It is so sad to read about people who take their own life. Rejection, alienation, and bullying, extract a heavy toll on our beleaguered minority community. All too often that toll is our blood.

Oddly, this intersection of our easily alienated status and culture war provides profound opportunity for our intrepid group of persistent survivors. We have, in this time of attack, sought each other out, and clung to each other for support, love, and encouragement regardless, of race, wealth, beauty, ability, status, class or any other arbitrary division. We foster an entrepreneurial spirit I think people want to see in our country—a togetherness we all lack in this silly bait and click soundbite culture.

I realized that silly and petty political divisions, the inability to listen, the desire to always be right and to win had harmed me. It had made me fail to see the humanity in others. I ignored their beauty, intelligence, talents, and more tragically, their frailty and hurt. I personally had attacked a kind and beautiful person because she dared to have an opinion that was different than mine, and OMG, she calls herself not only a Republican, but a Christian too. Well I just can’t have that! I had stopped even seeing her as a human at all really. I saw her as some label. She was some other thing. She was my enemy. I didn’t care about her life or problems. I gave no consideration in any way to how my actions might affect her even though not even two weeks prior she had taken the time to listen to me complain about how crappy it was when people are mean.

Our culture needs less acrimony. It needs less in your face antagonism. Oh please, Jesus, we need less drama in the comments section. Yes, I know I am a major contributor to drama in the comments section Breitbart fans.

I love my city. I am proud to be a Houstonian. I love all my fellow citizens. I want equality and dignity for all of us. We have issues of great importance going on in the world and I think we are allowing ourselves to be distracted by anger and identity politics. I love my country, and want us all to have dignity, and to be able to follow our passions, and make a living to support ourselves and our families with a clear conscience.

So, I propose a bargain. Please see us as individuals with our own separate ideas and desires. A transgender person is out there right now, just dying to hear someone say Merry Christmas don’t you know. There is someone who has no one to agree with them that, OMG taxes are too high or too low. There is a transgender person out there that agrees with you that this politician or policy is great or is garbage. Or, that politics is dumb or sports are great or dumb. There is a transgender person who would be a great employee if only given the opportunity to show they have something to offer. If you include us, I am quite certain you will find that we offer far more to your cause with our talent and passion, than we offer as a sacrifice.

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