I Don’t Want No Peace, I Need Equal Rights and Justice

Equal Rights and Justice

The annual parade of trans genocide legislation is ramping up all around us again for a fresh new year of hate.

Last year Christians whose hearts virtually overflow with hatred for their fellow humans passed 85 hate laws targeting trans and queer people. But mostly trans people. “Only” 85 passed, but 587 were proposed. This year, the hate train is rolling out of the station faster than ever, with 273 anti-trans hate bills filed in the first 10 days of the year.

They can’t hate us fast enough. Their hatred is unquenchable. Whoever said, “There’s no hate like Christian love,” said it all.

The past few years have made equality and human rights a personal issue for me.

How fucked up is that?

What I mean to say is it seems pretty fucked up, doesn’t it? Like, “Come on, haven’t equality and human rights been a personal issue for you forever?”

Kind of.

I’ve always been a feminist and an advocate for, or ally to, oppressed people. I was a child in the 1960s, so social justice was baked into me by being alive during all that upheaval, war, chaos, and literal blood in the streets. Injustice and murder were there on television every day. Imagine your six, seven, or eight-year-old watching assassination after assassination and seeing scenes from the Vietnam War and dead soldiers every night. But that’s what we did. That was life in the 60s.

But I also got to witness some cool things, like the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the birth of women’s liberation, gay liberation, and ecology awareness. All by the time I was 10 years old.

The best I could be was aware. I was a child, after all. There weren’t any protest marches on the dirt road I lived on. But as I got older and was swept up in punk and Rasta ideology, I thought I could do more or be more. I thought I was more just by the benefit of being woke.

“Woke” is a beautiful and tremendous term, by the way. Proof of its power is in how many racists and misogynists hate the word. I wear it proudly, like “liberal,” “feminist,” and “transgender.”

So that was me, a woke young white person who thought they were nobler than everyone else somehow. But as I made my way out into the world, things began to happen to disabuse me of my smug superiority.

The first was traveling with a reggae band. I didn’t learn that I was looking at their struggle from the outside because Rastas sat me down and told me I was. They would never do that. I learned it by living and traveling with them and seeing firsthand how differently black and white people are treated. I always knew that was true intellectually, but suddenly, I could see it was true. I could feel the truth of it because it played out in front of me every day.

Second was when I realized, after leaving the band, that as much as I love reggae music, those weren’t my songs to sing. It was a difficult thing to come to grips with because life in the music world is different than life in the regular world. Black musicians and white musicians play together all the time. It’s music. It doesn’t matter who’s playing it.

But sometimes, it does.

In retrospect, I don’t think I had any business standing on a stage playing songs about Africa and Rastafari with black people from the Caribbean. Those were their songs. Those were their struggles. I could love and appreciate the culture, but I could never know the culture. It had always felt incongruous to me to see a white person playing in a reggae band. But there I was doing it myself. It wasn’t weird for me because I was different, right? (Insert your favorite eye roll emoji here.)

Part of me still holds the belief that music is music and musicians can play in any kind of group they’d like to form. But I just decided that for me, that no longer applies to any kind of music with deep emotional connections to black people, like reggae or the blues. I will listen, love, appreciate, and proselytize. That’s the part I can play.

Finally, as you might imagine, coming out as trans and beginning to transition shook off any remaining smugness. When I came out in 2020, it was difficult, but in 2024, it’s turned into something else. An existential threat.

Is that right? I should look it up. I think I know what it means, but I may not.

So, with the rise of the hypocrites and parasites that have made it their raison d’etre to legislate me out of existence (in order to please their loving God), the struggle for human rights has come home to me in a real way. Because now they’re my human rights. And the only time you can really understand a struggle is when your skin is in the game. When you have something to lose. Like your freedom, your identity, or your life.

I’m not comparing trans rights struggles to anyone else’s struggles. All our struggles are different, but all are calls for human rights. What I’m trying to point out is how fucked up everyday life is for everyone struggling for their rights. And it’s painful for me to admit that I didn’t understand the depths of our different struggles until I was dog paddling in them myself.

I’m here in safe (for now) California, watching, listening, and doing whatever I can. Which isn’t much, as most of the witch burning is happening in other states. But I watch and listen with new awareness and understanding of how serious it all is. How real it all is. Because it’s becoming clear that soon there could be no safe states, no safe countries. No safe world.

I always knew that. Now I feel it.

WRITTEN BY A HUMAN

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