It’s Been A Rough Few Years for the Pandemic Trans

An unprecedented number of trans people came out during lockdown. Then the GOP declared war on us all.

Jude Ellison S. Doyle
5 min readMar 7, 2023

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A guy (probably not Marshall Mathers, but very similar-looking) hides inside with his hands over his face, as we all do.
“Dear Diary: Lockdown ended two years ago. Still have not gone outside. Unrelated note: Am I a photo of Eminem?” Photo by christopher lemercier on Unsplash

On my last normal day, I gave a reading in Manhattan. I had taken a train down into the city, and I was on a line-up with a few people, comedians and TV writers and authors. I remember hanging around backstage, before the show started, making nervous jokes and passing around an enormous pump bottle of hand sanitizer. It was lucky the venue had it, someone said, because stores were running out. The other performers lived in the city, so they were afraid of the virus already. I lived in the country, so I wasn’t aware of what I had to fear.

Is it supposed to get really bad, then? I asked, and the other performers grimaced apologetically. I reached for the sanitizer one more time.

Then it got really bad. You no doubt remember that part. Yet that’s not the point of my story. This is: My last normal day was also my last public appearance as a cis person. After a few months of lockdown, at least half of the people I followed on social media came out as transgender. By June of 2020, I had come out, too.

Who now recalls the pandemic transitioners? Yet we existed; we were a thing, a cohort, a moment. There were thinkpieces. There was discourse. There were celebrity endorsements: Suzy Izzard changed her pronouns [UPDATE: and name! Just hours after I posted this]. The most famous trans guy on Earth is also the world’s most famous Covid trans.

Obviously, the coronavirus didn’t cause transitions; I’d been working through my gender with therapists for about a year beforehand. Still, staring mortality directly in the face seemed to liberate people. Lockdown forced us all to face ourselves, and some of us surfaced with knowledge that would change, or even save, our lives. The pandemic transitions felt like hope; like proof that even history’s worst moments could produce something beautiful.

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Jude Ellison S. Doyle

Author of “Trainwreck” (Melville House, ‘16) and “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers” (Melville House, ‘19). Columns published far and wide across the Internet.