Dear Michelle Rodriguez
By Jude Samson
Dear Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, et al.:
I fear that too often when a passionate subject is brought up, we’re all prone to attacking rather than discussing and therein our responses are to automatically go on the defensive rather than actually hearing and learning. Allow me to break down some comments that you’ve made in the hopes of allowing you and all others who may not fully understand the entire scope of the situation. This way we can perhaps open a more productive dialogue.
Please do not tell us to “chill out” when we’re expressing our hurt, disappointment, disapproval, or general dismay. We are allowed to feel how we want and we are allowed to express it. Alternatively, it is not fair for us to attack you in return and in that regard both sides need to respect each other. You repeatedly stated that you did this film because you were bored with Hollywood and perhaps you thought this would charge the atmosphere. Well, it did albeit not for the reasons you intended. But you wanted to create a stir so now you need to respect the outcome.
Please understand that sexuality (i.e. lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, demisexual, etc) is who you want to be in a relationship/intimate with while gender is who you are – if we’re going to stick with the most simplistic way of defining the two, although there’s just so much more to it. The common mistake of lumping the two together is a battle we fight against constantly. When you say things like you being bisexual makes you one of us and that somehow your sexuality affords you personal insight into our gender struggles or when you say “…decided to take their transgender operation and use it on heterosexual people,” we are outraged and confused. In one statement you are proudly touting your bisexuality yet in the next statement you’re talking about being heterosexual. Regardless of your intent with that confusing mix of sexuality references the point is, again, sexuality and gender are separate things entirely and therein your reference is just layered with misunderstanding and errors.
Additionally, making flippant statements such as “…they don’t own the patent on sex changes,” is heartless and cruel. While you’re correct in that we do not “own the patent” on gender affirming surgeries, we have found and continue to fight a dangerous and up-hill battle against the medical community, insurance companies, state governments, and everything else in between to get recognized and get covered medically.
While you may not have to be concerned with finding the money to pay for outrageously expensive and on-going medical expenses, the rest of us are struggling every day to get our insurance companies to cover our needs – and that’s the lucky group that even has medical insurance. Without insurance coverage others are fighting even harder to get the care and services they need. They are failing to get that care (with or without insurance) while many have become so distraught and so overcome that they’ve taken their own lives. No, we don’t own the patent on it, but if it weren’t for us fighting every single day for these services, they wouldn’t be out there for you and others to exploit. When you don’t acknowledge the actual blood, sweat, and tears that went into getting gender affirming care out there, that’s when your words become hurtful.
While our community is fairly divided about Caitlyn Jenner overall (given her various faux pas statements) we will band together to inform you that her name is Caitlyn Jenner, not Kris (that’s her ex-wife) and to refer to her using any other pronouns other than she/her is degrading, emotionally hurtfuland just plainly disrespectful. Any time a trans person is misgendered (as you did with Caitlyn), it can create a whirlwind of emotional conflict, increased dysphoria and an overall sense that this person means absolutely nothing to you. While you may not know Caitlyn, and we don’t know you and vice versa, we are all human beings that deserve to be acknowledged as such.
While it is appreciated that you realize transitioning is an emotional and psychological journey you seem to misunderstand most other aspects. It has not been called a sex change in some time, but rather is more commonly referred to as gender affirming surgery since GRS/SRS (gender reassignment surgery/sex reassignment surgery) is also no longer considered accurate. Additionally, while the term “hermaphrodite” is still used a lot within the scientific community, it is not appropriate to use in general. The more appropriate term is intersex and a brief period of wearing a costume that you can remove at-will and with ease cannot give you any level of insight into what it truly means to be an intersex person or their personal struggles in relation to being intersex.
In general, please stop being so confrontational and dismissive. Take a moment to engage with us, learn from us and you may begin to understand why this is so disheartening and troubling. While I would be happy to sit and speak with either of you, or anyone for that matter, to provide that education and insight or take you through a day in our lives, the important matter is that you should find someone to talk to. Seek out your local HRC chapter and connect with the community and learn about us before you dismiss and denigrate us.
Let’s educate and not hate.