As the COVID-19 pandemic permeates its way across the globe like toxic right wing opinions at a Trump rally, the world’s largest media outlets hunker down to cover its progress. Every day I find my social media inundated with advice and information pertaining to the virus and its potential deadly effects on the elderly, people with pre-existing respiratory ailments, and the immunocompromised. I’ve come across plenty of articles warning anyone over a certain age who suffers from COPD to stay away from crowds of people. I’ve seen guides on what to do if you’re a cancer patient in the middle of chemotherapy. I’ve watched video blogs created by people concerned about how panic-buying could have an impact on the elderly and how we can help their situation by getting supplies to them. What strikes me most however, is the usual lack of consideration towards nonbinary people and how a pandemic of this scale might affect their already difficult lives.
As a nonbinary person myself I am sadly not surprised at this complete disregard for people like me. It’s almost as if a worldwide pandemic makes us invisible. Indeed one of the symptoms listed on the medical advice websites should read: may cause a complete erasure of compassion for the lived experiences of gender non-conforming individuals. Not that mainstream society had any compassion for us to begin with, and now that the headlines are filled with concern for boomers it’s like Trump has finally won.
Now, of course I appreciate that people with medically-recognized illnesses have cause for concern, but they are getting all the support they need right now. Hardly any attention is being spared for those of us who live androgynous lifestyles and refuse to restrict our identities society’s sanitized, patriarchy-inflicted gender norms. So in the absence of any normies ever actually giving a shit about us, how does a nonbinary person deal with a pandemic? Obviously it takes a lot more effort for someone like me to face this outbreak head-on as a genderflective cisneg agitator simply because of the often insurmountable obstacles society has already littered my path with.
The official advice is if you feel ill and display any of the symptoms, you need to self-isolate for up to 14 days. Now this is problematic for me for many reasons. Firstly, I already have a number of self-diagnosed illnesses and so it’s tricky to for me navigate the myriad of physical sensations already caused by my PTSD, my anxiety, my M.E., my bulimia, and that neurological condition the Joker has where he laughs instead of crying, I forget the name of it but it’s quite fashionable at the moment. It’s like: ‘Do you feel shivery?’ Erm, excuse me are you mocking me right now? I am literally shaking as I type this, so er, YES. How on earth am I meant to keep track of what symptoms I need to even keep track of? Also: ‘Do you have a fever?’ Well if you count my skin burning up with anger whenever someone refers to me as ‘he’ then yes. Yes, I do. On a regular basis.
Oh, and I also have health anxiety so even *telling* me about the outbreak of a virus is damaging to my mental wellbeing. Then there’s the idea of isolation itself. Do these so-called medical ‘professionals’ even understand how dangerous this could be for someone as sensitive and aware of the fragile nature of their own existence as me? Nonbinary people are far more prone to introspective thought and so encouraging us to spend time away from other nonbinary people with the same political and ideological opinions is shockingly irresponsible. I’m not sure there’s an online echo chamber strong enough to withstand the constant onslaught of trolls for 14 days without the backup of my real-life comrade support base.
There really should be separate measures in place for vulnerable people like me who just want to be accepted and respected like everyone else. It’s at times like this, when there’s a global pandemic and lives are at stake, you really see the selfishness in our society laid bare.