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LGBTQ in the Days of #45

The FBI published data last year that hate crimes were on the rise. According to their report entitled, 2016 Hate Crime Statistics, there were roughly 1400 hate crimes directed toward the LGBTQ community defined as crimes perpetrated due to sexual orientation or gender identification. Now in the grand scheme of our population 1400 may not sound like a lot. But those are 1400 individuals who were attacked and/or assaulted and/or murdered due to their sexual orientation or gender identification. That is 1400 too many.

That is also a 5% increase from 2015.

When this was published in 2017 the rate of murder of transgender individuals was already increased from the previous year.

I believe the actual number of hate crimes is higher, but many are not reported.

I personally don’t think it’s a coincidence that there is an increase in hate crimes toward the LGBT community after we elected officials who are openly anti-LGBT.

In my clinical practice I’ve heard many individual’s stories of discrimination and being victim to assaults due to sexual orientation or gender identification. I’ve heard from clients and in my own personal life that they have been spit on, punched, thrown against walls, jeered, followed, etc. I’ve yet to meet some one who has reported any of these experiences to the authorities.

I’ve met people who have come away with black eyes and broken bones or dislocated joints, and they have not reported these crimes. I’ve actually never met someone who has pressed charges. This is why I think this is a gross underestimation of actual hate crimes.

The saddest stories are those where the perpetrator is a family member who reacts with violence when their child comes out to them. I have spoken to individuals who have walked away with broken bones after coming out to their parents.

This happens in the United States. Not just in the South. But also in the Northeast. It happens in towns and homes right next door to you.

I’ve been questioned by transgender clients in the past year about what my medical record will say and who it could be released to. They have said they live in fear of our new administration and they don’t want to be put on a list somewhere by the government.

I thought it was cool when my medical record system added gender identification as an option. But to my clients it is a vulnerability.

The Queer community feels unsafe. I see and hear it daily.

Nothing will change this uncertainty and fear unless we vote. Vote in the 2018 elections. Vote in the 2020 elections.

Don’t turn a blind eye to the hatred fostered by this administration. It is real, we are feeling it, and it hurts.

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“I’m a good person” maybe.

I love working in psychiatry. I am enlightened in so many ways every day. Recently a patient said to me, “I’m really a good person. You know, I am heterosexual, I had kids, I worked, I did what I was supposed to do.” The litany went on but I was still stuck at her first statement. I am always being exposed to viewpoints that completely go against my own and then I have to remain totally objective and unaffected.

I had to continue my interview with that patient as if I was not homosexual. As if her statement that her being a good person by being heterosexual hadn’t just sent my brain into a tailspin. That takes some self control and an amazing poker face. I’m happy to say I’ve mastered both…in that particular situation. In other facets of my life there is no poker face. People who know me well can attest to that.

There is SO much negativity in the news about the LGBT community lately. I mean since November 2016 really. Because we have an administration who apparently thinks the death penalty is okay for all us gays. Fuck you very much. But anyway, not only am I accosted by anti-LGBT news on my Facebook and WordPress feed but also in my work. Because in case people haven’t notice, the LGBT community has never tried to not care for others who are straight. We’ve never turned away people from our businesses because they are straight. We are an eclectic, diverse, but overall rather accepting community.

I continued my job in that moment with that patient as if what they said made no difference to me. I provided the same care to that patient that I provided to all twenty-five of my patients that day. It’s only after work that I let that statement sink in and resonate with me. It brought up some stuff.

The one time I met my wife’s mother she preached a lot about religion. She asked at one point how my moral compass was guided. Not those words but same message. I told her that I follow the laws of our community and I try and be a good person. She started talking over me and said something like “Yes so you try and be a good person just like most of the people in society.” But in a rather condescending like “Poor you, you actually don’t know what you are talking about and are actually far beneath me in terms of morality” type of tone. That didn’t sit well with me. Obviously, because I still remember it almost eight years later.

It irks me that because I am married to a woman my morality and ethics are questioned by others. It angers me that the choice of my life partner apparently has bearing on what kind of a person I am. Because I am married to a woman I have to prove that I am a good person?

I’m a firm believer in “actions speak.” It’s a philosophy that to me is raw and honest and that’s how I roll.

So what makes a good person? Apparently not sleeping with the same gender so I’m already off the list. Perhaps owning a gun? I’m definitely out then. Being white? That’s one check in my column. Protesting birth control and abortion? Yeah screw that.

So by the #45’s rules I’m a bad perhaps even “nasty” woman.

I’m cool with that.

If being bad means I provide comprehensive care to all my patients regardless of their religious beliefs then I’m there. If being a bad person means being open to all religions, all ethnicities, and all genders (pre and post op)…then I’m horrible. I never want to own a gun. I never want an abortion but should I need one I better be able to get one. And I’m not divorcing my wife anytime soon, but I’ll fight to the death for my right to marry and/or divorce her.

There’s this private practice I know of that advertises itself as being “transgender owned”. I thought that was weird at first. Because I was like why does it matter? But now I get it. I opened my own practice with a business partner so it’s partially lesbian owned. And I’m damned proud of it. It’s important for the LGBT community to own businesses, to work in our community, to be accepting when others are not. To continue living our lives, to not move to Canada but to move to freaking Alabama.

