The LGBTQ community is riddled with emotional wounds and animus. Our identity and validity is under constant attack, both by political enemies and personal relationships. Our family ties are often strained with the pain of living an open, honest life, despite all attempts by well-meaning strangers, family, and friends to shove us back into the closet. Our people often struggle to feel accepted in a world that, for the most part, does not guarantee security, happiness, or validity to our lives.
This usually goes without saying, but I think it's important to occasionally look at the trees that make up the forest of our landscape. This article isn't going to look at the gnarled, scarred trees needing political attention. We spend an inordinate amount of time looking at the pitfalls of our livelihoods, and while this is important to advancing the cause of equality, it's not exactly the most uplifting message we can possibly provide to the online world. Today I want to stay squarely within the bounds of hope, affirmation, and the promise of a quality life for people looking at the option of transition; I know they are out there, possibly reading this article along with everything else this site has to offer, and I want to try something different.
It was recently pointed out to me in a comment that I had no ground to discuss LGB issues, and to a certain degree the commenter was correct. I can't begin to understand the complexities of a gay identity. However, to some degree I understand the complexities of transgender life, and I think it's high time someone stood up and talked with a shade of optimism on this website. So, for the duration of this post, let's forget about the tenets of cisgender privilege, lucky/unlucky transpeople, outside pressures, passing privilege, the solidarity/disarray of the LGBTQ acronym, and all that other bullcrap that usually floods the site. This post isn't about any of that.
We are here to talk about the experience.
We are here to talk about hope.
The image at the top of this entry links to "Trans Girl Diaries," a personal favorite comic of mine. The comic recently portrayed Adrian's family throwing her out of the home, complete with all the nasty, terrible insults and curses that come along with that experience. It's certainly worth a read. These experiences are real - these kinds of experiences happen to a lot of trans people, and the wounds they leave often take years to heal. One does not complete a transition without at least some adversity, and to try and tell anyone otherwise would be a great disservice to them.
The problem with these experiences is that they form the most common conversational thread within the online transgender community. As yellow journalism once taught: "If it bleeds, it ledes"; we are naturally drawn to share our negative experiences with others. The same cannot be said of our triumphs and successes, as they are less popular topics of conversation. People researching transgender treatment often come away with a single, overarching message: "Transition ruins your life. You will be jobless. You will lose your family. You will end up destroyed."
Transition isn't all bleak and dreary. Far from it. The trans community has made huge strides over the past few years that make the actual process less destructive. The headlines at Bilerico and other trans-friendly websites belie the fact that it's possible to transition into a successful member of the gender of your choosing. Yes, we lag behind in civil rights, but that doesn't mean we can't have happiness and acceptance in our lives.
You can have a successful transition.
Let me say that again: despite overwhelming odds to the contrary, despite what gets said on the pages of Bilerico, despite all the naysayers who put down transitioners as the lowest of the low, you can have a successful transition.
One of the downfalls of a blog is that one's image is based on the articles they write. Here, my focus is almost exclusively on transgender rights, experiences, and legislation. That's all the more anyone needs to know when I'm writing for this audience: I am a transgender woman who is adding her voice to the chorus for LGBTQ rights, recognition, and visibility. I'm proud to be a part of this movement, and am completely comfortable with being out as a transgender person in this realm. My job here is to point out all the injustices suffered by LGBTQ people, and make commentary that will hopefully spur people to work for change.
Who I am on the pages of this blog is not who I am, however. In the real world I'm twentysomething professional woman. I have friends and family who love me as I am, no questions asked. I don't have people staring at me when I walk down the street. I'm gainfully employed, and beyond a few nagging problems that most trans-people have to navigate my life's struggles are the same as any other young woman: making rent, finding my identity, helping friends, struggling against patriarchy, finding time to make my life one that's worth living. As I tell my friends: "I'm a girl. I deal with, you know, girl stuff."
The "newness" of transition has worn off, for the most part, and the months and months of work put into my voice, presentation, and social skills have helped me blend in with the crowd. If I don't talk about transition, people don't even realize I used to be a guy. This was the point of my transition: become a woman, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It's possible. I've done it. You can too.
There's a lot of us out here: despite all the legal hurdles, nasty prejudice, and familial issues, we go about or lives like any other woman or man tends to do. We pay our bills, we do our jobs, we go out dancing on the weekends. We don't wear buttons that say "Hey, I'm transgender!" We don't don rainbow flags and do jigs around the local churches. After the newness wears off, and the hurdles to transition are cleared, things get to be pretty boring.
We've done it. You can do it too.
I always tell people that transition is the last form of social magic our society practices. When you think of the rigidity of gender roles, the extensive, gender-specific socialization given to children, and the overwhelming pressure to conform to these heteronormative roles, a seamless transition is in itself a sort of magic trick.
People have trouble believing that I ever used to be male. For example, I was recently locked out of an old bank account because the photo ID there was male; it was obvious to the phone operator that I "just could not be the account holder." Magic, my friends. Transition is magic. Does this magic require planning and hard work? Of course. Transition is brutally hard, but nothing worth doing is ever easy. The results are certainly worth the trouble.
Look, I know this post didn't really help advance the rights of LGBTQ people. It's the dawn of a new year: legislators are out for the holiday, major news networks are running human interest stories to fill in the blanks, and frankly I kind of need some optimism to get me through after all the stinging defeats we took this year. Under all the hurt, and the prejudice, and the forces hell-bent to destroy our very identities as "insane" or "depraved," we have to remember that the people behind the acronym are out there living their lives, and they are happy. There's no better way to start the new year, I say!
Who else wants to share their tree story?
Image ©2009 Evelyn.