Not everyone can vote with their feet
My transmasculine spouse and I moved to New England from Missouri a few months ago. We made the switch for a number of reasons, but one of the most pressing was the tsunami of anti-transgender legislation around the country, as exemplified by states like Florida and Missouri. We recently heard from a friend in the town where we’d lived. They’d also changed states. The reason? Their trans teen couldn't sleep due to worries that officials would burst through the doors and remove them from their family.
We put our house up for sale, packed up, and left all within the space of about two months. We were lucky. Our friends’ situation is more complicated. They lived in a unique home which they’d constructed themselves, pouring in time, money, and love over several decades. Its eccentricity and size make selling more challenging. Our house was just a house; ready for a family to move into and make their own. Theirs is a venue, an experience, an exploration. A passion.
We didn’t know where we were headed when we left, just knew we had to get out, and that we’d land somewhere in Massachusetts, Vermont, or Maine. Places which had mountains and access to the coast. Places which had culture. Places which were safe. It took several months and a lot of money to find the place we eventually landed. Short term rentals with two dogs and a cat aren’t cheap. Real estate remains a seller’s market. Shipping and storage costs are expensive. We work from home, and work was disrupted by the process for an extended period of time. A dear friend and patron gave us some money which made the whole process doable.
Each time I evaluate our dwindling bank account balances and consider the work we need to do on this old house, I worry. But I still recognize our privilege. The ability to simply up and leave is intensely privileged.
Things won’t necessarily be easy for us here, in this new place. Declan’s transition is still fraught with concerns and stumbling blocks. But at least we were happy to be headed back to New England. Not everyone wants to leave their home state, or can even if they'd like to. Jobs, family situations, finances, and other issues can all force people to remain where they are.
Imagine the desperation families must feel right now, considering the trauma their children (no matter what age) are facing and will continue to face. Assessing the impact on their emotional and physical well-being, but knowing they’re essentially trapped.
Imagine having to plan what you would do if “officials” showed up at your door because you refused to discontinue the gender affirming care plan developed for your child by medical practitioners.
Imagine the terror.
Imagine the rage.
Imagine the profound sense of helplessness.
Declan and I were able to escape a state which wants to legislate people literally to death. But not everyone has the luxury of voting with their feet.
And I just don’t know what to do about it.
Suzanne DeWitt Hall (she/they) is the author of The Language of Bodies: a novel (Woodhall Press, 2022), Where True Love Is devotionals, the Living in Hope series supporting the loved ones of transgender people, and the Rumplepimple adventures.