The word which occurred to me several times throughout this week’s show is “hope”. In fact, Pride Month and the fight for LGBTQIA human rights overall is predicated on it. With the launch of Pose, we thought it was a good time to check the status of trans rights in the United States.
But Tiffany Cross of The Beat DC started out our show with a dose of last week’s reality. We focused on the seemingly disconnected and often inflammatory moves of President Trump from weighing in to the culture war with Roseanne Barr, to taxing Americans through the backdoor with a new round of international tariffs, to the “who knows if it’s happening” North Korea Summit. I don’t think that these actions are totally random. I think that he’s constantly trying to feed his base to keep them at the ready to vote in November. However, Tiffany pushed back on this somewhat arguing that Trump’s deeds are both “strategic and incompetent.” Either way, they are clearly improvisational and sometimes work spectacularly, other times they fail with equal effect. It’s all so confusing that many people I’ve spoken to in DC are increasingly pessimistic about the Democratic Party’s chances of taking back the House of Representatives not to mention the Senate. I think that their fears are unjustified at this stage. Tiffany took it even further saying that she’s optimistic about Democratic chances to take the entire Congress. Hope in the political sphere is what is needed right now.
Hope is also needed in this moment of political backlash against trans people in the United States. The sum total of the federal government’s moves against trans men and women, as well as gender non-conforming people, when it comes to health, education, and military service is undoubtedly discriminatory. This on top of new bathroom bills and laws introduced in state legislatures across the country to block LGBTQ people from adopting children. If that’s not enough a trans woman seeking asylum in America died while in the custody of the US Customs and Border Patrol. Adding to it all is the fact that The White House is even failing to recognize Pride Month.
But Raquel Willis told us how the Transgender Law Center (TLC) is using the power of the law to file lawsuits to protect transpeople. In fact, she said that there are several injunctions right now halting the Trump Administration from implementing its military service ban. Moreover, the TLC has started grassroots organizing activities with LGBTQI populations in vulnerable places around the country, such as Southerners on New Ground (SONG) in Atlanta. They have also started the Black Migrant Project to help the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable people, namely LGBTQIA immigrants of color. The hope embedded in Raquel’s work and that of the TLC is a great way to begin Pride.
Hope is keeping Caden Davis going as he awaits his fate in the courts along with thousands of other trans soldiers. Caden is a transman serving in the Florida National Guard. But Trump is trying to drag him and others, including those serving on the frontlines in active war zones, out of the military. Doing so makes no sense. 1 out of 5 transpeople has served in the military, a rate 2x high as the overall population. He said that when he heard the news of Trump’s ban than he sat on his couch at home “not knowing what to do” feeling “worthless.” However, he also said that he still shows up and does his job as a patriot when asked. Let’s hope that the Constitution that he’s sworn to protect actually does protects him.
And our last segment focused on the 1980s underground ball scene portrayed in FX’s Pose which is making its debut this June. Patrick Riley, the pop-culture guru and frequent guest on The Wendy Williams Show, stopped by to give us the real tea on the program. Pose focuses on the rise of the LGBTQIA ball scene with the simultaneous explosion of the Wall-Street-driven, hyper-wealth economy of 1987. The program is produced by the legendary Ryan Murphy and the iconic Janet Mock. But my question was whether this show was going to be yet another tired portrayal of transpeople as objects rather than complex human beings. Patrick gave me a gentle read telling me that Ryan and Janet were only going to produce something which enhanced real understanding of transpeople and that everything he’s seen of the show has been amazing. He also gave us the behind-the-scenes tea where apparently Ryan Murphy has told everyone that he’s running a show which will allow them to work anywhere in Hollywood and do anything. And we have to trust Patrick because he knows many of those working on the program. So the fact that there is a historic program with the largest transgender cast in history, which shows my community as we really are at a time of tremendous negativity, is one of the most hopeful things that I can think of.