A recording was reported last night, capturing Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel making transphobic and racist remarks. In reference to her dog, Adel states, "apparently he's 80 percent Pomeranian, but in this day and age when you can self-select your gender, I'm saying he's an American Eskimo.” There is so much ignorance, transphobia, and racism held within this one sentence. Let’s break it down.
As many reporters have already written, Adel’s statement was obviously aimed at trans people and horribly equates trans people to dogs. Adel invalidates trans people’s gender identities and personhoods by claiming that we chose our gender. But little does she understand, her gender was actually selected for her. I think this idea of choosing and selecting gender is really interesting because in a sense, cis people are the ones whose genders were selected for them and because they’re cis, they’re able to live comfortably with that gender identity. Many trans people on the other hand are able to explore what their authentic gender is, away from the false one that was selected for them. So in a way, one may view it as their gender selected them! In a way, I resonate with the phrase of “coming into” my transness and my genderqueerness. It’s like a calling that you can’t shut out because if you do, you know you’re shutting out a part of yourself and the journey you need to take in order to feel more at home.
I also mentioned that Adel’s comment was racist. Adel also equates the Inuit to dogs via using the derogatory term Eskimo. On top of that, her overall lack of compassion towards the trans community demonstrates her ignorance about the state-sanctioned violence that trans people face, especially trans people of color, and specifically Black trans folks and Two Spirit folks. There are disproportionate rates of trans of color incarceration, houselessness, economic instability, joblessness, and premature death. Though not all cases of dehumanization, struggle, and death are directly touched by a government official (i.e. the police), all blood and suffering may be linked back to the failure of our transphobic, racist, and capital-driven political system. We deserve better. Our fallen (may they #RestInPower) deserve(d) better. Maricopa County Attorney Adel is only a small piece of the transphobic system who just happened to be caught saying explicitly transphobic remarks. At SAGA, we aim to uproot and uncover the whole mess that made Adel feel comfortable and empowered saying those remarks.
AJ Tiedeman (they/them)