What Trans “Community?”
by Jude Samson
While there was some snipping and snapping from lesbians to gays and gays to lesbians at times, and the gays and lesbians sometimes excluding the bisexuals, there seemed to be an overall rallying together and sense of togetherness. This also becomes abundantly clear when something happens – such as a vicious attack (i.e. Matthew Shepard or the most recent Pulse shooting) or a strong forward momentum such as equality laws going before the courts in a particular state or when it became a national right for us to marry.
But what about the Trans “Community?” Honestly? I’d say we need to get our act together! This is why:
Trans folks have been repressed far longer than the LGB community. While we’ve always been out there, it’s been in very few numbers, especially in comparison to the LGB numbers. Now, I don’t want to trivialize the LGB struggles or seem detached from them because I identified as a lesbian for 20 years before transitioning and my sexuality has grown alongside that. But right now this massive momentum for equal rights is rolling through our society and the trans folks are scrambling to get on board. I say scrambling because it seems to be exactly that. There seems to be little sense of direction, almost no cohesion, nearly no sense of togetherness and no one knows what they want, how they want it, or even what to call anything.
“WE NEED TO FIRST FIGURE OUT OUR OWN DAMN VOCABULARY BEFORE WE CAN DEMAND ANYONE ELSE FIGURE OUT HOW TO SPEAK TO/ABOUT US.”
One day it’s fine to say “born as” but tomorrow it’s considered negating a person’s true identity. Yesterday it was okay to say transsexual, now today that’s unacceptable, but then tomorrow it’s okay again. Today it’s one thing and tomorrow it’s another. We need to first figure out our own damn vocabulary before we can demand anyone else figure out how to speak to/about us.
From there, we need to stop backbiting each other. I’m on several different trans groups on Facebook and while there’s a good deal of patting everyone’s back and general comments of support or congratulations, there is an amazing amount of internal attacking. There seems to be so much energy and even hatred being formed because we want to demand respect and rights for how person “A” feels, but if person “B” feels or sees themselves as anything else the attacks start. We are trying to allow for the greatest amount of fluidity and expression, but have now found ourselves so incredibly spread thin that we have no common ground to stand on, so we keep scrambling around trying to get our acts together and then getting upset when the rest of the world is just shaking its head at us.
Chances are you may not have heard about Brae Carnes, but she is the one who started the viral picture of taking a picture of herself in a men’s restroom in Canada and then Michael Hughes took a picture of himself in the women’s bathroom and added #WeJustNeedToPee. Because of legislation in Canada and in several states here in the U.S., lawmakers are trying to force trans people to use the bathrooms in accordance with the gender in which they were assigned at birth (or the bathroom that matches their genitalia), with some states and lawmakers coming up with extreme ideas such as genetic testing prior to entering a bathroom! Carnes and Hughes took the images to show the ridiculousness of these laws and how insane it would be to put trans people through this. These bogus laws or “bathroom bills” such as the one in North Carolina seem to be primarily geared towards “non-passing” trans women – those trans women who aren’t “stealth” or the image you would see when watching Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent (which had a scene about Tambor’s character trying to use the women’s restroom). Whether the person “passes” or not, the laws should be geared towards the safety of all trans people, not an attempt to alienate them.
“…I WANT TO TALK ABOUT HOW THERE’S NO INTERNAL SUPPORT AMONG THE TRANS ‘COMMUNITY’.”
I don’t want to digress into the bathroom laws/bills as we’ve covered this continually as new information becomes available and that isn’t the scope of this article. Instead, I want to talk about how there’s no internal support among the trans “community.” Michael Hughes took the picture and outed himself (as he was living stealth before) to draw a very striking reality to what these laws would wind up becoming.
Did we appreciate his efforts? Most people did. But, of course, there just HAD to be that chunk of folks out there that attacked him. Yes, trans people went at Michael’s attempts because they felt he was trying to make the issue about trans men and that took the attention away from trans women. Okay, first off – it’s about trans people because if these laws pass (which they have started to get put through in several places), it will impact both men and women. Secondly, how about applauding someone who put his own life and family on the line to draw such striking attention to the situation instead of bashing him… and bashing one of your own, at that?
What about Caitlyn Jenner? Granted, most of us have some pretty intense thoughts and feelings regarding the entire situation whether we love her or not. Whatever your opinion of her may be, the fact that some had the audacity to denounce her transition and refuse to acknowledge her as a female or continued to refer to her as “he” or “Bruce” was astounding. How could people who struggle with this very assault everyday use that same tactic against someone else simply because they don’t like that person? It was hypocrisy at its ultimate.
We need to get ourselves united. I know there’s call to drop the T and I from the LGB, but right now I think we really need to be united. While the ‘alphabet soup’ of the acronym is getting out of control with more and more letters being added, it doesn’t matter how few or how many we attach to it. We need to be united, we need to work together and at the same time as we’re fighting for equality for the LGB, we need to be organizing ourselves as quickly as possible because now is the time to strike and fight back. The LGB is like charging under Braveheart while we trans-folk are Monty Python knights. Let’s get it together everyone! Stop the infighting, join the cause and let’s become recognized as people that demand and deserve to be treated as equal human beings.
Stop the Hate!