Dealing With Transphobia and Not Having to out Yourself in the Process
I am confident that most of the partners out there can relate to this story, or a similar situation. You are at work and you walk into the break room to hear two coworkers spewing hateful rhetoric about transgender folks. Your heart drops into your stomach. Your temperature rises and can feel your blood boil. However, you have only confided in one really good friend at work that your partner has come out to you as transgender. She knows everything, she is super supportive, and you are grateful for her discretion. But these a-holes at work are driving you nuts. So what do you do?
I have been in this situation many times and in many different places. In the doctor’s office, a supermarket checkout line, and in the company of acquaintances who did not know what was going on in my private life. In the beginning of my wife's transition, I was extremely protective of her. After we were out to our families, we came out publicly on social media. Following that, anyone who said anything negative was going to get an angry earful from me. They were speaking about a topic they knew nothing about, and their ignorance was infuriating.
"A PHOBIA IS AN EXTREME OR IRRATIONAL FEAR OF SOMETHING."
A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of something. So that means that there are people out in the world who are afraid of not only my transgender wife, but also our non-binary, and genderfluid friends. When I say that out loud to myself it sounds so foolish. How is this kind of bigotry acceptable? For me it isn't. I have on more than one occasion showed people a photo of my wife. After they make a positive complement about her looks or her gorgeous hair, I then tell them that she is transgender. One woman said to me "well she looks like a normal woman," and in my head I scream, “No shit! She is a woman.”
I examine each situation and deal with it accordingly. If the person seems unhinged and my safety is in jeopardy, I say nothing. My welfare and the wellbeing of my wife and family come first. I keep my anger in check. If I do not feel comfortable to out my wife and myself, I simply say that I have a family member who is transgender. For some odd reason I feel as though they take you more seriously when you connect yourself to knowing a real trans person. Then I continue and tell them in the nicest way possible that what they are saying is hurtful and offensive. Some people are open to learn, while others are just happy living in their ignorance.
My hope is that one day we won't have to educate people about what it means to be transgender. Every person everywhere will just know. The stereotypes will vanish, and the prejudices will be replaced by love and acceptance. I have found my youngest daughter's generation to be most tolerant. She is a senior in high school, and it just seems like they are more excepting of each other. Of course there are still bigots, but as a whole they are more open. So whenever the opportunity presents itself I hope we all remember that education is the key to understanding, and that love and kindness are contagious.