Shooting Testosterone When Estrogen Is the Order of the Day reflections on the 2017 Women's March from Mikki del Monico
21 January 2017. The Women's March on Washington...and at least 673 other cities around the world.
Three hours behind the East Coast, I woke in the morning and took to the Internet in search of coverage. The first people I saw: Nona Hendryx joining Toshi Reagon (daughter of the iconic Sweet Honey in the Rock founder Bernice Johnson Reagon) and her band, BIGLovely, followed shortly thereafter by friend and executive director of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice J. Bob Alotta, doing what she has done for as long as I've known her: speak truth to power as a queer woman and stand strong for the pivotal word of the day, representation.
Toshi Reagon and Nona Hendryx at the Women's March on Washington
I kept watching, through all the WiFi disruptions and my stomach informing me it was time for breakfast. Saturday was going to be a day for the ages, but on a much more prosaic level, what it also meant was my weekly shot of testosterone. I thought, wow, is today really the day to do this, a day filled with Women's Marches and acres of estrogen around the world? Then I thought, yeah, today is exactly the day because in doing so, I acknowledge not only that I control my own body but that I stand with my sisters' right to do so as well. Today is exactly the day to do this because we need more men to call themselves feminists, because men of the world, we need to do better for the women in our lives...and for the women who aren't in our lives, for the women who voted for Trump and those who voted for Hillary and even for women who didn't vote at all, though I hope we can all agree that voting is crucial to a functioning democracy.
One man who understands just how much empowered women boost the quality of life for all of us is Mr. Van Jones. After hearing him say that opponents had bashed the idea of the #LoveArmy he began building last year, I had to see for myself what made the idea so terrifying. Was it their suggested resolutions: to stand with the most vulnerable? listen with empathy and expect to learn? or act out of love, not fear or hate? To me, energy spent hating on love is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine because the truth is, if we can't find a way to love each other, we're all going down together.
Love Trumps Hate, the Hillary Clinton campaign slogan, is in fact a call to action. Especially now, believing in the transformative power of love requires us to work through these miles of anger, frustration and disappointment armed with nothing more than compassion. It doesn't tell us not to have that anger, frustration, or disappointment, but it does call on all of us to turn those feelings around without harming others. As a man, that's another way to stand up for women and a teachable moment for our sons and brothers to learn respect for the other 50% of the human race.
People have said to me--and probably to many of you--just give him a chance, but I'm here to report that peaceful protest and resistance to hateful rhetoric don't mean we aren't giving Trump a chance. They mean we're holding him accountable as a civil servant; so I say, give democracy a chance and remember, Donald, that you now lead a country by the people, for the people. What makes us truly great in America is not an assimilation of kind or mind but the ability to assimilate our diverse needs into workable solutions within a government that shouldn't get to pick and choose who it's going to represent.
When I travel abroad using my newly gender-accurate US passport, I owe it to an administration that made sure I could do so. I also owe it to my LGBTQ sisters and brothers who fought for legal protection because we don't get to take for granted that we have the ear of the civil servants who make policies and change laws. We understand that although we all deserve a voice in D.C., we have to work--and work together--to have that voice heard.
Because here is something I don't understand, not even from this eponymous perspective: why isn't "white male" considered an "identity" in politics, and why is it a national tragedy when some people feel forgotten but not others?
I have to wonder if the Trump voters who felt neglected realize that the reason "people like us" get any attention from politicians is that our forebears inconvenienced themselves for justice. When we feel forgotten, we organize. We make phone calls and stand in the rain at rallies and run for office and create national organizations and movements and love armies and remember the words of the poet, Audre Lorde: Your silence will not protect you...and we have done this not just during an election cycle but all year, every year, for decades.
