I hear people say something a lot when I mention I’m going to a protest: “stay safe!”
That’s always felt off every time I hear it, despite recognizing the concerned intent there. I think the events today have helped me understand why.
Let’s be clear: I am not going to be safe. I don’t want to be safe. Safe, to me, feels like staying home and watching cartoons. Safe, to me, feels like hiding and being afraid.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m fucking afraid. I’m a visibly queer transfeminine person, and I will get targeted by harassers, nazis, and pigs given the opportunity. I recognize that if arrested, my white skin won’t protect me. I could be thrown in jail with men, denied my medication, and potentially getting assaulted or worse. The attacks on protesters today happened not far from me, and if things were different, I could have been in a bad situation right now.
To be clear: these are not just for protests. I walk down the street and feel fear. I have had slurs shouted at me, spat at, and feel nothing but fear whenever I see a cop. I avoid the edge of the subway platform because I worry someone will push me into the tracks. I haven’t ever experienced sexual assault, but I walk in the knowledge it’s not a matter of luck; it’s a matter of time.
I’m not going to be safe, period. What I am is going to be careful. What I am is going to be angry. A protest is a chance to be part of something, to try and do something to make this world one where I and others can be safe.
I think that’s worth the risk.