I personally will not go silently into the night. I’m going to grow my business to be a huge success. And maybe #45 will do one freaking thing he said during his campaign and lower taxes for small businesses (there’s an automatic federal 30% business tax off our profits) and then he will be doing this nasty lesbian woman a big freaking favor. And I will happily hold a sign standing outside the white house wearing a nasty woman shirt with a big thank-you sign while holding up my middle finger (seriously if that happens I will post the picture and write a blog post. That’s a promise and you know I take my promises seriously).

It’s hard to live in today’s world as a lesbian trying to work, raise children, pay taxes, and “live the dream” seeing the constant chipping away of our rights by the government and not feel anger. I am angry that Obama and Clinton haven’t come forward with harsh words for our current administration. We need leaders and voices. Thank-you Jimmy Fallon. I’m angry the democrats in congress and the senate haven’t been more forthright in their defense of us. I’m angry that we are such a freaking polite society that people are sitting back and watching the LGBT community victimized on a daily basis. I’m angry that I’m not a bad person yet I’m being categorized as such because I fell in love.

My heart also breaks for all the younger LGBT individuals whose entrance into our community is marred by hatred. You are not bad people. You are beautiful. And I’m standing next to you.

 

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LGBT Politics

I’ve tried to not comment on politics in this blog because they cause me to feel ill. But in the last 24 hours there have been some major developments in terms of anti-LGBT legislation/executive orders (aka tweets) which have made it impossible for me to focus on anything else.

The first time I really engaged with politics I was 19. I got on a bus by myself with strangers. We drove overnight straight through to Washington D.C. I attended the March for Women’s Lives. It was during the Bush administration. Now personally, after being pregnant, I could not have an abortion. Like ever. But I will die defending my right to make that choice. Because it’s my own choice and no one else’s. I have met and treated women who have history of abortions and I’ve seen it cause heartache and pain. I’ve also seen it allow a woman to live.

I make no judgements about other people’s choices. Because again, they are not my choices. Hilary Clinton spoke at that march, among many other people. She was inspiring. I was so young, and naive, and hopeful. I took a stand for something important to me at a young age with no support from anyone. I look back and I admire that bravery.

Flashforward. I married a woman.

Then our current administration came to power in the wake of Pulse. I have written about how Pulse affected my life already, so I won’t rehash it.

There are many ways politics directly influenced my life and my life decisions. The federal recognition of gay marriage not only made me feel comfortable in my own country because it finally recognized my family, but it made my taxes a hell of a lot easier to file every year. The length and the lack of paid time I received for my maternity leave is based out of laws. Our decision to proceed with a second parent adoption even though my wife and I are both on the birth certificates was due to a pending legal case in another state. Thus far the lesbians are losing and the anonymous sperm donor is winning. Just an fyi. Thanks Mississippi.

Having a white house that is full of anti-LGBT people is terrifying. Being a minority on a daily basis is already fear-inducing, but add in people who are in charge of our country who actively hate us and put forth legislation, statements, and tweets that put us down is just fucking alarming. The way the media and social media works today means there’s never a break. I am always inundated with how the new politicians in the white house are kicking the LGBT population today. It creates stress today and fear for tomorrow. I don’t like fear. It pisses me off. I am angry that I live in a country that nominated two people who inspire fear in minorities. It’s not a good feeling to sit with.

So after we moved and after #45 I channeled 19 year old me who took a bus by herself to march for a cause that meant something to me. I decided to attend our new towns democratic committee meeting. I can’t complain about the property taxes here, and the legislation there unless I do something about it. Just like I came out as a provider after Pulse, I decided to come out as a democrat after #45. The town we moved to is represented by republicans. That makes me scared too, and again angry that it makes me scared. I’ve been reluctant to go to town halls with our republican state representatives because I don’t want to know their thoughts on LGBT rights. I just feel like I can’t take another blow. But that’s not fair, because they may be pro-LGBT rights just anti-fiscal irresponsibility or whatever it is Republicans are always going on about. Sorry. That sounds judgmental.

My first move was the Democrats. And it was the Slate meeting- I didn’t know what that even meant. But I do now because somehow my name ended up on the Slate. I’m running for something. I thought I was offering my name as a place holder, but then I was signing a paper saying I was running for some board of something. I’m sort of okay with it though because I figure I can’t be scared and angry and not do anything about it.

Some people are not into politics. As a minority you can’t avoid it. Laws and polices and Supreme Court decisions shape our lives. We live and breathe it on every level because we are scared. It’s like when you drive past a car accident, you don’t want to look and see the severed head but you just have to because you can’t not look either. That’s how it is with me and the news. I don’t want to see the newest betrayal against us, but I also can’t bury my head in the sand. That’s not how I roll.

To all my LGBT folks, stay strong, we will get through this. To all my non-LGBT folks- step it up and help us. We need allies. To all the people working against us…you make me tired and sad and angry. Add hungry and that means you really don’t want to mess with me.

The democratic town committee meeting started with about forty of us standing and placing our hands on our hearts and reciting the pledge of allegiance. It was something I haven’t done since I was in high school. It felt weird but it was a moment of unity. And I needed to be reminded of the pledge.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

We must all stand for liberty and justice for all.