Meet Abbi Sieyes
Our New Secret Writer
By Abbi Sieyes
Hello. I am a trans woman of considerable experience working with the government, as a largely effective outsider and arguably effective insider. I am a mom, to a child who is biologically mine. I breastfed her, and that experience was written into a peer-reviewed journal article which went sort of viral. It made me prize my anonymity when people said some rough shit about my Totally Safe and Successful Breastfeeding Effort.
I will write more in time about all of that in specificity—Trans in government! Lobbying! Movement strategy! Lactation!—but I’m interested now in the totality, all of my life. What’s it mean?
I have depression, anxiety, and not a bit of impostor syndrome. I have helped bring about million-dollar-plus government investments for queer economic justice. I am, by many conventional measures, a good mom.
And yet: I feel like shit. It’s not an all-the-time thing, but when that dark vibe reverberates inside, fuck the accomplishments. Sedate me. Booze me. Call my therapist.
No matter the w’s, I am a terrified, lonely creature in my depression. It feels dumb, embarrassing, and so out of sorts with reality that it’s alarming.
This is to say: I feel I can do a lot as a person, a trans woman, someone in a movement, a strategic thinker, someone given to soulfulness, and still—the void beckons.
I don’t know what to do with this. Initial guesses are: try an aggressively positive affect when my neurochemistry allows it. Surround myself with people who affirm me. Focus on my child, who is like me, but infinite times better.
But being trans, and one who wants some authentic engagement with the community, means I have to know too much. I try to hold–and fix–others’ pain. This is how our movement works, and sometimes burns its people out.
Despite trying to make a roadmap for how our community can get massive resources to thrive, I feel tiny and worthless, the–sometimes–proud owner of several nice tries at pushing along what my spouse calls the Social Change Machine.
I feel I can do a lot as a person, a trans woman, someone in a movement, a strategic thinker, someone given to soulfulness, and still—the void beckons.
The dark side of the personal being political is the political obscures, even poisons your personal. So what’s left? Sometimes, an affectless husk of a trans activist.
I long for a cute, pat, inspiring answer to my questions of self-worth–but nothing holds. We’re trans, we’re liminal, we’re scrappy and strategic. We may still be fucked. Fascism moves at the speed of history, and we move at the speed of, what, DSM complaints and a movement-wide social vision that’s frequently transformative–but–when that vision is in the hands of Very Wrong But Powerful Mouthpieces, it’s totally inadequate to the threat. Still, in 2022, finding ways to chase marriage equality’s coattails? We win marriage again, but have we merely scratched (if that) the people trying to kill us? Fuck me.
We actually need vast sums of money and State Power. We need cultural backing, unswerving allies, and social democracy as a consolation prize. We need lactation, revolution fervor, institutional power that’s more than government tokens (but god bless us government tokens), and more. Like, what if Modern Monetary Theory, but guided by trans folks? It also wouldn’t suck for us to have a state monopoly on violence.
This is weird, this is sort of abstract, but as someone who sort of knows what she’s talking about, I can see the pieces, and imagine them moving. My soul and the void are still chasing each other around, no tag-backs, but my soul—which sums up all I know and feel and other numinous things—is speedy—adaptive. My metaphor sucks—I blame depression—but you get your girl here. It’s dark, but we can squint and see where we need to go. The base (tag metaphor again). The defining attribute to get us there, to the better things, starts with a will to live, goddamnit. And I want that.
I will not lose myself to my insecurities, spiraling, and the depressing-but-necessary work of trying to take over the State, and I don’t want you to, either. My theory is that our movement and community depend on it.
More on that later.