Though our operations over the last year have had a focus in the developing world, the situation closer to home for us in countries such as the USA has been of significant concern. An inevitable descent into some form of fascism seems all-too-possible, and since we trans people are the scapegoat of the moment it’s not difficult to see where this is going. In case any Americans remain in doubt we’d like to direct them to the Heritage Foundation’s 2025 blueprint for a newly elected Republican president. Entitled “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise”, it sets out a chilling path in which a president gains near-dictatorial powers through abuse of the federal system backed up by a supreme court packed with their yes-men. They can then criminalise being transgender at the federal level and erase us from society, effectively making any “safe states” irrelevant.
Over the past year then, we’ve urged people to not wait for that end, but to get out while they still can. Our biggest concern is that if it’s all left to the last minute as a newly-elected far-right President prepares for his inauguration, only the wealthy trans people will succeed in escaping and the rest will be left for the Republicans to come after. Unlike many of our passengers who will be denied access to international travel based simply on their nationality, transgender Americans still have one of the most powerful passports in the world. They have options, something that will disappear abruptly when they are criminalised and their documentation is invalidated.
The Only Luxury You Have Is A Bit Of Time
The trouble is, we can only keep saying this and urging people to plan their exit, we can’t airlift every individual trans American to safety as we simply don’t have the resources. We’ve taken some grief for this, as people shoot the messenger rather than listening to the message. It comes down to this, getting out in some form is not out of reach when you have the luxury of time, but as the time becomes more limited, so does the chance of escaping.
As a first step, if you haven’t already, get yourself a passport. Only 37% of Americans have one, don’t be one of the 63% who are stuck in a fascist society with no way out. It costs $130, which we know isn’t a sum everyone will have handy, but here’s where the time comes in. You have the luxury of time, use some of it to get that cash together. When it’s the document that will save your life, isn’t it worth some sacrifices to save for it?
So you’re getting a passport, what now? Your whole life should become an exercise in planning for a future as an immigrant somewhere else. What are your skills, what do you have to offer another country who might take you? Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to work in finance or computer programming to emigrate, a huge number of countries have skill shortages in much more mundane areas. If you can’t find one of those visas there are digital nomad visas, or even ancestry visas if Grandad came from the old country. We can’t hold your hand here, you will need to become an avid student of international visas. Every country’s immigration department has a website listing what’s on offer, and it’s up to you to spend your time trawling through them.
Having started looking, what skills can you learn? Can you come up with a location-independent way to earn a living? How many languages can you speak? Anglophones tend to be bad at learning other languages, so it’s an easy way to give yourself an edge. Sometimes visas even hinge on speaking the language, as an example Japan has one for agricultural workers which requires a high standard of Japanese. We know from our own experience here at Trans Rescue that language learning is hellishly difficult, but with apps such as Duolingo being only a download away at least it’s never been easier to start.
Here’s the bottom line then. Only the most blinkered of individuals could claim that there’s no threat of America lurching over the brink into fascism, or that trans people wouldn’t be first against the wall in that eventuality. There’s no credible future in somehow seeing off the military industrial complex of a fascist government with an AR-15 popgun, so your best chance of avoiding the inevitable is to get out. Time is running out for that to happen, so the earlier you take action the better your chances of survival. We can offer basic advice and we’ve done our best to share as much as we can here, but we can’t hold your hand through the whole process.
That’s up to you.
Header image: Alt-right members preparing to enter Emancipation Park, Charlottesville, ‘Unite the Right’ rally, 12 August 2017. Anthony Crider, CC BY 2.0.