Up until now here in Sacramento, I haven’t talked about being transgender. It’s amazing how differently people want to treat you, often even those you thought you could trust as a friend, when they find out you are transgender. Suddenly they don’t want to recognize your current gender, and instead only want to be obsessed with what your biological gender was from birth.
But I can’t hold back on talking about it anymore, with Trump having decreed a ban of all those who are transgender in the military (I am a veteran of the U.S. Air Force Security Police 1982 to 1988), and with all the disgusting, hateful racism and homophobic disgraceful behavior we are witnessing in our nation, primarily from emboldened Trump supporters, (sadly including even my own evangelical Christian mother in Florida). Talking about it becomes a spotlight of truth on such shameful, albeit often subtle hate, even routinely in the ‘name of Jesus’ by many who call themselves Christians.
So people can choose to think of me differently now all they want, that’s their own ignorant issue anyway…But I’ve reached the point where, in trying to lead by example the best way I know how, I feel an obligation to my diverse fellow man to show everything about myself in that effort. In doing so, I’m counting on at least a handful of you to have my back.
Let me just say that my readers would not believe how badly I have been treated in my life with consistently undermining and betrayal type behavior. It routinely comes from both people I thought were friends, and from some employers who used mind blowing dishonesty, passive aggression and underhanded methods, due to disdain of my being transgender when I was in law enforcement.
But it has also continued since then with the same behavior no matter how well my music is received by audiences at establishments where I play. What often happens involves some bigoted individual. convinced that they have picked up on it, and secretively lobbying the owner/manager about whether or not they really think a “he/she” is what they want entertaining for their customers. Forget the fact that no one knew, and it wasn’t an issue until they decided to make it one.
As I mentioned above, I never say a word about it. I have always kept it a secret until now. But there’s always that person at an establishment where I audition, who thinks they have it figured out, though they don’t know for certain. And they think it is their job to ‘educate’ the owner and other customers that this is ‘weird’ and then the bigotry I have encountered multiple times here in Sacramento is OFF TO THE RACES!
And on those occasions, when I try to follow up with the management/owner after the success I always have with their customers from my initial musical performance, most often the management goes dark on me, and won’t communicate, return my emails or phone calls, etc.
And when the above is combined with an effort to lead by example by taking a stand against this Trump bigotry and corruption, sometimes it’s not necessarily just the transgender issue that causes those I should be able to trust not to have my back.
For example, last week I opened up on social media and revealed the painful recent experience of a local brewery owner I thought I could confide in, who in similar fashion chose to turn on me and my music. In this case the rejection oddly occurred when I confided to them that I had become the target of very hateful and vulgar racist and homophobic slurs from self described Trump supporters online and by email.
I explained the specific vulgar and hateful nature of the attacks, calling me an “N-lover”, a “fag”, calling me a man instead of a woman, and also referring to me as a “c#nt”…I also explained that these attacks came as a hate-speech result toward my policy of choosing not to recruit Trump supporters for a very PRIVATE, ‘by invitation’ Progressive band group in Sacramento that I created and lead. This had absolutely nothing to do with what I was doing with my solo act for this brewery.
It was completely separate and private, and no ‘politics’ was involved whatsoever in my entertainment for their establishment. When you are recruiting for a private band group, you have every right, not to mention it is very important to selectively recruit the kind of character you believe will be a productive asset, and not to recruit the kind you believe will create low character negativity.
But the bottom line is that my private band group and our related membership standards had zero to do with the completely separate solo act entertainment I was providing for this brewery. However, the nature of the personal attacks I was receiving were such that I felt it was best that I let this individual know just in case one of these hateful individuals were to try to undermine what I was doing.
At least one or two of their hostile posts on Craigslist had indicated that they had an interest in ‘getting a group of like minded folks together for a “field trip” to where I was performing’. When I saw that, I felt that it was important to let those I was performing for know, and I was sure they would simply have my back in the face of such hate speech as described in detail above. The opposite ended up being the case.
It is very hard to write about things that happen to you like this, because when you do so, you are making yourself an even larger target…You make yourself very vulnerable to those who would twist the situation and seek to attack even more. But I wanted to write about it because I felt any such responses would stand on their own as perfect examples of the problem.
Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. Two individuals’ responses came rather quickly to what I shared, trying to say that those hateful attacks calling me a “N-lover”, “fag”, referring to me as a man who is “swinging my d#ck”, and calling me a “c#nt”…All of that was self created by me…that I was at fault for having created such “drama”, and that it was perfectly understandable for a Sacramento business owner to feel they should get rid of me for bringing such self created “unnecessary baggage” to their enterprise.
