Trans of Thought: Trans people need safe spaces

A few months ago I bought a gun and had myself certified for concealed carry. I never thought I would ever do such a thing. I’ve never been especially fond of guns and I’m still not. They used to scare the crap out of me.

However, I got one because I’m more scared of how Republican politicians and right-wing media are ginning up the extremist elements of their base with appeals to fear and fascism. We have seen direct physical threats to our local LGBTQIA institutions such as a recent Drag Queen Story Hour at The Center. On a national level, Paul Pelosi, the husband of Nancy Pelosi, was attacked by a hammer wielding, QAnon conspiracy spewing nutjob. It is not a coincidence that, despite police denials and loads of evidence to the contrary, the attack was spun to be a homosexual encounter gone wrong by some Republicans.

As a leader in a local LGBTQIA nonprofit, I have felt especially vulnerable. That said, my gun has only made me feel marginally safer because the greatest danger the trans community faces is legislative. Republicans have made trans people nationwide a wedge issue and filled every available media outlet with propaganda and misinformation. As a result, Republicans have faced minor resistance to their anti-trans agendas in any state legislatures they control. My anxiety has climbed sky high as I have watched state after state draft legislation that restricts the rights of trans people and even taken away our access to gender affirming medical care. It has been like standing on the deck of the Titanic with the lifeboats gone, watching it sink and knowing it is only a matter of time before we all drown. Helpless, even with a gun in hand.

Not to belabor the metaphor, but the state of Florida is sinking fast. Republicans started by banning trans girls from girls’ and women’s sports through to state college. Emboldened by the lack of damaging political backlash and how it rallied their base, they have quickened their pace. Since my last column in July, Republicans were successful in eliminating payments for gender-affirming care through state Medicaid for all trans people. Just before Halloween, the Florida Board of Medicine voted to advance a rule that would effectively eliminate all gender affirming care for trans people under 18. As you read this, the full board will have approved the rule change. The next step will be to eliminate gender affirming care for all trans people in the state.

Not surprisingly, my mental health has suffered terribly. It has taken me days to write this column because the emotional labor it requires is actually more than I can give at the moment. I write a few sentences or a paragraph and need to take a break, but I haven’t stopped completely because I think shining a light on what is going on is too important.

To get me through, I have been looking for safe spaces beyond my couch and have found precious few. Clubs and bars have traditionally been a place of refuge for gay people, but not for trans people. Case in point; on the Friday of the Florida Board of Medicine decision, I went to my local gay club. I was accosted for several minutes by a lesbian who I had blocked years ago on my social media after a long argument where she tried to justify that trans women should be banned from women’s sports. On this occasion, she told me she hadn’t intended to hurt me and that she loved me but didn’t apologize or indicate her views had changed. I took it as a version of “hate the sin but love the sinner.” That was followed by an incident two days later at the gay softball league. During the team wrap-up after a great win, one of the players started laughing and said, “My wife is so funny! She just sent me a text saying a tranny from Planned Parenthood just came around to remind us to vote!” I felt crushed, not just by the slur, but also by the fact she found it humorous at all.

The next few years are going to be tough with Republicans in control. More anti-trans legislation will be passed, so we need to do a better job of securing safe spaces for trans people. Blue states need to follow the lead of California and offer legal refuge to transgender youth. Gay spaces need to become explicit about their support and the kind of behavior that will and won’t be tolerated. It can’t just be assumed gay-safe means trans-safe. Trans people know it doesn’t. As individuals, we need to be there for each other. That means texts, hugs and a shoulder to cry on. It means speaking out when we encounter transphobia.

Especially in our community. To complete my softball story, one of the players on my team shouted “We don’t use that word anymore,” and my coach approached me to see if she wanted me to have her say a word to the player who had used the slur. I hadn’t expected any of that to happen and felt so relieved that I didn’t have to carry the emotional burden alone. That wouldn’t have happened a few years ago and I am grateful things are slowly getting better. That kind of support is the only way trans people like me will be able to survive the bad times to come.

Melody Maia Monet has her own trans lesbian themed YouTube channel at and is the vice president of the board for Come Out With Pride Orlando. To find more information on Pride, visit

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