Lives in the balance

Posted on 17 May 2016 at 2:42pm

Death of local trans musician makes the cost of hate obvious

Leslie McMurrayBack in 1986, Jackson Browne released an anti-war song called “Lives In The Balance.” The lyrics of that 30-year-old song ring just as true today in the fight for transgender equality as they did in ’86 when the Iran-Contra scandal was coming to light: Lives are in the balance and people are dying.

The last couple of weeks have been pretty insane. My Facebook feed has been relentless with reminders that I am transgender and there are people in power and in pulpits that don’t want me to exist.

Just in the past few weeks:

• North Carolina passed HB2 restricting transgender bathroom rights.

• Pay Pal, Bank of America and dozens of other companies came out in vocal support of trans people and opposing HB2.

• Calls to the Trans Lifeline nearly doubled after HB2 passed. (If you are in crisis, there is help. Please please please call 877-565-8860.)

• Oxford, Ala. passed a local ordinance similar to HB2.

• Jim Pruitt, mayor of Rockwall, Texas tried to get a discriminatory ordinance passed. It failed. I was asked to appear on WFAA Channel 8 news to talk about the hearing in Rockwall there.

• Target reiterated its policy in support of trans people.

• The extreme Christian fringe nutjobs announced a boycott of Target and sent men into women’s restrooms to try and make a point. They failed. The American Family Association — listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — initiated this boycott.

• The Fort Worth Independent School District reiterated its policy of inclusion and respect for all students and issued guidelines to aid in following this already-existing policy.

• I appeared on radio in Sacramento, Calif. to talk about the issue of trans women and which bathroom they should use.

• Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick descends on Fort Worth for a hastily-thrown-together press conference to demand the resignation of FWISD Superintendent Kent Scribner over his support of equality.

• Dan Patrick speaks at the GOP convention in Dallas and goes on a media blitz to declare that trans students (who make up 0.3 percent of the population) using the bathroom is the biggest issue facing Texas schools.

• Similar legislation restricting access to sex-segregated facilities is pending in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin. Such bills have failed in Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota and Virginia.

And then, on Friday, May 13, trans woman Krissy Arnold takes her own life. Krissy played bass in a Dallas band called Mercury Rocket. I didn’t know her but her death affected me deeply.

Ordinarily, when someone commits suicide, it leaves those left behind wondering why. But in Krissy’s case, I don’t think I need to ask. I think I know.

I don’t think I’ve met a trans person yet that hasn’t at least seriously considered suicide — if not actually attempted it. Including me.

Look, it’s not that we are unstable; most trans people I know are unbelievably strong. You have to be. Being transgender is hard, unnecessarily so. Even under the best conditions, it’s difficult, painful and expensive.

For those who have had their friends or family turn away, it can be more than a person can take. The feelings of hopelessness can be overwhelming. When you are bullied or government leaders propose laws to restrict your freedom or religious groups tell you that you are sick and an abomination, it can push you to the brink.

I’m fighting depression myself right now. I admit it; this is hard to take. There is no break. It’s relentless.

Even those who mean well all want to talk about where I go to the bathroom and what I think about this law or that, or what I think about Dan Patrick telling people that trans women are a danger or threat to women and children.

I’m exhausted. I am tired of fighting for this most basic human right. I’m tired of defending myself and my brothers and sisters who have done nothing wrong yet are the targets of so much hate.

Krissy, I wish I had known you. I wish I could have been there for you. Most of all, I wish you were still with us. We need you. Your life was worth living.

I feel so heartbroken that people who are running for office don’t understand that their words can hurt. That their words can kill.

I wish that people who call themselves “Christians” would follow the words of Christ and love each other rather than trying to destroy God’s children —  like you, Krissy.

I cried when I heard you died. I cried long and hard, inconsolable tears. I mourn your loss and the loss of others like you — some dying at their own hand, and others being taken from us in violent murder.

My insides are in knots.

I am encouraged by the support of those who oppose HB2 — from Bruce Springsteen to the NCAA, Equality Texas and the HRC, my friends who are cis-gender who know me, love me and want to witness equality in my lifetime.

I really believe that we are on the right side of history and we will eventually prevail.

But as in any war, there will be casualties. And they will be tragic.

We aren’t just statistics. We aren’t men in dresses. We aren’t a danger to women and children.

We are complex, living, breathing, creative, loving people with families. We deserve nothing less than full equality. We know who we are, we just wish that you’d get to know us.

Disagree if you want, but please, be civil. Your hatred is killing us.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com

Comments (powered by FaceBook)