But this was the one that broke the transwoman’s back, the latest in a series of actions our man has put in place solely to make the lives of people like me more miserable. Last Wednesday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development introduced a policy to allow federally funded homeless shelters to deny services to trans Americans. This, on the heels of yet another proposal earlier this month that would allow health care workers to refuse to help trans patients on religious grounds.
Why, I wondered, is the existence of transgender people so unbearable that Republicans are bending heaven and earth to make our lives harder? Is it really so unthinkable that this marginalized, endangered, maligned group of Americans might look to the most powerful man in the world to protect them — as, of course, Donald Trump promised during the campaign he would do?
Well, yes, I suppose it is unthinkable. But that’s not why I wept.
I also know full well that most people — including many of my fellow progressives — will simply shrug at this latest development, and dismiss the needs of my community as an obscure “boutique issue.” Bill Maher, bless his heart, once described my humanity as a “college campus pet peeve.” For years now, various progressive writers have raised all sorts of obscure and saucy arguments about trans identity and feminist discourse, all of which have served to divide us, one from another, just as the Christian right had planned all along.
I know that trans rights are not at the top of many progressives’ list of urgent concerns, and that some second-wave feminists secretly, or not so secretly, aren’t especially worried about the danger we’re in.
But that’s not why I wept.
What came to mind, in fact, was a poem by William Butler Yeats, “September 1913,” a work that reflected on the struggles of the Irish revolution. “Was it for this,” Yeats wrote, “the wild geese spread the grey wing upon the tide?” Each of the stanzas concludes, “Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone, it’s with O’Leary in the grave.”