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I'm brown

TRIGGER WARNING: sexual assault mention, violence mention

I started writing this before August 3rd, the day of the El Paso mass shooting. I had an idea of what I wanted to say here but a lot changed after that day. 

I wanted to share my experience as a transmasculine person of color, who also happens to be an immigrant, living in a society that is constantly telling me I don’t belong and that often forgets about people like me when it comes to reproductive rights. 

I support and advocate for access to reproductive healthcare, even though I don’t think I’ll ever need an abortion. I’m married to a woman and I identify as straight man but this culture and society has a way to alienate people like me in the most violent and dangerous way. 

What if I ever become a victim of a sexual assault? What if I do need an abortion and the fact that I’m trans and immigrant makes it really hard for me to have access to it?

Those are some of the very hard and very real questions some people have to answer. I was a victim of sexual assault when I was a teen and fortunately, I didn’t need an abortion. I’ve been denied access to health care by health care providers that do not know how or do not want to treat a transgender person. 

I came here the “right way”. Do you really think that matters? I’m brown, that’s all they see. The reality of my existence is that as a transgender man, I often go unnoticed. I’m invisible to transphobia unless I announce my identity to the masses. Which I never do. 

I remember a conversation that happened during the first week of me working in my current work place. One of my supervisors was voicing his opinion on transgender people. If you are transgender or non-binary, you know these conversations that feel so casual to cisgender people can drive your anxiety levels to the roof. It’s people like me the ones you are talking about. 

“I think they all deserve to be shot.” 

My supervisor said those words like they were so normal. Like they weren't an act of violence themselves. If at any point I wanted to disclose my transgender identity with my co-workers to try to drive the conversation into a way to educate them, that thought completely evaporated after he said those words. They want me dead. 

I calmed myself down, trying to reassure myself that it wouldn’t happen to me. Nobody knows I’m trans and the few people that do, are educated and kind enough to know that’s not something they need to share with anyone else.

If you don’t know this already and even if you do, let me reiterate that YOU DON’T OUT PEOPLE. EVER.

Queer, trans and non-binary/non-conforming people of color constantly live in a state of fear. Our senses are always turned all the way up. We are always on survival mode. I can’t even update the stats on how many transgender women and non-comforming people of color have been killed so far because the numbers just keep growing. 

I must confess I lived in a bubble. I thought that even though I always had to be careful about not letting people know I’m trans, I always felt safe being brown in a predominantly brown community. You don’t know I’m an immigrant just by looking at me, right? I am safe here, right?

Wrong. The shooting of August 3rd was a wake up call. The shooter drove more than 10 hours to a border community, specifically to find and kill Latinx people. 22 people were murdered, 8 of whom were Mexican nationals. 

When it comes to reproductive rights, keep in mind that I can hide the fact that I’m trans to an extent. But I can’t hide the fact that I’m a person of color and if someone like me needs to travel for miles and miles to have access to an abortion, the travel alone could become the most traumatic experience of their life time. And that’s before they even go into the actual abortion procedure.

All this because we are brown. And that’s all they see. 

The author of this piece has been an active member of Team West Fund since 2017. He wishes to remain anonymous.

If you wish to donate to the victims of the August 3rd shooting, please click this link:

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