29 April 2020
Crystal.M. Ether is a queer disabled working class activist from Glasgow, involved in trans liberation struggles and local wildlife preservation (Glasgow water vole project).
How is it already 8pm? Once again I hear the thunderous applause. Neverending, rattling my fragile windows. Going through life as a trans disabled working class key worker, I find little solace in the blind adoration so many of my neighbours have taken to showing for the smallest fraction of the frontline in the struggle against this virus.
It is of course no shock to me, that the general public has adopted to clap those who have denied trans people medicine and support for centuries, rather than those of us who by nature of our very existence produce key work every day. While the whole world awaits a return to normal, working class trans voices like myself pray for anything but, normalcy an untold horror scenario we are so glad to have escaped. Normal means being expected to hold down jobs we cannot do, normal means having our words twisted and exploited in ways we do not consent to.
Our transition is key work. Transition is our constant exhaustive toil that continually produces gender, that births your tolerable gendered lives in otherwise unliveable circumstances. We are not phased by this pandemic. We already teach ourselves socially acceptable techniques of dress and makeup from online tutorials, we stay indoors, we socially distance from our transphobic families and friends. Lockdown is an old friend, avoiding physical contact a well rehearsed routine for those of us whose bodies are considered too gross or too fat to be taken seriously. We write blog posts on queer forums detailing self-medication hormone regimes. We order multiple binders from exploitative internet retailers and submit the return labels before anyone notices, we support and produce key sex work online, we key work for hours before the mirror to bring to the online zoom meeting a gender which can be named, respected, spoken with pronouns, paraded in front of diversity working groups. This is not new to us.
We have tried so long to teach doctors our medical needs and pretended to be attentive when they repeat knowledge of our own bodies back to us, and now that again we find ourselves in a global pandemic which does not compare to the mental health pandemic of my community, these same doctors demand we follow there advice word to word claiming our hard earned key worker title for themselves. While they work tirelessly to end their crisis, we bathe in the chaos and enjoy our days in the sun. This does not phase us.
I am no longer afraid to stand up and be counted. I am trans, working class, disabled, and my existence is key work. I challenge your cisheteronormative societies short comings daily, I deal with the trauma of those who have been spat out by a “national” health service not designed for those that cannot be confined to a mental illness checklist. My care work is unpaid. My medical expertise is unpaid. My gender production is unpaid. My advocacy is unpaid. My training is unpaid. My support work is unpaid. My teaching is unpaid. My writing is unpaid. I am in poverty. I do not need your “forlough” or your “universal credit”, I do not want your excuses for why capitalism has failed me yet again.
We find ourselves at the breaking point of cis hegemony. We demand free trans healthcare, and to be paid for our constant exhaustative key work, we demand a reparation payment and our debts wiped. But spare yourself the meaningless clapping for our key work, we are already clapped, you just don’t listen.