Pripyat was the company town for the Chernobyl facility. It was home to 50,000 people whose lives revolved around keeping the reactors glowing. Happy workers make for good production, and nuclear energy was a high priority for the government of the old Soviet Union. So in a land of scarcity the residents of Pripyat were perhaps a little more equal than others. Pripyat had all the trappings of a consumer city in the West, including an amusement park.
Today Pripyat is a ghost town. It was evacuated in the immediate aftermath of the Chernobyl meltdown as panicked people fled. They left life as they knew it and all their worldly possessions behind in the rush to escape the poisonous clouds drifting from the facility that had only yesterday been the source of their good fortune.
Today though the people have long gone, Pripyat yet stands. It is a city frozen in time; a snapshot of the moment when its inhabitants disappeared on that fateful day 25 years ago. Chalkboards still have lessons in the schools, plates sit on tables for meals that were never eaten. Empty windows stare lifelessly at dead streets.
I was chatting with Cassandra the other day, reflecting on how much has changed on the internet with the whole TG thing. In the early to mid 2000’s there was a party atmosphere among the TG. ENDA was still a great hope and the DSM fight still held promise. Anything was possible to the gender crowd, even the normalization of clothing fluidity for men, the transgender thesis which became “gender expression” in later days.
There was so much positive energy among the gender crowd, everyone from casual crossdressers to full time transvestites came out of their closets and formed an identity out of their behavior. Effeminate gay men, long vilified by their own community and the country at large became “non op transsexuals” to escape the stigma, spurred on by example of the crossdressers and the cheerleading of therapists following a misguided theory of sexual identity. A virtual rainbow of behavior presented itself for public inspection- and demanded rights.
This was the height of transgender.
The contrast with today is striking. With the twin hammer blows of a hostile DSM revision and the specter of a transsexual-only ENDA looming, the party atmosphere is long gone. People have been quietly leaving the ranks of the TG and returning to their closets, shedding their aquired identities. The explosion of transvestite vanity pages is a thing of the past. Blogs fall silent. Even the militant activists are resigned. No champagne or streamers to be found anywhere.
Looking around the net at old messageboards and other transgender venues is like looking at Pripyat. It’s a reminder of a time already past. Only the clean up crew remains and soon even they will have to recuse themselves. Their source of power, the transgender reactor core, has melted down and what once sustained life is now completely toxic. Transgender has consumed itself and left only pollution behind. And someday even that will disappear.