The Embrace by Gustav Klimt -- which, what else can we do, in times of fear, but love each other?

Fear and Loving: Reflections from a Trans Person

Image Description: The Embrace by Gustav Klimt.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicilty protected by any constitutional provision.”

The bed in my room is cold. Distantly, someone laughs in the hallway of the Angus building of Regent’s Park and a door slams shut loudly. The sound, as per usual, rattles through the entirety of the floor.

“…exceptionally weak…”

“…egregiously wrong…”

I turn over on my back, finding that my chest is too constricted to keep reading my phone screen on my stomach, with my head propped up on my elbows. When I’m done reading the Politico article of Justice Samuel Alito’s initial draft of the majority opinion to strike down Roe v. Wade, I can’t help but to share the article with a few cutting remarks on Alito’s moral character added on. It does nothing – it doesn’t even really make me feel better. I set down my phone – feeling something large and yet totally inexplicable blooming in the center of my stomach. Now what? I think. Now what? 

A notification noise startles me from my haze. I hadn’t even noticed I had closed my eyes, much less even let go of the phone. It is one of my best friends – the person who made me realize I was even trans to begin with – liking my post. The little interaction prompts a bit of reciprocal online liking and sharing between our two accounts, before she finally just texts:

“Slow news day, huh?”

I have to laugh. If the worst should come to pass, both of us, as exceedingly queer individuals, would be pretty fucked. There is very little to be done about it, realistically. We can discuss, in between ourselves, whether we ought to invest in real estate now or keep our funds more liquid, should we need to flee from one state to the next, or whether real estate itself offers a good jumping point from whence to flee. And we do, in fact, do that. But it’s mostly fear and trembling. It’s the feeling of: I don’t even know what to do.

We don’t have much to say from each other – apart from these practical considerations of should-I-stay-or-should-I-go-now? Still, as I talk to her, I think: this is what I’m here for. The world is bad. And I am but a little thing of flesh and blood, full of fear and worry. But here you are too: another little thing of flesh and blood. And even if there’s not much we can do about the external circumstances we find ourselves in, we can at least be there for each other.

I’m not happy about the state of the world. Being here at Oxford – in this prestigious academic setting – while the Ukrainian civilian death toll is reported to be higher than official counts, and while my right to health care, both trans-related and otherwise, back home is fundamentally threatened – feels sort of like I’m stuck in a fever dream. I write an essay about why it rains according to Aristotle, and all the while I’m thinking: and what about when I run out of hormones? And who is dying now? And now what? Now what? Now what? Fear-fear-fear. And in between drafts of my essay I send what I hope are causal sounding messages to my gynecologist.

My phone pings. It’s her again. It’s a nothing text – it’s a ‘the-washing-machines-were-occupied’ but it could have been ‘my-shirt-is-blue’ or perhaps ‘I’m-drinking-English-breakfast-and-thought-of-you.’ Still I think, I’m so glad it’s you. And I think of the poem, Song of the Anti-Sisyphus: that the scientific articles say that ‘passionate love/lasts only a year, maybe two, if you’re lucky/Because I want to be extra, extra lucky…’ Extra, extra lucky with you – the occupied watching machines, the cups of English breakfast, the little blue and grey text message blobs, the fear and loving in the face of a bad, bad world.

I have no advice to give, this time around. Nor do I have the energy to engage in witty political commentary. I just think that people should find someone they care about in times like this. All we have in the end, is each other in our boring, wonderful particularity.

Image Credit: Die Umarmung (“The Embrace”) via