The one website that I frequent most by far is a firearm-related website: www.ar15.com. It was originally started as a bulletin board focusing on the AR-15 style rifle. It has since morphed into something else. It's a community. A town. It has its town cops, its town leaders, even its town drunks. But mostly, it has its members - a strange bunch of men and women that mostly bond together over their love of, or fascination with, firearms. Not only AR-15s, mind you - there are sections now for all kinds of guns. But it's still AR-15.com. Familiarly known by its members as "arfcom."
One of those members is a woman named Erin Smith. Her avatar photo is of her, dressed up as a sexy pirate. She's fended off many attempts and offers from newcomers to the site, and it's understandable why: Whether as a pirate, or in her normal attire, Erin is quite a fetching person.
Erin was born a man.
Since she came out, she's faced both praise and ridicule, scorn and respect. It can't be easy being a transgender person in a community filled with conservative, right-wing, mostly Christian rednecks. But Erin has a bravery that I don't think I could ever match.
Let's let her tell it in her own words:
To be a gun-owning, conservative trans woman living in the leftist mecca of San Francisco is to exist as an apparent contradiction, and the incredulous reactions I get whenever I find myself discussing politics are an endless reminder of that fact.
How can I stand with people that seek to interfere with my life by denying me legal recognition and enshrining discrimination? That fight to keep me from using the correct bathroom? That seem to ignore my inherent worth as a person?
These are just some of the queries I have fielded, and to be frank in the beginning they actually sounded halfway reasonable and originating from legitimate concern. And while my political compass has always pointed right, I will freely admit the needle occasionally wavered when I pondered these things.
But living in a swirling nexus of ever-intensifying leftist political violence has exposed the deceit, and watching right-leaning friends be assaulted while attending political rallies, some shunned by their social circles, and others cowed from openly expressing even moderately diverging opinions has only intensified my feelings.