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“Protecting” Marginalized Lives Kind of Skeeves Me Out

Just a quick thought from me today: does the whole “Protect [identity here] Lives” meme bother anyone else? I keep seeing these great graphics focused on a particular subset — black trans lives, queer Deaf lives, queer sex worker lives, etc. — of people that I care about, and want to support. But the “protect” message feels super paternalistic and condescending. Particularly on lines of difference where I have privilege, I don’t want to be the creepy protector or savior, I want to tear down the institutions and conditions that are harming people that don’t have privilege. Why not celebrate lives or honor lives? Even support lives feels slightly better than “protect,” with its connotations of parental authority or a paternalistic possessive boyfriend. The only place where I really feel comfortable with that word is when we’re explicitly talking about younger people that legitimately need protection, as in “Protect Trans Youth,” and even then I think there’s value in using “support” to recognize the fact that youth can also act for themselves. Then again, I suppose “Dismantle the Conditions That Contribute Systemic Racism and Transmisogyny and Therefore Interfere with Black Trans Lives” doesn’t really fit on a graphic.

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