I'll bet that right now a bunch of you are wondering what I mean by that. How can it not be my fight? I'm Trans - that means I'm discriminated against enough as it is, and that I'm seen as gay, even by gay folks. How can it be anything but my fight?
Well, I'm not just Trans. I'm a passable Trans woman who gets hit on by men and women, who has a good relationship with her boyfriend, who generally doesn't have much in the direct way of discrimination against me, as a person, for being
Indeed, the discrimination I face - the worst stuff I get - comes at me from the other Trans and gay and lesbian and bisexual people I've encountered.
Now, as a multiracial gal, as well, I get to see all manner of various forms of prejudice.
I've been told in the past that I was going to have a job offer rescinded because I lied on the application when I checked "white". According to the interviewer, I should have checked black. As my picture might show, I'm too pale to be black, there was no red box, and the application said "pick one".
I'm three - and there was no option for many-colored people.
So I've seen and felt colorism, and been told, bluntly, that although I'm just as African American as anyone else, it isn't my fight, the battle for civil rights on the basis of skin color, as I've already got the right one.
That is, I pass for white. And, as a result, I don't really get all that much hassle for it - one application in damn near 30 years of working that stands out is not a pattern.
I pass as a woman. This is likely because I am one, but as a Trans woman, this is very similar to passing for white. I haven't been discriminated against as a Trans person since I completed the paperwork. My passport, my birth certificate, my ID, my general paperwork that we use to say this is who we are in our world - it all says female, and I look and sound and act like any other woman.
I'm not asked to drop skirt and show my privates.
I haven't worked in three years, of course, and a search on my name in Google, Bing, or even Ask tells you I'm an advocate and activist if you look around because I don't hide my past, and I celebrate it.
That's what gets me denied of late, more than anything else. My upfront, out in the streets arguing with pretty much anyone over trans folk and their rights, and since I seek to cover all Transfolk that means I include the GLB people kind of hard core, terribly personal activism, that leads to photos and jokes.
I have been the victim of a hate crime - but that was before I transitioned. I have been evicted for being Trans - right after I switched to full time. I walked into the manager's office, let them know I'd be paying next month and going forward like this (bad hair, iffy clothes, the usual early transitioner), and then when I went back the following month to pay my rent on time, I was informed that my money wasn't good any longer.
By the end of that month I was paying 50 bucks a night at a Motel 6 that told me since my ID photo didn't match my gender presentation, they wouldn't let me register. So I had to go and get a new picture on my ID, come back, and then deal with being sirred. I haven't had that happen in the last 18+ months.
I can get married next week if I want. Heading to Vegas, would take all of five minutes. I'm a female, it says so on my birth cert - the only one on record for me - and state law says that marriages between two women are void both in Nevada and Arizona. That I never got a divorce from my wife is irrelevant. (As a note, not really: but who wants to test it?)
I don't get gender no match letters from the SSA when I have a social security check run. That was changed as well - easy to do when you hand them a birth certificate and ID that say you aren't male.
In short, I have no problems now in my life that are the direct result of being trans.
So why should I bother to fight?
I don't want to fight for the rights. I'd rather just open my little bed and breakfast. Spend my time doing what I enjoy doing, get back into writing, maybe even have a chance to join in on the work I used to love ages ago in sociology. There's a group leaving in mid December to work in Iran - I could get in on that.
As long as I wasn't an "activist".
So it's not really my fight. I don't gain anything from it I don't already have. I don't benefit, there's nothing in it for me. I am, ultimately, not a second class citizen.
One could argue it just takes a moment to show my past, but that's not really all that accurate either. Because I'm open about it. And most folks know, and the internet is used, and I wouldn't work for someone who has a problem with me anyway.
On the other hand, the nastiest commentary I've ever had directed at me didn't come from the nastiest of our opponents. It came from my fellow transfolk and allied GLB folks.
I've been called delusional by gay folks and Trans folks. I've been called a transvestite whore by trans folks. Accused of prostitution by gay folks. Criticized for being "too girly" by transfolk who then turn around and say I'm "not woman enough". I have lesbian feminist separatists calling me a man and informing me my voice is not only not good enough to be heard, its very existence is an affront to them.
I am intentionally misgendered by transfolks - not so much by our opponents. They usually try to make up stuff about me (like how I have an Adam's apple from a picture half an inch tall). Then still call me she and her.
I'm told by our opponents that I'm gay, that I'm part of a vast Homosexual Conspiracy. I'm told by my trans and gay kith that I'm not a part of the movement that we started together.
In short, and especially the last 18 months, I'm being told that I belong in the wider world, not in the one that I've fought so long and hard for, while in the 18 months before that, I was told I belonged in that group by the wider world.
So if the wider world doesn't give me hell for being myself, but the LGBT community does, and gives me a hell that makes me cry, why should I put myself in a position of suffering for something that I have no practical stake in?
My answer to this is not quite as simple as "It's the right thing".
But I will save that for a different article.
This time, I'd like to put the questions to you. I'll tell you why I ask you, as well, in my follow up.
So, if you were in my shoes...
- Why is this a fight I'm a part of?
- What do I gain from it?
- Why should I put myself at risk for all of you?
I'm interested in the answers.