By: Lorelei Erisis*/TRT Columnist—
It’s one of the quirks of working for a monthly paper that often I need to step outside the constantly churning, immediately updating, 24-hour news cycle. This can be a little frustrating sometimes, but it can also be quite liberating. It often forces me to take the long view of news and events that affect the trans community specifically and LGBTQ+ folks generally.
Indeed, by the time you read this, America will have seen a Blue Wave. Or not. And Massachusetts will have successfully preserved vital protections for transgender people. Or not.
As a result of all this, I have recently been reflecting on the words contained in the original sales pitch for this country:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (people) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
In my heart, and in my life, trans people will always come first. And, I will always fight for my transgender community. As I will fight for my own life.
But unless we stand up for each other, work to protect all marginalized people, we will be lost. It’s not enough to work for trans equality or gay or lesbian or bi equality. We must also make a stand for people of color and for immigrants. We must fight for the poor and the oppressed everywhere, and especially in this country, and in our own communities.
For if we do not live in a society that takes care of the most vulnerable among us, then as a society, we will have failed. If we do not care for the hungry, the disadvantaged, the marginalized and those who have been set adrift, surely we will be judged to be lacking, unsuccessful, even harsh and cruel, by future histories.
So, we must keep fighting. The election is over. Now it’s time to take to the streets; march, shout, carry signs, call legislators. Above all, we need to organize.
Whoever has ended up in office, always remember, they work for us. We The People. _All_ the People. And if they are not doing their job, if they are failing to uphold the will of The People, we have prior instructions regarding what we should do about that.
Let me try and break down what I mean.
If you run a business and find out that your employees are using their positions to enrich themselves at the company’s expense, what would you do? If they are engaging in graft, theft, bribery, or just gross mismanagement, you are likely to demote or fire them. At the very least, you would keep a sharp eye on their work.
This country is no different. Except that we are all the owners of the company. And, even the employees who aren’t openly stealing from us, or moonlighting for other employers, well, a lot of them kind of suck at their jobs.
The “company” is in massive amounts of debt because the CEO is spending all his time golfing, and the rest of upper management is blowing the operating budget on fancy war toys and brutally violent games in other people’s yards.
The least among us are barely protected. People are hungry. People are sick and there’s barely anything left to buy groceries, never mind see the doctor.
Do you hear what I’m saying? The seas are rising. The climate is changing. Trans people are still being murdered in shocking numbers. Black people are still being shot simply for going about their lives. Immigrant children are being separated from their families, with little hope of reunification.
Refugees are streaming out of the ever-expanding war zones into any country that will take them. And, we are acting like it’s 1939 and, once again, we are turning away boatloads of Jewish people from our ports to go back and die in the Holocaust.
Not only are the rich getting richer, but the wealth of the small number at the top of the pile is so obscenely large as to be nearly incomprehensible to anyone but a mathematician. Even the great robber barons and oligarchs of the 19th and early 20th Centuries would likely be flabbergasted by the vast chasm between rich and, not just poor, but basically just everyone else.
The time for apathy is over. It is no longer enough to say, “I don’t follow politics.” It is simply not acceptable not to care. Refusal to participate can no longer be an option.
Live your lives, yes. Enjoy your families. Love your partners. Appreciate art and beauty and music and theater. These are all good things. Ultimate ends to all these struggles. Reasons to be alive.
But we also need to fight and stand up for each other. Together, there are more of us. Together, we are strong. Together, we have the power to fix that, which is broken.
United as one People, they are scared of us.
* Lorelei Erisis is an actor, activist, adventurer and pageant queen. Send your questions about trans issues, gender and sexuality to her at [email protected].
[This column was originally published on the November 8, 2018 issue of The Rainbow Times.]