2020 was supposed to be a definitive year for change; for progression, for growth, for the celebration of ‘good times’.  2019, a rollercoaster of a year, left many eagerly looking forward to the breath of fresh air that 2020 had to offer.  But sadly, 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride of its own.  

 

2020 brought the world to a crashing halt, and seemed to reveal 3 dangers that, as a black trans woman, I have to fight: Covid-19, state sanctioned violence, and black men.  

 

Covid-19

Covid-19 swept the world as an unprecedented pandemic that many haven’t seen in their lifetime.  The explosion of Covid-19 outbreaks across the world essentially shut down the globe; halting life as we knew it.  Most cities/countries were quarantined and either urging or restricting their residents to stay home and quarantine.  In the U.S., there has not been a national mandated shutdown or quarantine order; with our national government leaving it up to states to decide.  

 

While living in Texas (a red state), in Houston (a somewhat blue city), I see the push and pull of economic consumerism and money have value over people’s health and safety.  And being an “essential worker”, I was all too familiar with the tug-of-war.  

 

An “essential worker” was any worker that was deemed crucial in terms of public need.  These were professions, including nurses, doctors, grocery store workers, public transportation, public sanitation, etc., that were key to basic public service needs throughout the quarantine orders.  

 

What many people don’t know is that “staying home” and “quarantining” was a luxury some did not, and still do not have.  Many “essential workers”, such as myself, are members of marginalized communities who were not able to stay home safely and quarantine.  We did not get a break, and are oftentimes working in conditions that put our own health and lives at risk.  I work for a company who didn’t (and still doesn’t) force its customers to wear masks, and who more concerned with making money than actively protecting its employees and managing its often unruly crowds who don’t adhere to social distancing, or any of the public health practices.  As Covid-19 continues to have a stronghold over the world, being an essential worker leaves me overstressed, and often anxious and depressed.  

 

I’m just sick and tired… of this shit.

 

State-sanctioned violence

Being black in America has shown time and time again that, to this country, our bodies and our lives are expendable.  It’s unfortunate that in 2020, we are still seeing unprecedented murders and violence against black America.  While nothing has changed in the last several years, with the increased use of social media and technology, there is more access and visibility to these heinous acts of violence.  We are able to capture police in realtime as they murder George Floyd, or a ‘Karen’ threatening to incite violence against a black man in Central Park.  

 

With the increasing police and state-sanctioned violence against black people, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement resurged; demanding change and justice for the slain black bodies.  Even as there were marches and protests across the world and more eyes on police departments and the white community who incites and provokes them as their main line of defense, police are still assaulting and still killing us.  

 

Long ago, I decided I couldn’t do it.  The ‘trauma porn’ of black people being murdered that was flooding my timeline; I said I couldn’t watch it.  It was too much; especially because people felt the need to reshare these graphic images with no ill-will or concern for what trauma they can cause.  

 

We live in a social media age where people are so desensitized to imagery because of the amount of content and access they have.  Countless videos and pictures are reshared and reposted of black bodies being slain and murdered.  While it is imperative to know these acts are going on, we have to wonder what exactly this is doing to us mentally.  Personally, it is exhausting, draining, and at times, too much to take.  There are days I try to avoid social media and most forms of media, because there are days when… I am just sick and tired of seeing murdered black bodies on my timeline.  

 

Black Men 

I often wonder If I believe in black love between black men and black trans women anymore.  While black trans women often put cisgender, heterosexual black men on a pedestal to worship, these same men are publicly ridiculing, humiliating, shaming, assaulting, and even murdering the same black trans women that they choose to love in private.  While many like to think that these assaults and murders are by strangers or random, at least 70% of all assaults/murders are by an intimate partner, or a cis male the women were acquainted with.  

 

Black trans women, even during the quarantining of the Covid-19 pandemic, are still being murdered at unprecedented rates.  Just within this past month of Pride, there have been five known murders of black trans women (Riah Milton, Dominique Fells, Brayla Stone, Merci Mack, and Tatiana Hall) 

 

As a black trans woman who has had to endure rape and numerous assaults, it is traumatizing and triggering, to say the least.  These murders make me fearful and anxious to even interact with cis black men, let alone be intimate with them.  As a woman who lives alone, I have to take extra precaution, and even look at where I’m going, routes I take; to ensure my safety.  It is a heightened level of anxiety that many don’t have to deal with. The heightened anxiety often triggers my PTSD and leads to me to further isolation as a form of protection.  

 

Living in Texas, the epicenter of murders of black trans women, it’s often frightening to know that any wrong interaction with a black male could lead to my own murder.  It’s exhausting, it’s tiring, and I’m tired.  

 

I’m tired of it all.