The war at home

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“As more fam­i­lies learn to cope af­ter their trans­gen­der loved one is ex­e­cuted, more ra­dio pro­grams will mock and mis­rep­re­sent trans­gen­der lives, more strangers will share eye rolls, head shakes and scoffs with other strangers when a clock­able T-girl walks by.”

Trans­gen­der women are be­ing lynched in Amer­ica, and peo­ple are making jokes about it on na­tion­ally syn­di­cated ra­dio shows. There may be no ropes in this mod­ern ver­sion of so­ci­etal-con­doned killing, but the lives and deaths of trans­gen­der women are as much a spec­ta­cle as the strange fruit that reg­u­larly hanged above mobs of white folks a lit­tle more than half a cen­tury ago, with vengeance be­ing an ac­cept­able de­fense for mur­der, and death be­ing a source of com­mu­nity mer­ri­ment.

“If one did that to me,” co­me­dian Lil Du­val said while ap­pear­ing on “The Break­fast Club,” a New York-based show that is broad­cast on­line and on black ra­dio sta­tions across the coun­try.

“If you had sex with [a trans­gen­der woman] and they didn’t re­veal they were a boy,” host Char­la­m­agne Tha God clar­i­fied for lis­ten­ers.

“And they didn’t tell me,” Lil Du­val con­tin­ued, “I’m gonna be so mad I’m probably gonna want to kill them.”

The in-stu­dio cam­era shows Lil Du­val stick­ing out his tongue to punc­tu­ate his hu­mor, or for what­ever rea­son het­ero­sex­ual men thrust their tongues in the di­rec­tion of an­other man. While the laughs are a bit de­layed, the stu­dio soon erupts in ju­bi­lant big­otry.

“You might’ve al­ready slept with one and don’t know – you in At­lanta now,” Char­la­m­agne joked, hon­or­ing the con­spir­acy the­ory among many straight black folks that het­ero­sex­ual African-Amer­i­can men once ex­isted in At­lanta, but they, and a good num­ber of visi­tors since, were all tricked by trans­gen­der girls or turned out by DL gangs.

I’m cu­ri­ous what jokes Char­la­m­agne and Lil Du­val would per­form at the fu­neral of TeeTee Danger­field, a young transwoman in At­lanta who was mur­dered a few days af­ter “The Break­fast Club” got a hearty laugh about such killings. Danger­field was at least the 16th trans­gen­der woman mur­dered in the U.S. in 2017, and the sec­ond to be killed in Ge­or­gia in barely a month.

“Hear­ing my lit­tle cousin is no longer here has just crushed my soul,” one of Danger­field’s rel­a­tives wrote on Face­book. “I can’t even find the words to ex­press the hurt I have right now.”

“I just can’t stop think­ing about my cousin,” wrote an­other. “What a beau­ti­ful soul.”

As more fam­i­lies learn to cope af­ter their trans­gen­der loved one is ex­e­cuted, more ra­dio pro­grams will mock and mis­rep­re­sent trans­gen­der lives, more strangers will share eye rolls, head shakes and scoffs with other strangers when a clock­able T-girl walks by.

What is the world coming to, their ex­pres­sions say to each other. Back in the day …

And of course “back in the day” al­most al­ways means aw­ful things for the mi­nor­ity group be­ing dis­cussed, but it also means yes­ter­day and last week for trans­gen­der Amer­i­cans.

Trans­gen­der sol­diers have of­fered their ser­vice and their lives for the pro­tec­tion of this coun­try, and their com­man­der in chief has told them their offering is worth noth­ing, their ser­vice un­needed, “in any ca­pac­ity.” Like ev­ery other un­sober pro­posal Don­ald Trump has made thus far in his pres­i­den­tial ben­der, it seems doubt­ful he’ll be able to turn his trans­gen­der troop ban into mil­i­tary pol­icy, but his in­com­pe­tency does not soften his as­sault on trans­gen­der dig­nity.

Whether Trump al­lows trans­gen­der Amer­i­cans to go fight other coun­tries or not, the war on the home­front is on­go­ing, and the stakes just as life-or-death. Ryan Lee is an At­lanta writer.

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