Skip to main content

I'd like people to read an Op-ed by Lucian Clark that was published in the Advocate  this morning:  Why Are Narratives Around Transgender People Always So Negative?

Clark has his own website, called Gender Terror.

People like me are terrors to people who hate trans* people.  My very existence shatters many of their beliefs.  I literally terrorize their definitions.
Similarly, my own Tuesday column, which I label Gender Prison is not about any prison I am locked in.  It is about the prison you allow yourself to be incarcerated in...which I attempt to point out...because your imprisonment always works to our detriment.

I hope people have noticed that I search for positive news stories about us to mix in with the usual stories of us being assaulted and/or murdered.  I mean, we can't ignore what happens to people like Islan Nettles and Cece McDonald and the others who have gotten less coverage…but whose lives are nonetheless deserving of having their existence acknowledged.  But it is necessary to also share the lives of those who are…or could be…role models for the transpeople who are struggling to build meaningful lives.

I'm proud to be a transsexual mathematics professor.  And I'm not the only one.  One of my fellow graduate students at the University of Oregon in the late 70s and early 80s also turned out to be a transwoman.  How rare must that have been?  Did we know about each other at the time?  Definitely not.

Clark acknowledges that we bring some of the negativity on ourselves.

And it's not only limited to media either.  Many trans* people use words like “trapped in the wrong body” to describe our experience.  Words like "wrong," "incorrect," and "painful" are prevalent in how we describe ourselves.  Depression and suffering are not only things we have come to expect, but also ways we define ourselves and our experiences.  Too many people do not believe that someone cannot be trans* without enduring the suffering and mental anguish that comes with feeling there is something inherently wrong about who you are and the body you were given.
Clark points out that this characterization of us all too easily is internalized.  We can quickly start believing and living it, feeling that we are only worthy if we are hyperfeminine women or hypermasculine men.  
Positivity is not portrayed often, if at all.  Even stories of triumph are tainted.  They are portrayed as the one, the few, the unique circumstance of a trans* person actually making something of themselves.  They are the rarity, the oddity.  If a trans* person's partner does not leave them after transition, for example, the story focuses on the strife, the struggle.  The story focuses on how it is uncommon.  What does this tell the generation of trans* people just growing up or just coming out?  That we are unworthy of love?  That love will be a hard find for us?  The most recent strain of articles about how there are cis people who even consider us as partners as someone worth dating, loving, and even having sex with, only further emphasizes this point.  With this type of narrative, it is no wonder that trans* people feel so hopeless, unloved, and unwanted by society.

This needs to stop.  Being trans* is not synonymous with self-hatred.  It needs to be synonymous with self-love and self-care.  Trans* people love themselves so much that they do whatever it takes to become themselves.  We love ourselves so much that we sometimes risk life and limb to simply exist.  Our transitions are necessity, done out of love for self and love for life.

We need to let those of us know who are stumbling and struggling that we are worth all the world has to offer everyone else.  We are worthy of acceptance.  We are worthy of existing in this world, just like anyone else.  We matter.  Our stories matter.

Loving us is not some burden.  Our transitions are not done due to self-hatred.  We are not reserved to pain, suffering, and a life of being pitied.  We deserve basic human respect and dignity because we are human.

The negative stories will still be shared.  This society does not accept us as worthy sentients.  The transphobia and transmisogyny is rampant.  That cannot be ignored.
It would be foolish to say anything else.  To do so would be to paint the world with rainbows and unicorns, glitz, glam, and sunshine.
Trans people are more likely to be the targets of violence, joblessness, homelessness, and poor health care, both mental and physical.  Trans women of color suffer this to an even greater extent than the rest of us.  ut that is not all we should be sharing.
These are the stories we are telling trans* people who are just finding themselves.  These are the stories we are giving our children to look forward to.  We are telling those who will come after us that they only have pain to look forward to.  This is unacceptable.

While there will be pain, there will also be happiness.  There is the possibility for success.  There is the possibility for a life well lived.  We need these stories alongside the stories of the negative.  There needs to be a balance.  There needs to be sun, at least even occasionally, through the rain clouds.

Understandably, without rain there cannot be a rainbow, but we need at least a little sun for that to be possible.

On this week of Valentine's Day, we need to think about sharing and spreading the the love…even as the storm approaches.  It is the love we can generate and the love we can provide that will help to protect us from that storm.
Our lives are worth so much more than pain.  Our stories are filled with so much more than suffering.  Our trans* identities are so much more varying and unique than the harsh and shrill cry we are giving them.  There is so much more depth to our existences.  So much more depth to the lives we lead.  We need to start doing ourselves the love we deserve.

Nurture the Love

Originally posted to TransAction on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 04:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Voices on the Square and LGBT Kos Community.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site