The other day, someone posted a story from CNN, about a documentary called “Raising Ryland“, about a family who is raising a young transgender boy.
As someone who is transgender, I have a hard time actually commenting on other people talking about “us” – I know what it was like to grow up a girl who was called/considered a boy… and I actually might have some different perspectives, sometimes I just get annoyed… not sure exactly why, though, everyone needs to be talking about this stuff, it just feels like a lot doesn’t actually include trans people and their experiences…
The reality is, that we don’t live charmed lives, we’re not fluff pieces, we’re the tragedy, and this increased visibility is going to make things worse for trans adults, before it gets better, and we have targets on our backs…
I think the thing that annoys me is parents who accept who their children are, as trans, are not heroes; they are doing exactly what they should be as parents. This isn’t extraordinary, its the bare minimum I would expect from a good parent, yet we somehow hail them as heroes. Maybe this is just my perspective as both a parent, and as a trans person, but this putting parents who somehow do what their jobs are as parents up on a pedestal annoys the hell out of me.
It makes me feel like somehow raising a trans kid and loving them is somehow harder or that we’re deserving of less love, and that parents who love us are extraordinary. However, in my opinion, they are not. This is not news. Parents who react well to their trans child is not news. They are doing what they should be doing. Its not “above and beyond”, any more than raising any child is “above and beyond”. You make a decision to have a child, you also are committing to a lifetime of love, whether trans, gay, lesbian (sometimes combinations of), autistic, physically disabled, or whatever their difference might be.
Its frustrating to me that these things aren’t just *expected*.
I just feel like the media treats us as a circus.
“Take a look – there’s a Trans person – isn’t that cute?”
I mean I guess it’s better than “look – it’s a trans person – aren’t they a freak?”. That’s what it used to be. The closest thing to a realistic media portrayal has been Boys Don’t Cry – and to be honest that was traumatic to watch. Otherwise even these shows that are supposedly trans-forward are still not completely getting it right. It’s a spectacle, the centerpiece is “trans”. We’re normal people, not some side show. Even most of it concentrates on either how bad a person “passes” or how well they do, how beautiful they are. It’s not about that. It’s about just being us, no matter who that may be. There are lesbian trans women , gay trans men, butch trans women, femme trans men. There are those who ID as a third gender, no gender, or some combination of genders – gender is a spectrum – like neurological/brain wiring (like autism) is a spectrum. It’s a reverse bell curve – some lie along the curve in different places – but ultimately it’s just about accepting us as people – not as some curiosity.
And every day, even in NYC, one of the most progressive cities in the world, we are discriminated against. Our kids, our livelihoods, our families stripped from us. Afraid to wonder when I am going to be the next statistic, walking through the world like I own it, because it’s better than the alternative: running scared. The amount of us beaten, raped, and murdered is too high to comprehend, so we put it out of our minds, and try and live the best we can.
That is the Trans Experience – the reality of it – not fluff pieces and “isn’t that cute” or “isn’t that amazing”. I want a better world , but I am pretty sure that I may not see it in my lifetime. I’ve been an activist for a long time and I know the reality is it will be at least 2 generations before we’re considered “people” in the eyes of most.
I usually don’t express this stuff to be honest, for the reason above, it’s better to put it out of your head because the reality is too hard to swallow sometimes. It seems all the fluff pieces lately have gotten to me – I keep wanting to scream “this is not what it’s about!” – I keep thinking that “parents don’t deserve a medal for loving their trans kid” – because it gives an excuse for people being bad parents. They make it seem somehow extraordinary to love a trans child. These days – look at how we react to parents who don’t love their gay kids – we call them “bad parents”. However, if a parent loves their gay kid, it’s somewhat normal, we’re not breaking a parade out unless they do something extraordinary or above and beyond (Like any other parent). So why are we ready to reward parents with media attention just because they love their trans child enough to trust their feelings about who they are?
I just feel like its hard to talk about this stuff without a few trans voices in the mix, some of whom may disagree with me… but until we have trans voices talking about trans rights, in major media (and not just the attractive ones), I don’t think it will advance beyond this. The problem is, as trans people, we are angry, rightfully so… but nobody wants to hear the anger, they want to think of themselves as doing something, or being allies. Laws that protect us are completely unenforced. As parents, we are treated as defective, simply because we are trans or gender variant. As employees, we’re seen as “disruptive” simply for being who we are. Our lives are worth less when someone murders us, people citing “trans panic” in defense of hate crimes. In society, people look at us as some kind of side show (I mean just the use of the word “transgenders” – ugh, its not a noun, I am not “a transgender”, I am a transgender woman… it is an adjective) …. it destroys our identity in so many ways, while pretending to be allies.
When we are treated with the same human rights as everyone else, maybe this won’t be the reality. For now it is, and this is thw world we live in, and no amount of fluff, positivity in the same of being “enlightened” is going to change that until everyone sees us as equal and human, not curiosity.