“Armchair warriors often fail
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers clean up all details
Since daddy had to lie…”
~Don Henley, “The End of The Innocence”
I recently began organizing a rather intricate protest in Houston for transgender human rights. I’ve organized protests before, ones that were larger in scale, had more humans involved and made bigger impacts. I’ve organized protests that were smaller, made up of two or three humans. I’ve organized online protests, campaigns made of youth only, made of gays only, made of PWA’s* only. I’ve marched for intersectional feminism, for queer rights overall. I’ve done in-your-face fundraising and quiet passive fundraising.
I’ve been active for as long as I can remember, from the very minute I realized that I was marginalized. You see, my life’s philosophies really boil down to a couple essential points.
- We all will die.
- Pain is fleeting, if profound.
- We are all the same species.
- As such above, so are we all humans deserving of the chance to live as long as we can, as happy as we can be, however we like.
The milisecond I understood marginalization, I realized the conundrum of being human, yet not seen as such.
I’ve never been able to fathom dividing what humans can do what things. It makes no sense. And so, I began to fight.
The protest in Houston is one of the hardest I’ve ever had to organize, because it’s really 100% opposite to the way protests should work. Usually a protest is about fighting back insistently and unwaveringly against what essentially amounts to marginalization. For this protest, we have to sink ourselves to their level. We live in such a spoon-fed culture now that we’ve got to show people the minutae of their stupidity.
Transgender bathroom rights are insanely important. Transwomen who use men’s rooms face sexual assault, physical assault and murder. This isn’t okay. So the men, women, agender and nobinary people who are ENTERING bathrooms assigned to their GENITALIA and not their gender are BRAVE.
The people who are going into hostile territory deserve support.
And no one can be bothered to lift a finger.
The past few days my staff and I, along with my fellow leaders have been rolling out flyers, and crowdfunding links to get this off the ground. We’re organizing and planning, and working for the rights of all transgender people. The response to our campaigining… is nil.
My facebook feed is chock full of people who call themselves activists. Many of them truly are, and some will be standing(peeing?) with me in Houston. A larger number of them call themselves activists because they are angry, and “woke”. Blog posts are necessary, articles moreso, because we are living in an ever-increasingly cyber world, and spreading information is part of activism… but it’s not enough.
Yelling about inequality is not the same as doing something about it.
Every action, however small is still action. Reposting a link to someone’s top surgery fund is activism- people on your feed will see this, it gives visibility to our issues. Donating a couple of dollars to a worthy cause is activism, it’s helping from your corner of the world.
But being angry on a facebook feed, being “woke” is not activism. It helps, sure, to have more voices… but you have GOT to do more. GET UP from your couches. Run a phone-tree. Help organize events, plan protests. Learn how to make simple websites. THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN DO. I must be a special kind of person. When I see something needs doing, I roll up my sleeves and get to it. When I become part of something, I look around, see a space and fill it. I start campaigns for things and watch people fall over each other to “join”… and then stand around and do nothing. And don’t want to do anything when it’s given to them, either.
The key portion of the word activism is active. Be active. You don’t need to stand on a picket line… but you can design signs for the people on them.
Armchair activism is a plague on community organizing. It’s actually a hindrance. The more armchair warriors, the less real activists we have. We live in a bystander, sheeple culture where one human does what the other one does, and so on. Armchair warriors are encouraging people to do NOTHING.
We have got to break this cycle before it’s toxicity engulfs social activism entirely, because when I am gone, who can I trust will fight for my children?
Be strong, be loud, be insistent.
*PWA: Person(people)With AIDS.