I have to say it was a bit sad for me to see that not ONE of my ‘friends’ on social media who had responded to my very personal post, and who would have been alerted of these individuals ugly comments…not one of them chose to come to my defense to those individuals’ comments. It was entirely left to me to deal with them.
When you are transgender and trying to live by example, you need others to have your back more than ever. Honestly, a hallmark of my life experience has been a chronic, unusual lack of being able to count on that.
Of course those comments I am referring to above were sad and cowardly, and did not hold water for multiple reasons, which I will briefly address here…
First, regarding the comment that business and profit TRUMP any concern involving someone like myself invited to work there who becomes the target of racist or homophobic hate-speech…
That ‘profit motive’ view is absolutely not reflected in the OPPOSITE moral, principled example recently set by every major corporate CEO on Trump’s “Manufacturing Council”. Every one of them QUIT as a result of Trump’s response to what we witnessed in Charlottesville, VA. They realized doing the right thing WAS more important than losing a few of those kind of customers, and appealing to those who would be bigoted and homophobic in the name of Donald Trump.
Secondly, this ‘business and profit excuse’ is made even more of a joke by the fact that this particular brewery that treated me in such a fashion is located in East Sacramento. It was recently reported all over the TV news and the Sacramento Bee that there had been a large outcry from the East Sacramento community, expressing a severe lack of support for the PREVIOUS owners of this brewery, precisely because of public comments they allegedly made that were very PRO Trump.
This news coverage reported that those pro Trump social media postings had been widely perceived by many in the community as very bigoted and hateful toward immigrants and minority groups. (Google 12 Rounds Brewery and Sacramento Bee and you will find these recent news stories both from the newspaper and local network news stations)
So IRONICALLY, that being the case, had this brewery’s new owners simply stood by me and had my back in light of the very racist and homophobic attacks I had confided to them that I was receiving from other self described Pro Trump individuals, it appears they would have been all the more EMBRACED by that concerned East Sacramento customer base they serve.
Back to those two who presumed to come at me with this off base line of criticism…At least one of them answered my question about whether they were a Trump supporter by swearing that they were not, and then doubling down on their criticism of my stand, and their belief that I deserved what I got for it. One of their quotes was ‘you should have kept your mouth shut and you’d still have a gig’. (In other words, I should not have confided to the owners of this brewery where I had been invited to entertain regularly, that I was being subjected to such racist and homophobic attacks from self identified Trump supporters)
As I said above, these kind of comments are a perfect example of the problem that we must change in our communities and in our nation right now. There is a moral problem that has nothing to do with religion – It is a growing lack of principles and courage that are not derived from profit motive, but from the higher priority of “The Golden Rule”.
Beyond just the sick, bigoted low character displayed nationwide by Trump supporters, we have another serious problem that requires just as much of a spotlight…And that is a growing LACK of being willing to let one’s voice be heard in even the smallest public way UNLESS there’s no personal risk involved, by a lot of people who otherwise self identify themselves as NOT being Trump supporters.
So listen closely here because this is important…If that describes you, then you are just as much a part of this national Trump disgrace as if you had been FIRST IN LINE with your “Make America WHITE Again” ball cap to vote for him last November.
“COURAGE” or “PRETENTIOUSNESS”
A quick question in closing: How can we think our beliefs are sincere and ‘courageous’ if number one, we don’t speak up for others directly to those who wrong them when we witness it?…And number two, how can we think our beliefs are sincere and ‘courageous,’ if speaking up in such real life situations DOES NOT involve even the slightest amount of going out on a limb of any kind, or having anything whatsoever to lose?
If you only speak up for others when you survey the situation and determine that you personally don’t have anything to lose, that is NOT sincere, and it certainly is not any kind of courage…It is actually the textbook definition of ‘fake’. From personal experience, I can tell you that there is an incredible abundance of that kind of fakeness going on presently, especially from many on the Left, in our ‘image obsessed’ social media culture.
Unless we are willing to put some degree of ‘risk’ behind what we claim to be on social media, and unless we are willing to directly address wrongness TO THOSE engaging in it, and let them know we see that it is wrong, then we are far from ‘courageous’ or sincere…We are actually even beyond fake…We’re nothing but hypocrites, making noise and spinning our fancy wheels, all while we are hiding behind a social media pretentious image.
But the ‘rubber meets the road’ OUTSIDE of social media in real life, when we see and witness wrong behavior toward others, and instead of avoiding a conflict or looking the other way, we are compelled to act on our values and principles, and say something to those creating that wrong…Especially when we don’t have anything to gain from doing so.
(Connie Bryan is a writer in Sacramento, and host of “The Connie Bryan Show” on Access Sacramento’s Comcast channel 17…Check out all of her material as well as recent episodes of the talk show on her blog and website at www.conniebryan.com)