March 31st is Transgender Day of Visibility.
Each March 31st, we celebrate and support our transgender brothers and sisters, those who are in the closet and out, those who have transitioned and those who have not. We remember and hold in our hearts those who have been beaten and murdered and humiliated. We embrace everyone on the gender spectrum.
I have written and deleted giant swaths of text several times tonight because I just can’t find the right words to put down. A lot of it was rambling, a lot of it was self-serving in one way or another, much was too whingy or preachy. I tried to make terrible analogies to help cis people understand what it might be like to be at risk for simply being who they are: “Imagine your height is a crime,” “imagine the color of your eyes could get you killed.”
None of it was worth a damn (I’m far from a perfect ally.)
Let me start again by saying this: Had I known transgender was a thing when I was much, much younger, I might have chosen that path myself. I have often identified as more male than female, though to varying degrees. Could I commit to transitioning? I don’t know. Honestly, I would probably be too afraid.
Talking with a trans friend about this piece tonight, she said, “It’s really not that hard. You talk to a therapist, and a medical professional, and swallow pills on a daily basis” and, because she’s got an amazing sense of humor, “and stand on the toilet and creep at cisgender people in the bathroom.”
I initially felt like this discounts the struggle it must be… but she’s trans, and I’m not, so I believe her.
Still, I don’t know that I would have had the courage to take that path – it would have been in the 90’s, probably, and I wasn’t even a fully-formed person yet, let alone someone with enough strength and character to make such a tremendous change in my life. The only Big Decisions I was remotely equipped to make back then were, “do I stay up and play Euchre all night, or do I go to class in the morning?” (I seldom made the responsible choice.)
Now, in my forties, I see people my age transitioning, and I am so happy for them, so humbled by their courage. I am just not that strong a person, nor am I fully convinced I would want to live as a man – but it is something I feel wistful for more at times. Thus, I settled into my life as a bisexual cis woman who would perhaps feel at home with a penis. I’m ok with it.
I suppose if I were truly trans, the need to be in a body that matched my mind would be powerful enough to push me through nearly anything. I can’t know – I just try to understand as best I can.
And I stand up for our trans friends. Do that. Be a good person.
I have witnessed people saying cruel things about trans people behind their backs – either out of anger because of a disagreement, or out of general intolerance.
I do not. Tolerate it.
Neither should you. If you see or hear someone harassing a transgender person – hell, ANY person – do the right thing, and speak the hell up. Be the good guy – be the role model. Be the person you would want on your side were you in that person’s shoes.
We all have to fight intolerance together, and some of the battles are just… asinine. Oh, you have to remember not to use their deadname. Whew. Pace yourself, buddy, because that is superhard, right? Oh gosh, you need to remember to use the correct pronoun. Is that really something to get upset about?
Yes – we need to change our mindsets a little bit, we have to rewire names and pronouns, we have a new vocabulary to learn – Big. Fucking. Deal. If you consider that to be inconvenient, imagine having a penis around all the time when you don’t feel like it belongs on your body.
I set out to write about what my trans friends mean to me – and I’m having a hard time with it. My trans friends are … my friends. They enrich my life because of who they are. I am grateful to them for expanding my awareness, for sharing their stories with me, for being amazing and wonderful people – not because they are trans. Their stories are different from many others’, but so are my physically disabled friends’ stories, so are my straight friends’ stories, my female friends’, my male friends’, my asexual friends’, my pansexual friends’ – all of their stories are important to me.
Each person is precious to me, an irreplaceable gem in my heart.
As I’ve struggled through this piece, the main point I want to bring home is that we need to be decent human beings to each other – to everyone, irrespective of gender.
But my trans friends need special attention right now, we need to bring the world to a place of compassion and understanding. For many, this is new and scary – anything dealing with our bodies or, god forbid, sexuality, is automatically terrifying and enraging. We have to help them understand as best we can.
Thus, March 31st. Every year.
Today is Transgender Day of Visibility – we need to have it, we must have it, and it makes me very sad that we are still in a place where we can’t just not be assholes because someone is different.
Be kind to each other – man, woman, or somewhere in between. Listen, pay attention, support each other – because we all need love and support, even when we might not want to admit it, especially to ourselves.
Everyone we meet is fighting a battle of one sort or another – be kind.