i have two transsexual (or transgender, or whatever term you prefer) friends that i consider myself close to, one who transitioned mtf and the other ftm, and i am stunned at how difficult little things in their lives are.
i'm thinking about it right now because another friend just posted a terrific message in a forum i frequent. here it is:
I am the guy who came out to the entire school in his senior speech and got a standing ovation for his courage.
I am the girl who kisses her girlfriend on the sidewalk and laughs at those who glare.
We are the couple who planned and studied and got a damn good lawyer and BEAT the state that wanted to take our child away.
We are the ones who took martial arts classes and carry pepper spray and are just too dangerous to gay bash.
I am the transgender person who uses the bathroom that suits me, and demands that any complaining staff explain their complaint to my face in front of the entire restaurant--and shares with my other trans friends which restaurants don't raise a stink.
I am the mother who told her lesbian daughter to invite her girlfriend over for dinner.
I am the father who punished his son for calling you a fag.
I am the preacher who told my congregation that love, not hate, is the definition of a true follower of God.
I am the girl who did not learn the meaning of "homosexual" until high school but never thought to question why two men might be kissing.
I am the woman who argues (quite loudly and vehemently) with the bigots who insist that you do not have the right to marry or raise children.
We are the high school class who agrees, unanimously, along with our teacher, that love should be all that matters.
If you agree, repost this. Do it. You don't have to be afraid. You can handle it. You're stronger than you think.
I am making a difference. Hate will not win.
so i've been thinking about the lives of my trans friends, and wishing there was something i could do to make it better or easier for them.
a simple example, something every one of us absolutely and totally takes for granted: which public bathroom to use. now that they're post-transition it's rarely a "big deal" to choose, but during the transition, it was HUGE. they never went into a public bathroom alone... for two years! if they went to the men's room and sat down to pee, they got strange and hostile looks, sometimes they were followed out and feared for their safety. if they went into the women's room, women would shriek and point and tell them they were in the wrong room, or whisper and giggle and make catty comments. these things didn't happen every single time, but it only has to happen once for you to fear it every time you put your hand on the door. living under that kind of apprehension of such a routine daily event is the stuff of PTSD.
another simple thing most people take for granted, like meeting and having a crush and dating... it's not that simple. at some point, you have to explain your history. when do you do that? do you introduce yourself that way? "hi, i'm kim. i'm a transwoman. cute shoes!" do you wait until you're into a date with them? "pass the breadsticks, please. in case you hadn't noticed, i'm a little on the butch side. well, that's because i was called ken until two years ago."
i'm bisexual, and i was recently lamenting the fact that i don't have "bi-dar" to go along with my "gay-dar". i can tell when women are amenable to a female advance, but i'm not good at telling with guys. in fact, i'm something of a "fag hag" and if i decide based on acquaintance-level knowledge that i'm interested in a man, chances are probably 70-30 he's gay. that doesn't hold true if i know the guys well, but that's a different story entirely and we don't have time to go into it in this post. count your blessings, gentle readers.
so, i was all set for a pity party about my absolutely absent sense of bi-dar, when i started talking about this to one of my trans friends. he's got it so much harder! how do you know whether someone is open to dating a transgendered person? there's no "open-minded-dar". if you've transitioned ftm, do you try to date lesbians or straight women? even someone who is very supportive of the political ideal and open-minded about the rights of trans-folk may not personally be interested in dating one. i know a woman who is very, very, politically lesbian. her lesbianism is a huge part of her identity, even though her attractions are pretty bisexual. she's also very supportive of the trans movement, but feels like she's undermining herself if she dates a transman. it's the ULTIMATE in the political open-mindedness scale, but it's the WORST political move to explain it. so from the outside, to people who don't know or investigate, it looks like she's sold out the party and started dating men, and is taking all the social and legal privileges that go along with that.
so that's why i'm writing all this, i guess... my ultimate aim is to humanize my transgendered friends in the minds of the people who read this. i want to take a stand and refuse to let hate and ignorance make life harder for them. would YOU date a transgendered person? you've probably never thought about it, but you should. you don't have to answer yes or no, just think about it. think about what it means, and if you don't know, do a little research. next time you see a "tranny" in the bar, don't refuse to make eye contact. don't shun him or her. if you're standing in line for a drink, make small talk, just like you would with anyone else. it matters. it makes a difference. it enriches your life.