The Day Approaches
In two days, the time comes again to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance. I could, I suppose, phone this column in by parroting some of the many good commentaries floating around online, or describing the lives of some of those who’s names will be listed at ceremonies around the country. Indeed, around the world. But in my writings, on whatever subject, I’ve always hesitated to be consciously a part of the “Me Too” choir. There are other, frankly better, sources for those kinds of details and while I’m sure I can write as well or better than many of them, there’s no point in me just repeating the information they made public first and in sufficient depth.
Rather, I just want to take a brief tangent on another train of thought provoked by the occasion. Actually, it’s a thought I hinted at in my remarks on this occasion a year ago, but I want to explore a bit further.
Let me preface this by acknowledging the reality that all of our circumstances are different, and I know from a different bit of drama in my own life that the simplistic advice from someone outside your situation hardly ever takes into consideration the complexity that can only be seen from within. Let me then say that the following is not presented at as attempt at a “guilt trip” or any other sort of pressure – just food for thought.
It occurs to me, more and more, that one of the big driving forces of change, and likewise the missing element when change is slow, is awareness. I choose that word advisably. I do not mean necessarily “information” because the existence of academic information alone doesn’t necessarily change hearts. Nor do I mean “education” – as valuable as that is, particularly for the youth – because a person will sometimes willingly shrug off an attempt at education which runs counter to a preferred worldview.
What I mean by “awareness” is first hand experience with the reality that (in the case of trans acceptance) we are here, we are legitimate, and we are “everyday people.” You see, as much as we bang the drum for a wide net of inclusiveness for any gender non-conforming behavior, for the big proportion, if not the majority, of cis people, the “outlandish” transgender person is the only conception of us they know. The drag queen, the streetwalker, the so-called “sissy” kink – not nearly as many seem to be aware that most trans women are “just folks” unremarkablly different from any other woman they may come across in the supermarket. It has been said that one of the big driving points in the gay rights movement was when more and more homosexuals came out of the the closet and many people were confronted with the reality that gays and lesbians were not “those freaks out in San Francisco” but were, indeed, their brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, even moms and dads.
Even so, the biggest accelerator to the trans rights movement we’ve witnessed over the past few years is just that sort of visibility. The best way for people to know we are “normal” is for them to SEE IT first hand in their personal circle of acquaintances. To be clear, I recognize that the primary focus of this site is the crossdresser, but I also recognize the truth in the cliche that a lot of trans people process their feelings first by crossdressing, and a lot of you faithful readers may yet feel obliged to cross that bridge. I do not propose to apply pressure to any individual specifically, but I do wish to speak to that one heart, or two, who’s thinking “I’d love to transition but I’m so scared.” You look at the tragedies we recognize on TDOR and you say “See? It’s dangerous!”
Yes, it can be. But it is more so BECAUSE we are so rare. Hearts are changed face to face. Please do not let fear keep you miserable. I understand some of the legitimate reservations about losing your job, or your family – those are not my decisions to make or address. But be sure that there is a specific identifiable concern, and not just generalized fear. We need you out here.
Moreover, consider this – every day that you let the fear of bigotry, or intimidation motivated by bigotry, keep you in the closet is a day that you give those haters the POWER to confine you there. Power over your life that they do not deserve. Even as a crossdresser, that ought to piss you off. You basically concede the argument to them, that you are unfit for the public and to be counted among “normal” people by your silence. Be sure that if you must stay hidden, it is for reasons of your own and not because you let them intimidate you in whatever way, for whatever you are.
We have a lesson to teach our fellow humans, I hope that the more of us who lift our voice, the less acceptable it will be to kill any among us for who we are.
Photo by: Andrea Crain