They do this because they know we're winning.

A common refrain I've heard in the past is something like "why do you have to make being trans such a huge part of your identity?" At the moment, I think about being trans every day, because I have to.

4 min read

At this point I've started keeping a tally of how many times I've started one of these posts with some variation of oof. It's actually far less than I thought, which is reassuring - it feels like every meeting I've had in the last month has started the same way. Our faces pop into the zoom grid, everyone takes a breath, someone asks "so, how's everyone doing?" and there are a lot of nods. "Surviving" was my answer today.

A common refrain I've heard in the past is something like "why do you have to make being trans such a huge part of your identity?" or "not everything is about being trans" or "I don't care what you do, just get it out of my face".

The thing is, for a pretty extended period in recent years, being trans was such a small part of who I am. My lived experience fed into my work, and helped me help others, but outside of that? I really stopped thinking about it.

And then things changed - I'll give you three guesses what. Something changed in the last year or two that meant, all of a sudden, I was thinking about being trans a whole lot more. It became a much more active part of my identity again. This wasn't a conscious choice a made, nor even one I might necessarily have chosen - I quite enjoyed the time when my trans experience was one part of my experience, a part of a holistic whole.

At the moment, I think about being trans every day. I have to, because the anti-trans lobby* have made it necessary. At first, it was on a systemic level - my community's rights to access healthcare, to play sport, to learn about ourselves in school were under threat. And then, more recently, on a personal level - I've been named by a far-right fundamentalist Christian group as a trans activist. My friends have had their names and photos shared on social media. I've filed 105 reports and reports with Netsafe and met with Police and talked to lawyers and and and and - all of a sudden, I think about being trans every day because people want to cause me harm because of it.

I got to speak at the Christchurch Pride Walk for Support this year, something freshly-out me would have lost their mind over. Photo: Alex Che Noni

I'm proud of the work I do. I won't stop doing it until it's no longer necessary - until I do myself out of a job. But all this - it adds to the workload. On top of running a national training programme, I have to consider the safety of myself and my team and my friends working for the same cause. I have meeting after endless meeting, doing what we can to stem the tide of hatred. And I know that's precisely why the anti-trans lobby does this - it's a tactic referred to as letterbombing, an attempt to overwhelm people by adding to the workload in any way they can.

There are a lot of things I hold onto when the work gets hard. My communities, the people within them, the generations to come, the whānau I know who benefit from the mahi, the friends I work alongside, facing the same tide. But there's one thing I keep on coming back to, as well, something Kate Hannah of the Disinformation Project said at a conference recently: they do this because they know we're winning. They dig in so hard and fight so dirty because they know they're fighting a losing battle. They are so vastly outnumbered, so universally despised that they need to resort to disinformation and painting over rainbow crossings in the shadow of night, faces covered. They shout and they shout and they shout and no one listens because the world sees them for what they are - hate-filled fringe groups.

What sticks with me sometimes, when the work gets hard, is the numbers - the sheer number of people I've met in this mahi who want to do everything they can to support and treasure the rainbow people in their lives, whether it's their family members, their co-workers, their students, their patients - no matter who they are, the overwhelming majority of people in Aotearoa love us and treasure us. The anti-trans lobby - no matter their funding, no matter their international connections - are losing the fight because we are on the side of love #lovewins**

I love being trans, and I always will. I treasure the perspective and the opportunities it's given me. I love my communities and the people in them. I love the people I get to work alongside. I love the collective strength we have, and the care we show each other. Every day I feel held by the people I work alongside. I hope the anti-trans lobby, those people fighting tooth and nail from a place of fear and hatred, I hope that one day they feel the same.

And I'm looking forward to the day when my trans experience returns to being just one part of who I am. For those of you reading who'd rather the world stop talking about all this gender stuff - because let's be real, I know you are - all you have to do is stop. Isn't it exhausting? Isn't it so much more worthwhile to love and be loved?

Nevertheless, the mahi continues. Ka whawhai tonu mātou, ake ake ake.

*: I'm using this phrase really intentionally, and using it more and more - because that's what they are. We're facing an organised opposition who are acting strategically, have many links to well-funded international lobby groups, and their sole issue they care about is trans people. I don't know what else fits the definition more.

**: Maybe it's time to take this hashtag back?