It’s Pride Month, and my people are under attack.

I was born in 1992 in the thick of the AIDS epidemic in America and toddled through the ashes of the years of peak deaths, before anti-retroviral treatments became widely available. I came of age, personally and politically, during America’s first patchwork-style and then sweeping legalization of gay marriage in the mid-2010s.

And, let me tell you, when you’re a 15-year-old girl who has a crush on another teenage girl, it does something to you to watch grown adults debate whether or not you should be able to get married, and argue with a straight face (pun absolutely intended) that were they allow you to marry another woman, society would collapse. It taught me to distrust organized religion; it taught me to distrust older people even more than teenagers are already likely to; it taught me that politics are ruled by emotions rather than logic; and it taught me that you can’t take rights for granted. 

I remember Proposition 8 in California in 2008; I remember the gay marriage referendum in 2009, and the backstabbing feeling of betrayal when my home, my state, my wild and beautiful Maine, voted to ban gay marriage. Sure, we (rightly and smartly) reversed ourselves three years later. But while some people changed their minds, quite a few true believers didn’t. 2012 was only 11 years ago. The “No on 1” (2012 edition) folks are still around. Only they have changed their strategy.

As Cardi B once wisely put it in a song, “hating didn’t work, so they lied.” The vicious, persistent minority of right-wingers who don’t think LGBTQ people should live freely and openly in the United States of America realized they couldn’t just say their goals and beliefs straight out. So they lied, and made it about children.

My mom, who is usually pretty canny, was genuinely surprised that after the question of gay marriage was largely settled, the fundamentalists reloaded and took aim at transgender people instead. The ammunition they’re using is old and worn – “The homosexuals are after the children! The weird gender people are after the children!” – but they can be effective if you don’t know what to watch out for. On the internet, I’ve been called a groomer and told I’m in favor of mutilating children. If you aren’t up on the ins and outs of trans medicine, if you don’t know any transgender people personally, it’s easy to think, “Adults can do what they want but, well, what about the children,” and boom. Eliminationists have their foot in the door.  


The Christofascists will not stop at banning health care for transgender children. They are coming for adult care – they’ve said so. Terry Schilling, head of the right-wing American Principals Project, has said that the organization’s goal is to ban health care relating to gender transition for everyone. By starting with people under 18, Schilling said, they are merely “going where the consensus is.”

The Virginia-based American Principals Project made an offshoot called Maine Families First, which reportedly spent almost $1 million in the recent gubernatorial election. The barbarians aren’t at the gate; they’re in the mudroom. Bans are being pushed through in red states right now. Some are tied up in courts, some aren’t; all are making it harder for my transgender siblings to live. This is by design. And if any of my fellow cisgender queers think that by throwing the trans community under the bus, you’ll be left alone in peace with your marriage rights intact, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.  

I genuinely don’t care if people personally believe that LGBTQ people are an abomination unto the Lord. I care when organized political campaigns use the power of the state to take actions that hurt my community. I am pro-freedom. Unless you want the government telling you exactly how to be a man or woman, you should support the queer community. All our freedoms are connected. If the government can control what transgender people do with their bodies, then they can absolutely tell women what they can and can’t do. Maybe you don’t like the idea of hormone replacement therapy. Do you like being able to access birth control? 

Ever since I was a teenager, people have been asking me variants of the question: “Do you always have to be so political all the time, Victoria?”

Honestly, I wish I didn’t have to be. I would love to live in a world where gender and sexuality were treated more like hair color (you’ll notice that nobody cares what a 2,000-year-old book has to say about that). None of the queer people I know – and I know quite a few – particularly enjoy having to constantly show up at the State House, explain their identity and defend their existence to a bunch of random elected small-business owners.

Like every other American, we want to constantly show up at the State House to yell about taxes. But until a minority of regressives drop their efforts to get rid of us, I’m going to keep popping up like the world’s most annoying groundhog. And trust me, I’m impossible to get rid of; just ask my mom. Generations of queers before me suffered and died so that I could be who I am out loud today. The very least I can do is use my God-given talents to be annoyingly proud.

Sick of hearing about issues of gender identity and sexuality? There’s the door! Good-bi!

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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