CONTENT WARNING: LABELS
Being a person who can, with reasonable assurance of safety considering where in the world I live, admit to being transgender and queer means that I owe my liberation to the Stonewall riots, riots that took place a few months before I was born in 1969. Riots that were led by trans women of color, one of whom I had the pleasure of meeting when she spoke at the Pacific School of Religion early in 2013.
The details of my life, however, have made me wary of people who seek to solve problems with violence. Conservative minded persons have mocked me for this, saying that if it weren’t for fighters I would be speaking _____, and you can fill in the blank with the language of your choice (usually Russian, German, or Japanese), or that I’d still be a subject of the English crown. Liberal and progressive minded persons will mockingly remind me of Stonewall, and point to the #BlackLivesMatter protests.
Where does this leave me?
Violence, so far, has never served me well. In fact, it’s done quite the opposite. But even then, what is meant by the word “violence?” Generally, I think of physical violence first when I encounter this word. In fact, I’ve encountered many who will dismiss the idea of violence in words, despite the many voices who will also cry out against the use of “labels.” Emotional violence is often dismissed as well, depending on the circumstances. Likewise with sexual violence. But what of violence against inanimate objects and structures?
Being as I am uncomfortable with being on the receiving end of any type of violence, I’m also uncomfortable engaging in violence. That said, I would probably fight for my life if I or my loved ones were attacked. But again, I come back to the fact that violence hasn’t really helped me all that much in my life. I’m not particularly strong or fast or agile.
So, is it acceptable for me, a survivor of violence, to be uncomfortable with violence as an alleged tool for problem solving? Or, do I need to remain silent as my experiences differ from the experiences of others?