by Harmony Moon Colangelo*
On October 16th, The Buckeye Flame published an article called ‘Alone: Confessions of a Conservative, Christian Trans Woman’ by Barbara Marie Minney. My first thought was “Cool… an autobiography about trying to extend an olive branch to non-conservative individuals by someone who doesn’t seem to care about any one of those people’s well being.” In fact, that was my first thought verbatim because this article started as a sizable rant about the content of said article on Facebook.
Ah yes, one of Facebook’s founding pillars–telling people you’ve never met that they are wrong and why. But this response isn’t a personal attack on the author personally, as much as it is a criticism of people like her or Caitlyn Jenner. These are women who spent almost a full lifetime taking advantage of the fiscal and societal benefits of living as an upper-middle class, straight, white, cis man. They have only transitioned later in life, but still feel as though they can speak for the trans community as a whole. In my experience, this type of person is very vocal and completely oblivious to how inapplicable their perspective is to at least 90% of other trans people.
Let’s examine this article from its three main points–being conservative, Christian, and trans.
The Republican party cannot—in any more obvious ways than they already do—express how badly they want to hobble and harm those under 40, especially if they are queer. (Not to mention POC, immigrants, and non-Christian religions)
I am thankful that The Buckeye Flame is a publication that will publish articles by all types and give voices to anyone who has something to say. That includes letting me seethe about this particular subject in 1,200 words or less. That said, I am confident that I am not the only person who genuinely does not care about the perspective of people who would relate to the kind of article I am criticizing.
Feeling obligated to “respect” someone who spent decades locking down a comfortable 401k, retirement plan, or any other pound of flesh that comes up through a system that only allowed them to achieve them because they were not out as trans is….a lot for me to choke down.
It’s not like myself and many other LGBTQ+ folx under 35 graduated high school and college into an economy and job market that gave them no hope for survival, or that the Republican party and fiscal Republicans my parents age or older take advantage of this like it’s a somehow an even more dystopian version of The Giver. That would be ridiculous!
Oftentimes when I bring up this rebuttal I am met with dismissal because the people I am criticizing insist that they know what’s best: because they are older, “wiser,” have a mortgage…or whatever. That doesn’t sound like someone who wants to extend an olive branch. That sounds like someone who wants you to shut up and “listen to your elders.”
Well, I came out at 18 in 2009, so I’ve been out as trans longer than the writer of that article. That makes me their elder and I think people like that need to stop only thinking of themselves.
The conservative Right is constantly pushing that the United States—a country with no official religion—is a Christian nation. I don’t care for religion, any of them, but the reality is that no matter what the actual teachings of the Bible itself say, in order to uphold those “good Christian values” many fundamental rights of LGBTQ+ folx are being attacked and will continue to be taken away.
There are murmurs that the Supreme Court may overturn marriage equality. Trump has already overturned anti-discrimination rulings for medical treatment of LGBTQ+ patients and most of the supporters of this decision view it as religious freedom and not the hypocrisy and cruelty that it is. Hell, Ohio’s largest healthcare provider has specific exclusion for “transsexual surgery or any treatment leading to or in connection with transsexual surgery” written into their coverage plan.
I don’t want to “find some mutual understanding and respect” with someone like this. What this article is telling me is that its author and people like them are siding with groups who actively want to harm them and other members of the queer community rather than actually listening to the community that they want to speak for in their own, extremely self centered way.
Barbara, you wanted a dialogue right? Well, you are ostracizing yourself from this community as much as they are doing it to you. I don’t know exactly what it means for churches to be preaching “progressive politics.” If I had to guess, it is probably Jesus’ heavily socialist messages about loving and helping everyone whether they are poor, sick, sex workers, and plenty of other groups that mainstream conservative politicians like to ignore from the Bible. But if you are being welcomed into one kind of church and shunned from another, then you probably shouldn’t be siding with the latter.
You need to understand that.
This isn’t WWI. You’re not a lone soldier in the trenches. This is a civil war where our entire country is in an ethics war with itself and you are passively choosing to be on the wrong side of it because you are stubborn.
If you can transition and change everything about how the world sees you, then you can at least try to change how you see the world rather than just saying “it is unreasonable to expect me to change my core values and views just because I am now a trans woman.” If you really want to bring people together, then you have to actually put in the work to do so and not just wistfully present a John Lennon-esque platitude saying “Imagine…”
I don’t hate Barbara’s article because it’s about being Christian or because it is taking the side of my drunk uncle ranting about politics every Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong: I’m also not thrilled about those things. What is frustrating about this article is that its soul is clearly rooted in writings by someone sitting in their high castle with ZERO concept of how privileged they truly are–that this is the persecution that stung so sharply that they needed to write about it.
This is a post 2016 election and current pandemic world we are living in. There are so many more difficult and lonesome aspects of being a trans person in America these days. Cluelessly and proudly touting oneself as a conservative, Christian trans person weeks before an election where the Republican candidate wants to do everything is his power to fuck every-single-trans person over? Yeah, that will definitely mend that rift.
*Shortly after completing this article, Harmony’s eyes rolled so violently and excessively that it snapped her neck and she died. Let this be the legacy she leaves.
Harmony M. Colangelo “ticked off tr*nny” with a mission to dissect all facets of trans representation in media, be it earnest, outdated, or anywhere in between. She is also the author of A Year of Queer Cocktails, where her bartending and writing worlds collide for humorous, inclusive recipes that can teach anyone the basics of bartending.