Friday, July 1, 2011

Pride?

Well, Pride month is over and I find myself asking just what, exactly, am I supposed to be proud of? I honestly don't know, maybe someone can explain it to me. I can't say that I'm proud of being transsexual, I'm not ashamed of it, either, it is what it is. I'm also not proud that the sky is blue or that grass is green. Should I be proud to have a condition that, by some estimates, 1:500 people have? Are people proud of being blind? Diabetic? Clubfooted? I consider being born transsexual to be an unfortunate circumstance, one which I hope to correct at some point.

Should I be proud that over 50% of us attempt suicide before age 20? Should I be proud that over 31% of us succeed in doing so? Should I be proud that my life has been marginally good enough to keep me from killing myself? (Not that the thought never crossed my mind!) Should I be proud that we're 16 times more likely to be the victims of a hate crime? (this estimate sounds a bit high, but maybe?) Should I be proud that because of a healthy degree of caution on my part, with a heaping helping of plain old-fashioned dumb luck, that I haven't become a statistic yet? Should I be proud that this could be the last thing that someone ever reads?

Should I be proud that many of us live far below the poverty line? Should I be proud that many of us become unemployed, underemployed, unemployable, and homeless just for being who we are? Should I be proud that some of us have to sell our bodies just to survive? Should I be proud that life saving emergency medical treatment can be denied or delayed if it's discovered that we're transsexual? Should I be proud that most insurance companies won't even pay one thin dimes worth of transition costs? Should I be proud that many of us risk our lives and our health by resorting to DIY HRT and silicon ''pumping parties'' because of the outrageously high financial cost of doing transition the right way, and the ridiculous hoops that some ''gatekeepers'' make people jump through? Should I be proud that we barely rate high enough to be considered third rate citizens? Animals are treated better!

Should I be proud of how the media constantly misrepresents us to society? Should I be proud that some of us actually help to perpetuate the misconceptions? There's an old phrase that bears repeating; one ''Oh, fuck!'' wipes out at least ten ''Atta girls!'' (or ''Atta boys!''), and we have more than our fair share of ''Oh, fuck!'' moments. Should I be proud that, year in and year out, the public face of trans in Pride events worldwide is gay men in really, really bad drag? Should I be proud of the constant freak show on Springer? Should I be proud of the clown who jets around the country wearing nothing but a bra and panties? It's no wonder that the cisgender have bathroom panic! Yeah, I know, lighten up, it's just in good fun, after all, Blackface and mocking the handicaped is hysterically funny, too, right?

Making ourselves look like circus sideshow attractions every June doesn't do anything to help us. Let me make one thing really, really clear; in-your-face, out, loud, and proud has never, and will never, accomplish anything but creating backlash from mainstream society. Gays and lesbians have achieved what they have in the last 40 years not because of pride, but in spite of it.

Dani xxx

5 comments:

Caroline said...

Quit right, nothing to be ashamed about but nothing to be proud about either.

The human race is painfully slow to evolve to see the blindingly obvious so doubt that we shall be totally accepted in my lifetime but there is enough acceptance for it to work far better than I ever imagined it would.

Anne said...

"Let me make one thing really, really clear; in-your-face, out, loud, and proud has never, and will never, accomplish anything but creating backlash from mainstream society"

BRILLIANT !

Thank you for your honest assessment.

Anne

Rhiann Christina said...

I’m sorry that your experiences have led you to the points you’re making. Mine have led me somewhere very different, and no one was more surprised than I was. When I transitioned, I expected backlash from mainstream society, I expected ostracism at work. And though there are many things about being transsexual that are unavoidably arduous, the vast majority of the people I encounter every day treat me with dignity and respect and very clearly consider me a woman.

Seeing that made me decide, somewhat uniquely, that I want people to know I’m a transsexual. Going from pretending I was a man to pretending I was born female-bodied feels to me like going from one closet into another, from hiding my possible future to hiding my past.

The kind of situation you describe, “in-your-face, out, loud, and proud has never, and will never, accomplish anything but creating backlash from mainstream society” would probably be true if society never got to see any happy, successful, good-hearted transsexuals because all of us were passing so well. It allows the people who want to paint us as freaks on the outskirts of society to do so, because there are so few examples out there to use to argue against them. I wouldn’t dispute any transwoman’s choice to try to pass, by all means, if that’s what feels right for you, then follow your bliss, but I think that if one chooses to live openly, they can make a very strong impact on the world.

