It is Thanksgiving in the US, a time to share what we are grateful for.
TBB has always liked being the centre of attention more than I have. She enjoys being seen, whatever the reason.
I just don’t have the NYC out-there vibe she has, that willingness to be a bit of a ham or a parade float. My low levels of latent inhibition, my early training taught me more of a hit & run guerrilla approach, wanting my statements to be heard while staying personally invisible, as silly as that sounds.
Last week TBB was sitting in a departure lounge at LAX.
“I’ve been here for two hours,” she told me, “and nobody is staring at me. I miss the old days!”
Her amusing cry that she has become too invisible in the world, so different for the big blonde transwoman, is a sign of the huge change in transgender visibility in the world. We are now much less scary freaks when we appear in cosmopolitan settings, instead becoming more “So What?”
The world, it seems, is getting used to saying “Yes” to transpeople, or at least saying “So What?”
My local school district is contemplating making plans for transkids at the high school, with designated gender neutral one-user restrooms. This is a conservative, Republican enclave, and like so many other social changes, the challengers can’t understand why the voters aren’t in a bigger uproar over the changes.
I went to a Transgender Day Of Remembrance event planned and run by people who don’t identify as transgender, full of people who don’t identify as trans. They chose to stand up for transpeople against violence all on their own, following the sweep and growth of understanding.
My sister hired a transwoman to work for her putting out merchandise at a department store. People were a bit ragged with pronouns at first, but things settled down as they began to know her.
Transgender, it seems, is just another way people are. OK, yes, so what. Transgender.
I used to yell out loud that transgender people are not trying to lie about their sex, rather we are trying to tell the truth about our hearts. It was a huge and vital statement.
It seems like, with increased media visibility and a change in how we accept lesbian and gay people generally that message has gotten through. People are who they are and they can’t just change. Their expression isn’t rooted in illness, rather it is centred in the the truth of their creation, in their own authenticity.
For people like me and TBB who grew up in a world where we learned to police ourselves with fear, this is a huge change and still difficult. We have the scars of oppression carved deeply into us, so telling our stories is still intense and challenging. We know how much denial and abuse has cost us, how much womanhood we lost. We know that little UPS Stores in the Bible Belt can still be dangerous and damaging to us, know that we can still have our gender stripped from us and be left a freaky man-in-a-dress.
For younger & hotter people like ShamanGal, this “So What” attitude has opened doors and created possibilities that she never could have imagined when she first put herself in the box, declaring that being openly transgender would only come if she was broken and in the gutter first. She worked hard to make that outcome happened, but instead she blossomed.
TBB recently got very, very high marks on her job evaluation, acknowledged for her mature grace in knitting together a crew. She knows that a key to that success, knows that was has changed for her, is that she finally was able to knit together her life. Instead of being angry and upset, closeted and bipolar, she can use that big heart of hers to empower and lead other people, contributing so much more to the world than she ever could have when she was split and ragged.
I have recently been pushing myself to go out into the world more. I am always surprised when nobody screams and runs or points and laughs, just the same way that TBB noticed when she wasn’t seen as a freak in LAX. I have always understood the theory, but the practice, well, the practice was best left to others. Still, there have been moments where I almost forgot my fear and just walked as a woman, a transwoman in the world, moments where, as TBB has said “I realized I was just loose and happy and that scared me!”
“Sure. Trans. So what?”
It is such a change in the world that I haven’t really internalized it, but I am very, very grateful for it. Personally, I still feel the need to hear people tell me “Yes,” something I struggled with for a year and half, because just not saying “No” isn’t quite the same as saying “Yes,” especially to someone who grew up with so much no. I always scrape for affirmation and feedback.
Still, the world has very much stopped saying “no” to transpeople in the ways that it used to. We exist as more than freaks, exist as humans. So many more possibilities are open to transpeople coming out today.
And for that change, I am very grateful.