Is trans a BFD? Is it a Big Fucking Deal?
For anyone who grew up feeling that they had to hide their own trans nature, that shaming pressure to deny our own heart to be accepted and get the social support we needed was all based around the idea that trans is a BFD.
For anyone who would be ashamed of having to explain that somehow their child, their sibling was broken, was queer and deluded enough to walk away from the gender assigned to their biology, trans is a BFD.
For anyone who is fighting their own internal gender issues, who feels the need to aggressively demonstrate their own gender role, for example acting macho to assert their own masculinity, then trans can be a BFD.
For anyone who wants to rally their church against perversion and sickness by demanding the enforcement of binary, strict and separate gender roles for political and economic purposes, trans is a BFD.
For those who have less skin in the game, though, those who don’t feel the need to enforce rigid gender roles, trans is not really a BFD. People who violate gender expectations are more a novelty than an abomination, something to be noticed and commented on rather than being purged.
Today, more than ever before, trans just isn’t a BFD for most people.
This is an interesting understanding for a transperson to take on when we walk in the world. It lets us feel safer and be more relaxed, allows us to let our guard down, which is a good thing if we want to be open and connected in the world.
The problem that is hard to explain, though, to those people around us who don’t understand why we think trans is a BFD while they don’t, is that somewhere, sometime, we are pretty well guaranteed to meet someone who does think trans is a BFD.
If they think trans is a BFD and we don’t, they feel that they have the right to explain the error of our ways.
Some feel entitled to do the godly work of keeping small, vulnerable children from seeing queers who could sexually damage them.
Some feel entitled to assume normativity, papering their assumptions over us and then to feel betrayed and hurt when it is revealed we aren’t just what they expected.
Some feel entitled to do the personal work of explaining at a support group just just how much their life has been destroyed by being trans, how it is a BFD and always will be,
Some feel entitled to enforce political correctness, shaming others for not understanding how interlocking oppression and the refusal to surrender our voice to others who are more abject than we are is a BFD.
Some feel entitled to work to silence anyone who wants to talk about transgender in a way that counters their explanation, demanding that others respect and support their assertions while refusing to support others, because their trans is a BFD.
The third gotcha we all wait for is ending up facing someone who believes that trans is a BFD so they have the right to erase us and overwrite is with their own meaning.
When we do feel made invisible and mowed down, to us that is always a BFD.
More and more, trans isn’t the BFD we were taught it was when we were scared and shamed into hiding our tender trans hearts, when we learned to desperately police our own choices, stiffening up by placing a big broomstick up our butt.
But sometimes, sometimes, we run into someone who is sure that trans is a BFD and feels entitled to retrain us in that understanding.
At that moment, we remember how playing small, avoiding stigma and humiliation has cost us, the price we paid for attenuating ourselves in the world, and all the pain we have never really been able to explain or release. We mourn for what we lost, for the price of broken and twisted mirroring, and we remember that for us, a trans life has been a BFD.
The goal for trans liberation is making a world where transpeople are respected and valued because their transness isn’t a BFD, but rather just a way some people are, a way some people have always been, a way that brings benefits of diversity and connection to the group.
We have to not let trans be a BFD in our lives, first, so just being trans doesn’t stop us from sharing in the world.
As long as others feel entitled to remind us that trans is a BFD, though, entitled to retrain us to their way of thinking, the threat of them acting on their assertion that trans is a BFD will always put a chill on our safety and freedom.
It’s hard to explain this to people who aren’t trans and don’t now think that trans is a BFD anymore, but for anyone who has been verbally, spiritually, politically, or physically assaulted for being trans, well, the stress of waiting for the third gotcha is a BFD.
Even if our trans nature is just part of our beautiful humanity and really is no BFD at all.