Shaan Dasani and Naazneen Diwan on their way to the Los Angeles Women's March
Yes we can learn from each other, of that I am convinced, but don't tell me that giving Trump a chance means not taking radical action. In fact, it means the opposite. It means caring enough about the fate of this country that we are willing to take time out of our lives to fight for the attention of politicians, attention that too many people who voted for Trump must feel is their--and only their--due. Maybe if you've never had to fight for your rights, you can't see that asking for equal treatment under the law doesn't take anything away from you. What we are trying to do is add: to the conversation, to the community, and to the promise and the soul of this country, which belongs equally to all of us.
I watched Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Janet Mock, America Ferrara, Alicia Keys, and so many others who may not be household names but for sure held the entire house's attention in D.C., and each in her own way reminded us of the crucial feminist belief that the personal is political. I know that injecting myself with testosterone won't of itself change the world, but it changes me. It is a personal act of power, of standing up politically with others--today, particularly with women--whose identities are too often used against them: my trans sisters, my lesbian and bisexual sisters, my black and brown sisters, my religious and my atheist sisters, my sisters with disabilities, my elder sisters, in fact all my XX and XY sisters, as well as my actual sister. We all have a part to play, and on this day, a shot of testosterone reminds me of the responsibility I have to be the kind of man who isn't afraid to make the rights of women a priority.
Hey, Donald, The Golden Rule Isn’t a Decorating Tip reflections on the 2016 election from Mikki del Monico
scene from Leave It to Beaver
The other day I went to a doctor's appointment at a clinic, thinking how nice it was to have health care after a decade without it. I looked around the room, seeing faces of many colors, taking in the diversity that I consider one of America's greatest assets. Then it happened: my eyes landed on the television, and there, in all its black-and-white glory, was Leave It to Beaver, the color reduced to extremes and a plot line that felt prophetic, given where many U.S. citizens, on both sides of the dismal divide, see our country heading. One side applauds the regression. The other grieves until we can figure out what else to do.
On TV, poor June Cleaver didn't have a driver's license and when asked why, she replied that she simply didn't need one, not with strong men around her. They insisted she learn, and of course, once in the car, she took time to check her makeup in the rear view mirror before using both the "big" and "little" pedals and screeching backwards. No irony there.
I pulled out my driver's license. I'd only corrected the F to an M last week, and I'd felt both relieved and excited to do so. I didn't understand its urgency, however, until November 9th, when all of a sudden, I began to worry about what America in reverse would actually look like. Most likely the world of the Cleavers was never reality, even for the families it supposedly modeled. That doesn't stop some today from retroactively aspiring it to be the new reality TV.
I woke the day after the election to a lot of noise, including Hollywood gasping with its hand over its mouth in shock. Perhaps they don't watch their own creations because if they did, they might understand how a megalomaniac who fed his need for attention by stomping to the front of the soup line in our free-hand-out ratings race, a man who actually could have shot someone without it making a difference to his candidacy, wound up on his way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The White House, circa 1860, the year Abraham Lincoln was elected
We're now more than a week past what the majority of eligible voters consider a horror show of an election. Based on the campaign rhetoric and cabinet appointments, we have some idea what lies in store for those of us on the margins. Still, we’ve had to return to our jobs and talk with people who voted as if they wouldn't have to answer for it to their children. We have to plan holidays with family members who apparently forgot the lessons they'd taught us growing up.
Even those who love us, who told us they understood how we must feel must not understand that what we truly feel is betrayed not by the faction of our countrymen and women who think it's OK to claim that America is only for them—we always knew they were out there—but by those nearby. Many of us didn't believe that our friends and family would sign off on hate and divisiveness, just so their not-really-all-that-bad lives would improve.
Respectfully, I say you do not—you cannot—know how difficult the election was for me if you do not stand on the precipice of having basic civil liberties taken away, freedoms and rights that never should have been denied in the first place but were and very likely will be again. So no, you do not understand, but knowing that doesn't make me feel any better. Instead, I feel worse because it means that you don't care about the quality of my life as much as you say you do. That said, I wonder if I could've taken more of a risk to help you understand.
