Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Be Part of the Solution

This is a no comment post. What does that mean? Well, it means it originally appeared as a guest post on a website but it didn't get any comments. I'm sharing it as a recycled post because I think it still has merit, and well, frankly I wrote the darn thing, so somebody should read it! LOL

This one originally appeared on Wet Dreams, as part of the Love is Love Tour, on Saturday, February 16, 2013 (there are six comments, but as you can see, they're all spam)

Be Part of the Solution by DC Juris

One of the questions I get asked a lot is "what is it like to be transgender?"

The answer I'd love to give is, "being transgender is just like being you or anyone else - I'm human first. I'm just like you."

It's not that cut and dry, though.

Unfortunately, our society, though much more open/accepting/tolerant than in the past, still doesn't fully embrace transgender people. A lot of that stems from a lack of education, but most of it stems from growing up being taught that the world revolves around gender roles, and the belief that anatomy concretely defines gender.

Most people take one look at me and think "female." They don't bother to stop and speak to me, to find out that my insides don't match my outsides. I guess, at the basest level, that's what being transgender is – having outsides that don't match your insides. Your body doesn't match your mind, heart, and soul.

Imagine for a moment that tomorrow you wake up in the body of the opposite gender. You're still you – same thoughts, feelings, beliefs, hobbies, ect. But your body doesn't match. People are referring to you by the wrong pronouns, calling you the wrong name. And no matter how many times you correct them or try to explain – hey, this is just a crazy mistake – no one believes you. No one takes you seriously. And even if they do, if you do something remotely "feminine" or "masculine" – anything that, in their eyes, defies what you've told them – they take that as "proof" that you're wrong or confused.

That's the reality of life for a lot of transgender people. It was the reality of life for me, for a while. I spent a good deal of my time spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. There were times when I thought to myself, "I might as well just put on a damned dress and be what everyone wants me to be. There's no point because no one takes me seriously as a man."

And then I met someone who did. Or at least, someone who didn't think I was a freak, or confused, or lying, or trying to get attention. I eventually married that person, and we're still together, even though he married a woman and now sleeps with a man. He understands that, beneath all the labels, I haven't really changed. He loves me – the inside. The mind, heart, and soul.

One person is really all it takes to change a life. One person was all it took the night I decided to end it all, and one person was all it took later on for me to realize I could be who I was meant to be, and it didn't mean losing everyone in my life. Mind you, I've lost a fair amount of family and friends because I'm transgender. More than I lost when I came out as bisexual. For some reason they could wrap their minds around me sleeping with both genders, but not me wanting to be a different one than I was born.

But I'm rambling. The point of this post is this: you are one person, but you can make a difference, and here are some ways:

Think before you use gender pronouns. How often do you speak to a complete stranger and start with "Ma'am" or "Sir"? Is that really necessary? How about "excuse me" or "pardon me" or something like that? No matter how the person is dressed, you don't truly know how they identify as far as gender. They may be simply wearing what they have to wear to blend in or not get fired or appease a family member.

Educate yourself. Don't just assume you know what it's like to be transgender, or what it means. Do some research, dig up some info. You may find that you don't have the first clue about what transgender life is like.

How often have you thought one of the following: "she's too fat for that outfit," "Lawdamighty what was she thinking wearing that?", "why doesn't he shave his beard – he looks stupid like that!" Let's be honest, we've all done that. We've all looked at someone else, shook our heads and wondered why a train wreck like that is allowed out in public. Well, stop. You don't know the first thing about that person. Maybe she's a transwoman, and the only clothes she can afford come from a thrift store. Maybe he's a transman, and he's in the middle of hormone therapy, and his body hair is all going crazy on him. The point is – stop judging other people. You're probably not perfect yourself.

Be kind, rewind. And no, I don't mean videotapes. I mean thoughts. Before you speak, rewind your thoughts in your head. Is what you're about to say going to be helpful, or are you just spouting ignorance?

Be inquisitive, but sensitive. Wanna know the number one question I get asked? It's "do you wear a penis all the time?" Now just who in the hell has the right to ask me that, and whose business is it anyway? If you're going to ask questions, which a lot (not all but a lot) of trans people encourage, do so in a way that's not insulting. Don't ask things like "how do you have sex?" Seriously? We have sex just like you do! A better phrasing might be, "I'm trying to understand your sexual options. Are there tools that are better or more functional?" (Hell, I don't know, but you get the idea!)

Be respectful of personal space. Just because a transperson is your friend, doesn’t mean they're comfortable with being touched. Like everyone else on the planet, transpeople have their own quirks. For us though, touch can be a bigger deal that most. Some transpeople, with or without surgery, aren't comfortable with certain parts of their bodies. Even being hugged can be traumatic. Keep that in mind.

And finally, if a transperson has told you their gender, use the right pronouns. Transmen are he, him, etc. Transwomen are she, her, etc. They are the gender they live and present as, not the one they are born with. NO MATTER HOW FEMININE OR MASCULINE THEY MIGHT LOOK TO YOU! I can't stress that enough. Don't use lame excuses like "I keep forgetting" or "you looked girly today." Stop forgetting. Make an conscious effort and be respectful of the effort they are making every moment of the day.

Here are some helpful resources for more information and education about transgender people and the issues we face.

(Some of them are overtly not safe for work, and I've indicated that in front of the link, but you should assume all of them might contain content you don't want your boss catching you looking at!)







1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the information. I hate to think I might have inadvertently hurt someone simply because I was taught to say Sir and Ma'am as a child. I will try to not use an honorifics in the future. OF course if told that anyone prefers a certain title I will use it. I myself have been looked at funny because I am a 'love the insides' kind of person. I believe that any love between consenting adults is a good thing. Gay, straight, poly, trans or questioning... it is all beautiful.