So, DOMA and Prop 8 happened today. I feel like I won’t be a good little queer if I don’t say something about it. I wasn’t watching; I was sleeping because I’d stayed up half the night liveblogging the Texas SB 5 filibuster on Tumblr. (You know things are happening when you hit the daily post limit at 2 pm.) But when I got up, there it was: DOMA was dead, and Prop 8 had been dismissed.
I hadn’t really been expecting that. Yes, I’d been hopeful since March, but when SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act the other day, I threw my hopes out the window. And those hopes weren’t even hopes of getting married. As regular readers will know, they were hopes of getting this predominantly white, cis, middle-class issue out of the way and starting work on many other vitally important, intersectional LGB and especially TQ+ issues.
So maybe that will happen now. My fears, though, since the court delivered the most narrow of possible rulings on Prop 8, is that the next 5-10 years of the queer movement will be spent getting federal gay marriage and/or overturning individual state bans (and then secondarily preventing bullying of predominantly white middle-class queer kids). Because marriage sells. Romance novels sell. Same-sex romance novels and porn for the titillation of heterosexuals sell. What will happen with queer rights is what is most easily sold to said heterosexuals, and therefore what is usually the least pressing to those who are actually queer.
You see, the rulings do not make me any less of a second-class citizen. I’m not married, same-sex or otherwise. I’m going to be 19 in the fall, which is way too young, and same-sex marriage isn’t campaigned about in Pennsylvania, let alone legal. So the DOMA ruling does not even directly affect me.
What does affect me is that in most states, including parts of my own, I can legally be fired for being trans*. Such a thing is highly unlikely with my current employer, but it still puts me on guard and keeps me silent when someone messes up my pronouns or calls me “Christine.” What does affect me is that in most states, insurance companies are not required to cover trans* healthcare. What does affect me, though less directly now, is that most states do not have LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying laws. I’m at a queer-friendly school, but most of my queer Tumblr friends aren’t, and a lot of them post suicidal ideations all over their blogs. What does affect me is that most high schools do not have inclusive sex-ed, or even basic hetero sex ed. My school had what’s considered a pretty good program. They showed us a lot of slides of STDs and actually taught us about consent (I didn’t know, at age 16, that if a guy had screwed me while I was unconscious, that that was rape, not just a scumbag move), but they never showed us a condom. It took till a college wellness class before I saw either a condom or a dental dam in real life.
What does affect me is the nationwide lack of education about trans* issues. What does affect me is that most people do not know that gender does not equal sex. What does affect me is the stress of not knowing whether I can use a bathroom without being arrested. What does affect me is the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which may make it so that I and other trans* people will not be able to vote to protect our rights in future elections. What does affect me is that there is 3 times as much transphobia as homophobia. What does affect me is that trans* people have a nationwide 1-in-12 murder rate. I am white, and transmasculine, and live in a liberal area, and that probably cuts it down to at least 1-in-25 for me, but that’s still too much for anyone.
And none of these things have anything whatsoever to do with the repeal of DOMA. Nada. Nullus.
And I’m not sure how much longer I can take it. At noon this morning, just awake, sitting on my windowseat and reading the joyous news articles, I realized the full impact of how irrelevant the rulings actually are. I realized that I would probably have to spend the rest of my life fighting for my basic human rights. And that is something nobody should have to do.
And the weight of that realization broke something inside my head. All I want to do is curl up in a very small space and not move for several hours or days. It almost feels like I can’t move, like I’m paralyzed. I know it’s just another mood swing, that if I watch a movie for a few hours I’ll be good to go to work tonight. But what I know now is that I just want to get the hell out of this country. America is probably not the land of opportunity for me. I’ll see what’s happened in a couple years before I make a final decision, but for now, I’m Googling “classics grad schools in canada.”