Dear cisgender people, this is for you.
Transgender definition (Oxford Dictionary) – Denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.
So, what does it mean to be transgender? Well, it depends on who you ask because we’re a diverse group of people. However, one thing we agree on is that it means being your true self. It also means looking at unfavourable circumstances and still saying “I’m going to do this”, similar to you applying for that job that you thought was out of reach, or quitting your job and starting that business you always wanted to.
Multiply that anxiety by 10000 and square it. Because, if your business fails you’ll get a few I told you so’s and maybe lose some money, but in the grand scheme of things you’ll be fine. If your job application is rejected you can find another job.
But imagine if you succeed in doing what you want, scrap that, need to do and life gets unimaginably worse for you? Imagine a world where once you succeed in being yourself, society turns against you. That’s the bleak reality for virtually all transgender people, which is a damn shame, because we’re a lovely bunch who are not that different from you.
We have careers. We have hopes. We have fears. We have relationships. We have fears of spiders (well, some of us) We have our own concerns about Brexit. Does anyone actually know what is going to happen? How will it affect our economy? Can we still go on holiday to Spain?
We have our own heroes and role models such as the powerful Sylvia Rivera, and brilliant Marsha P Johnson. We have our own wonderful organisations that help us such as Stonewall and The Beaumont Society.
We have to come to terms with our bodies and minds being strangers when they’re supposed to be best friends. Imagine your brain looking at your body and wondering “Who on earth is this?” That’s essentially what we have to deal with on a daily basis before we transition. How would you deal with such a fierce cognitive dissonance between your mind and your body?
So we’re stuck between cyanide and nightshade.
Cyanide: Transition and face the unrelenting wrath of a society who on the whole don’t respect us, at all, and will put up countless barriers to us doing the most simple things. We mentioned that we have careers, which is true, but lord knows how much harder it is for us to do so.
Nightshade: Don’t transition and remain in the middle of a brutal internal physiological war which will destroy us eventually.
What would you choose? Whilst you’re busy picking your poison, we’re working to create antidotes.
- Hate crimes
- Mental health issues
- Lack of adequate representation in the media
As there are a lot of things in society that may seem harmless to you such as going to the gym, ticking your gender on an application form, going out to dinner, etc, sometimes mundane things are harmful to us. Being transgender can often mean walking around and virtually everything is labelled”danger”.
As a result we can be a bit cynical sometimes and we find it hard to trust people. So if you’re genuinely trying to help one of us, maybe your partner, your friend or your sibling, please don’t take it personally. The world isn’t built for us and we’ve had a lot of people let us down.
So we may be a bit on edge or snappy and dismissive of any promises you make us, because, like a woman who has a serial cheater as a partner… we’ve heard it all before, but nothing changed.
Speaking of hearing things, it would be nice if we didn’t hear trans phobic comments.
- You’re just a man in a dress.
- Are you pre-op or post-op?
- So you’re a tranny, right?
- Can I see it?
- You’re just a woman pretending to be a man.
- You’re just confused!
- You’re not a real man/woman.
If you disagree with our life choices that’s fine, just don’t shout hateful things at us. It won’t change our mind. Also, please don’t mention anything to do with religion, it doesn’t help your case, at all.
Some of us are religious too, we’re not going to burn in hell, although a lot of us have already been there. There isn’t any fire or an evil man with horns but there is isolation, being ostracised from your family, losing your job, financial ruin, suicidal thoughts…so you know…hell.
Sticks and stones break our bones, and words hurt can really our feelings. If you’re one of the few that truly support us, first off, we love you and please get in touch with us – we need your help to help ourselves.
As we’re roughly 1% of the global population, we can’t do this alone, we’ll need all the advocates and support we can get from the other 99%.
We are considered the third gender by some when in actuality, we just want to be considered the gender that we should have been at birth. So there’s that.
While it may seem as if it’s all doom and gloom. It’s not. It’s still an absolutely wonderful, liberating feeling when we finally embrace who we really are. We make up a small community of a wide range of amazing people which is part of the wider LGBT community. Often, when someone asks what’s your greatest achievement people say writing a book or starting a business, but for a lot of us, it’s simply being ourselves.
Until next time,
The GI COLLECTION team