Angst

Brightly lit yellow-brownish savannah under a dark gray sky. A hint of a rainbow is peeking through clouds.
Title photo by Daniel Burka on Unsplash.

I don’t like the weirdness around gender in the German language. But I have to admit, there are words that perfectly capture the essence of something that otherwise would require paragraph upon paragraph of description:

angst
a feeling of anxiety, apprehension, or insecurity [1]
emotional turmoil, painful sadness [2]

The word angst summarizes pretty accurately the feeling that has been growing inside me for the past 6 to 8 months. A vague anxiety that’s hard to put into words. No doubt, hate and hostility towards queer people is nothing new. Though, 2022 manages to hammer us with bad news every single day.

At this point, psychological warfare is a fitting term for what’s going on, since we’re way beyond just some high-profile TERFs spewing their bigotry. TERFs are actively trying to “rebrand” as gender critical to sound more science-y. But make no mistake, these are the same old anti-trans folks who wish to eradicate us.

This terrifies me.

Bit by bit they overtake the discourse and determine the public’s view of trans and non-binary people. Look at centrist and conservative media (basically anything that is not explicitly leftist). In the name of “we need to cover both sides” (i.e. false balance), media outlets allow (even encourage) anti-trans folks to declare a whole population as unworthy of having basic human rights.

And this is just the beginning.

TERFism was a gateway for the right to sweep in and start rolling back decades of societal advancements. The TERFs and anti-trans folks served their purpose and without them realizing became allies to an even more radical group of people. You can see this happening all over the world, most prominently in the US. But as always, other countries will follow in due time.

First it was anti-trans laws. Then it became anti-gay. Now anti-abortion. What’s next on the chopping block? Interracial marriages? Women’s rights? Abolition of slavery? If this sounds like doom-mongering, you should pay more attention to the people commonly discredited as “woke”.

Side note: The same woke people are fighting for a planet Earth that’s still worth living on in ten years. It seems increasingly unlikely though, that anything substantial will be done to tackle the climate crisis. But this is a blog post for another day.

Back to the actual story.

Getting bombarded with hate each and every day is exhausting, which is exactly what the anti-trans/anti-queer/far-right movement seeks. Together with the general public’s lack of awareness makes you feel very lonely. This is literally The Mitchells vs. the Machines: A small group of people fighting against an overpowering enemy. Coincidentally, the main character Katie Mitchell is also queer. What a fantastic metaphor and movie!

I want to close with my favorite German sentence. These are the very first words of the Constitution of Germany (I know I’m weird, there are four copies of the constitution on my bookshelf, you never know when you might need them):

Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar.
Translation: Human dignity shall be inviolable.

— Article 1.1, Constitution of Germany

Simple, yet powerful. Incredibly broad, but also keenly specific.

What have queer people done to the world wherefore they don’t deserve dignity?


  1. Definition of angst on Merriam-Webster. ↩︎

  2. Definition of angst on Wiktionary. ↩︎