Historically, the transgender community has experienced discrimination in the public and private spheres. In American culture today the queer community encounter patriarchy everywhere. Its deafening grips still cling to the institutions and language in which it thrives in. In the private sphere the “coming out” politics have shaped the queer family experience. In the public sphere bodies are policed and controlled. Policies such as stop and frisk are policing the bodies of queers through coercive efforts. Resistance to patriarchy lies in the efforts of scholars and activists who are fiercely advocating for equality and ending discrimination against non-conforming genders.
Coming out is a private matter that should be left to the individual making that choice. There is no doubt that its social implications affect the lives of queers in many different ways. However, sometimes that choice leads one to exile. Due to patriarchal notions of family, exile is an unfortunate possibility. It is chilling, yet a reality that many face. Family politics are ridden with patriarchal notions and are destroying lives. I argue that family should not be based on sexual orientation or gender but love for one another.
Queer bodies in New York City are being threatened by stop and frisk policies that may cause serious danger by just walking down the street, especially those of the transgender community. In an interview conducted by the Center for Constitutional Rights, April R. stated,
I’m paranoid, scared…’cause if I’m walking on the street, I better rush to a public place and runaway from them ‘cause I know I can get arrested for just walking on the street. ‘Cause if I’m walking with my friend, they just assume that I’m a prostitute, that I’m a sex worker, or just because I’m a Hispanic transgender woman, because of my gender, I can just get arrested.
April represents the silenced voices within the big city. New York City for many is representational of opportunity and inspiration to all no matter who you are. However, this is not the case in a patriarchal culture such as ours.
So much harassment, just for being a transwoman in Jackson Heights. I don’t think it’s illegal for me to walk in a dress, but obviously, they’re always going to think I’m a sex worker…because I’m a transwoman, and so I’m soliciting.
Research shows that trans women of color are targeted in stop and frisk incidents. When they are stopped their gender is criminalized. Thus, they are charged with solicitation or prostitution. God forbid, they practice safe sex and carry condoms. This form of sex-shaming may cause devastating outcomes in New York City since they have the highest rate of HIV infections in the country.
Patriarchy at work, once again.
Smashing patriarchy means protecting the transgender community and their rights. Reuniting queer families on the premise of love and solidarity rather than discrimination is one way to smash patriarchy.