I'd started numerous emails to friends and family members, which I never sent because I didn't want to create a rift between us. I wanted to maintain the grand illusion that our relationship could handle discord, and I did so by not challenging it. Maybe it felt too familiar, having lived behind a façade for way too many years, but no matter how deep the division sat, if I thought that keeping "us" intact meant making myself invisible—again—I should have known something was off. That's on me. I regret that I kept silent in those weeks before the election. The rift manifested anyway. After coming out as transgender, I thought the hard work was done. What I see now is that it was only beginning.
equality heart graffiti, Denis Bocquet
I am very concerned for the next generation. I want my nieces and nephew to grow up in a world in which they see the most powerful people display the same kindness and integrity they're being taught at home. I do not want the Commander-in-Chief to be someone who thinks the Golden Rule is a decorating tip. If I'd treated others with even a small fraction of the disrespect and disregard that Donald Trump has, the people who raised me would think I was a monster.
Let's be clear. Like most supporters, I don't agree with every decision Secretary Clinton has made, but based on actions over the course of her lifetime, I believe at her core, she (even still) wants to work with people to find solutions to some very difficult problems facing a constituency that includes the entire population of the U.S., and to do so with global awareness.
I voted for someone who would've gotten in there and done the roll-up-your-sleeves work necessary to find solutions. Not perfect solutions and not solutions that would only benefit me. I expect some of them wouldn't because that's what compromise means. The answers are never, ever, ever going to mean everyone agrees, but I don't think that needs to happen in order for us to do better. I also think someone who has never held political office in his life—never been a public servant of any kind—and whose idea of intricacy involves dropping tweets is a dangerous choice in a time when the issues are more complex than ever.
actual tweet from 2012
I've been told I live in a bubble, but my fellow Americans, if any of us thinks only one sliver of the population is what makes us strong as a country, you're in your own shrinking blister of people who do.
I know I’m not alone. A candidate who built her life and campaign—imperfectly at times—on being Stronger Together got the plurality of votes in this country...by a lot.
The man slated to be the 45th President is everything I was taught not to be. When kids in the future say, "I want to be President," I doubt their parents will have them memorize some of the Republican candidate’s gems. Instead they'll hand them the Gettysburg Address, teach them about civic duty, about people like Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr., and say things to them like, “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can." For the few who don't know, that's what Hillary Clinton's mother taught her.
I also want to make it clear: for me, this is not nor has it ever been only about LGBT rights. When people say my life under a Trump presidency won’t be that bad because he once said he didn’t agree with the bathroom laws in North Carolina and held up a rainbow flag at a campaign rally, understand that even if that’s the case—which I highly doubt given the people he’s chosen to surround himself with—there are others whose lives have already gotten worse, who live in fear, who’ve had their bodies bruised and property defaced, who now need to work double-time just to be heard and seen as equal. I care about them, too. I believe we owe it to each other to speak up, and I’m sorry for not having done so more often with those closest to me.
part of a quote from Martin Niemöller, outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler, who spent 7 years in concentration camps
So friends and family who voted for Trump, what I really want to know is: was your life so bad? Because when there is no one left to speak for me, I want you to look in the mirror and ask: How much did your life improve because of his presidency and was it enough? Only you can know the answer. I and the next generation, to whom you owe an explanation, will be waiting.
Hillary and Bill Clinton, Holiday Past
P.S. For kids who want to be President, here's a collection of quotes by people who understood that leadership requires more than a narcissistic desire to be in charge.
"I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty." - Woodrow Wilson
"When one side only of a story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes impressed with it insensibly." - George Washington
"If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence." - John Adams
"Think about every problem, every challenge, we face. The solution to each starts with education." - George H.W. Bush
"It is now our generation's task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law - for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well." - Barack Obama
"A president's hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right." - Lyndon Johnson
"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." - Franklin D. Roosevelt