I keep seeing the same story plastered all over my facebook feed: a trans man from Texas is a wrestler, in high school, and is forced to wrestle on the girls team due to Texas law. Every time I see whatever version someone is sharing, I cringe. First of all, there’s the slightly varying but all equally awful clickbait/sensational titles of the articles/links themselves.  Check out this one from the Washington Post, posted two days ago.

I’ll be honest: I haven’t read the articles. I don’t need to. I can take one look at that title, cringe, and know that if I read this article, not only will it be full of comments from people calling for our deaths, this is from a journalist who has done the bare minimum of research on trans issues.  I celebrated five years of transitioning eight days ago. There are many things I’ve learned about surviving in this world as myself, one of them is to not read articles that shouldn’t be written in the first place. A rule most of us follow: Do NOT read the comments.

I have seen maybe five posts about Chyna Gibson, a trans woman of color, being violently slaughtered. I’m not saying that Mack Beggs (the wrestler) isn’t important. I’m not saying that bathroom bills aren’t important. Or our extreme levels of poverty. Our homelessness, joblessness, discrimination everywhere. These are all very important issues, but when our trans woman of color (twoc) are being murdered at an alarming rate, why is it that these are not the stories that are being covered?

Because no one wants to admit that we, as a country, are racist as hell. We don’t want to admit that we hate trans people. We don’t want to admit that every system put in place is meant to kill us. We don’t want to admit that we have way bigger problems than bathrooms. We don’t want to discuss the fact that our life expectancy is 34 (23 if you are a twoc). More than 70% of us have dealt with suicide. I can’t tell you how many people I have lost. When I celebrated being out for five years last Sunday, I had to take a moment and just breathe, and understand how fortunate that I am still here.

Yet we see the same articles being passed around. I’ve seen 3 people I’m friends with share an article about 5 twoc who were murdered since 2017 started, and those are just the ones that we know about. Every 21 hours, one of us are murdered. This article is from last January, but I remember the trans groups I’m apart of made a worldwide event calling attention to this. There was a challenge: can we go 24 hours without murdering a trans person? We failed.

There’s the identity politics. We aren’t our genders, we identify as. Don’t get me wrong, identity is important. It’s how we find community. It’s how we find ourselves. I knew I was trans for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t have the words for it until I watched Boys Don’t Cry in 2006, alone in my parents basement with the lights off, the sound barely on, in case they walked in and figured out the secret I thought I would take to my grave. I was 16. I didn’t come out until 2011 because all I knew the narrative: We struggle to find ourselves, attempt to live as authentically as we can, someone finds out our secret, they rape us, kill us. I mean, our life expectancy is absolutely appalling, and Boys Don’t Cry is based very much on a true story. But when we only focus on clickbait articles, such as this female identifies as a boy but is playing on the women’s teams, when that is what some of the only stories that are being shared is about, when we are literally dying, often in horrific circumstances, there is something wrong.

There is something burning. Wake up. We need to talk about these systems in place designed to slaughter us like animals sent to the slaughterhouse. We need more than conversations about bathrooms, or what team we get to play on. I’m not saying these are the only issues that are important, because, again, these systems are designed to out us, other us, and contribute to the only option I’ve ever seen for someone like me: Come out, suffer beautifully, die tragically young. Don’t let anyone distract you from what is really going on. They want us dead, they always have.