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The importance of self-care in the ongoing fight for racial equality and trans rights

By: Tobey Tozier* / Trans Headlines

I wake up to the sounds of birds every morning. It’s an immersive but gentle call and response of Maine Chickadees, WoodPeckers, and Robins, together creating a single alarm I hear in my dreams and as my eyes ease open. I won’t pretend my mornings are peaceful–because as soon as I’ve reached for my glasses on the nightstand, my 12-year-old senior beagle starts to whine and pace at the foot of the bed while my cats announce their hunger and dance on my head. I stumble out of bed to feed them. 

After putting the kettle on to make coffee, I check my phone for the latest news. Louisville police officers raided the home of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency room technician, and shot and killed her. I zone out into the long, sharp noise of the coffee grinder crushing coffee beans into tiny fragments. George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man was killed as a white Minneapolis police officer held his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. I open the window to let in some air. Tony McDade, a 38-year-old Black trans man was fatally shot by an officer of the Tallahassee Police Department.

My heart hurts, but it can’t keep up with this endless devastation. As Black Lives Matter protests break out across the country, I drive myself and my spouse to a local protest in our town. A masked police officer hugs a young black man as the young man pleads to the mostly White crowd to keep showing up for Black lives.

In the midst of a global pandemic, we watch the largest Civil Rights movement in American history gain momentum. SAY HER NAME! SAY HIS NAME! BLACK LIVES MATTER! NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE; NO RACIST POLICE! A young Black girl stands on the corner of her street with her parents, watching as we march with our signs toward the police station. 

I lay in bed and think about the privilege that I have as a white transgender man. There’s no time for guilt and no time for silence. While I can relate on the grounds that my existence feels like a threat to some and that my life is at risk because I am trans–I know that the Whiteness of my skin isn’t making the target on my back any bigger. 

Waking up, the birds seem quieter and the coffee smells faint. Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells, a 27-year-old Black trans woman was brutally murdered in Philadelphia, and Riah Milton, a 25-year-old Black trans woman was shot and killed during a robbery in Ohio. The days blend together as quarantine continues and daily routine feels increasingly disconnected from the outside world. The Trump Administration reverses health protections for transgender people, coming as breaking news during pride month amidst the 4th anniversary of the Pulse shooting and the 51st anniversary of Stonewall.

There is change to be fought for, but we need to take care of ourselves. I was three days late on my testosterone shot this week and until now haven’t given myself the time to process or reflect on what’s happening. My heart hurts, still, but it can’t keep up with the constant devastation. So how do we take care of ourselves?

It’s important to listen to our bodies and give ourselves the space to breathe. Stay informed and stay active but give yourself permission to recharge.

If you are Black and you are wondering if you belong here–you do. If you are trans or non-binary and you are wondering if you belong here–you do. We’re stronger together and we will continue to fight. 

*Tobey Tozier is a transgender designer and founder of Transcapsule, a transgender transition tracking app. He lives in Maine with his spouse, Mal, their two cats, and a senior beagle named Tuesday. Tobey has made it his life’s mission to help other people who are transgender live happier, more positive lives.