I’m a college instructor. When I was an undergraduate, I firmly believed that I had to hide my identity at all costs, that I couldn’t transition, not if I wanted to be successful, not if I wanted to be loved. In part, that came from the fact that I didn’t have any trans role models in my life. If I had, if I had been able to see that someone can be transsexual and happy and successful, I might have reached my own happiness a lot sooner. I’ve had many students come out to me as gay, and I had one come out to me as trans, and he told me in these precise words, “You make me feel like life is possible.” I was overwhelmed. And for everyone else, they can at least see that a transsexual is not necessarily a prostitute or a sexual predator.

I’m not saying that the world isn’t a hard place, exactly as you describe. But I would passionately disagree with the acceptance that it always will be. The world has changed drastically in the last fifteen years alone; the things I see happening today for transpeople were unimaginable when I was young. It makes me think that an awful lot more is possible in the coming decades. Since you mention blackface: the suggestion that we should pass and live stealth, that this is the only way to be treated well by the rest of the world, is a little like telling African Americans that they should put on full body makeup every day and try their best to pass as white. If it worked, yeah, they would avoid abuse from racists. But does that mean that’s the right answer? The problem isn’t with African Americans, the problem is racists. Likewise, the problem isn’t with transsexuals, the problem is intolerance.

Look at your three body paragraphs (sorry, did I mention I’m an English teacher?). Your thesis is that transsexuals should not be proud. However, your body paragraphs point out what’s wrong with the cisgendered world, not anything that’s wrong with transsexuals. Even the suicide rate is heavily influenced by an intolerant culture. The condition is painful in and of itself, but environment makes a difference.

Hiding sends the message that we have something that should be hidden. I don’t. Rather, since I’m very proud of who I am in general, and since the experience of being transsexual is an intense one which has shaped and molded who I am, I must say I’m proud of being transsexual as well. I’m not trying to tell you to feel pride if you don’t feel you should. But for those of us who do, who are proud, do you really need to drag us down? How are we hurting you?

RC

Ariel said...

I'm with you, Dani. I haven't gone near a Pride parade in years. I think they have become counter-productive for lesbian and gay people, never mind trans-whatever people. It's heresy to say so though. Someone did a while ago, in all seriousness, at Bilerico. I thought he made excellent points. He was either shouted down or laughed at. That's the state of "pride" right now. It was modelled after Mardi Gras, and Mardi Gras is fun. But it has never moved beyond that.

Being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is nothing to be ashamed of. Most go about being proud of who they are in quite different ways than dancing on floats and doing bad drag.

Maybe being gender-variant is related in some what to being gay. Being transsexual is not. Transsexualism is a birth condition that we work to overcome. A gender-variant person might come to embrace their gender-variance, but a transsexual changes sex. And in doing so, the person leaves their birth condition behind, and happily so.

It sounds like you're working toward that, and I wish you the best. Be proud of having gotten this far, and please hang in there. "It gets better" when you can get past it all.

Miz Know-It-All said...

Dani,

You're right on the money except for two things... One is the whole trans thing and the other is the numbers... Fraid the binary is pretty darn fixed and there is no such thing as "trans..." an innie is an innie and an outtie is an outtie and never shall the twain meet, well other than for sexual congress... Can't tell where my mind is this morning can you?

Anyway... To the world you is either a boy or you is a girl and that is that... Now about those numbers! It looks like you are using Lynn's numbers... Sorry but she is dead wrong and as a scientist she should be ashamed for putting that bit of statistical manipulation out there! Take away the millions of crossdressers and the hundreds of thousands of non ops and you'll find yourself right back at Benjamin's numbers! We are in fact quite RARE!

@ Caroline and Riann Acceptance is a myth! You are assuming that because folks are not chasing you down the street as a mob with pitch forks and torches shouting for death to the monster mean's you are accepted as a woman! That dear's is called tolerance and it is all you are ever going to get with a known history!

Acceptance as a woman without any hyphenation does happen but it only happens when your history is YOUR history and not interesting fodder for the curious! Think me wrong?

Ever had someone try and fix you up with their brother if they knew? That dear ones is the mark of true acceptance as a woman! I don't think you need hold your breath waiting as long as we have others out there in the street marching on our behalf as "other than" now do we?