Will it ever change?
Recently I was discussing the problems transgender people face in society with my boyfriend, and why a lot of transgender women resort to working in the sex industry to provide for themselves, and fund their transitions.
The catalyst for this was a confrontation I had with a trans friend who was stating that transgender people who have to resort to that are making bad life decisions even though they may have no other choice, and was crucifying those girls who were forced into this life because of the society they live in.
I was sort of shocked initially because for me, this is a personal matter. Not only do I know a lot of transgender women who have worked as escorts, or work in the sex industry, but I work as a camgirl. My personal feelings caused me to see this somewhat as an attack, but I tried to shove them down long enough to understand a different point of view than my own.
Throughout discussing things with him though, a variety of misconceptions came up. Although I don’t like to use labels such as cisgender and all of that all too often, I feel that in this specific instance it’s necessary to convey a point; my white, cisgender, heterosexual, and heteronormative lover failed to see that the America that he lives in is not the same one that I live in. It wasn’t by his own fault, either.
After discussing the discrimination transgender people face while highlighting the actions transgender people have attempted to do to fight for our rights, things started to piece together for him, and also for me.
In about the last 10 years in America, he could only find one documented case of a transgender person suing a corporation for discrimination, and actually winning. It has been reported that 90% of transgender people who have come out have faced discrimination in the workplace. Transgender people are unemployed at a 200% higher rate in relation to cisgender people, etcetera…..
This boils down to a few things. The fact that transgender people as a whole are not being adequately represented in the media, the media’s lack of actually wanting to take advocates seriously, and a general lack of healthcare provisions for transgender people seeking treatment.
All of this really bothers me because it highlights one very important thing that has always bothered me:
Transgender people most often aren’t taken seriously in regards to activistism groups, and as individuals because passable transgender people don’t want to come out, become activists, or reveal their past because there’s no reason for them to do so. The majority of transgender women for example that become activists are unpassable, and become activists because they face discrimination that passable transgender women no longer face daily. Transgender people who pass don’t see a reason to fight for change because they have been assimilated into a life where they no longer have to face said discrimination.
Now being transgender isn’t limited to people who are either hypermasculine, or hyperfeminine. Being passable, and attractive as the gender you’re physically transitioning into is a goal, and a hope, but not a necessity, or confirmation as to who you are. Personality traits as well as interests, and aesthetics are different for everyone.
That being said, since transgender women are more often the ones who do not pass without extensive work/general effort, and they’re also the ones who make up the majority of transgender activists, it’s no surprise that the media uses unpassable transwomen to fuel the agenda that we’re all just freaks with something wrong with us. They refuse to take us seriously because the people representing us in their eyes wouldn’t be perceived as women, and thus wouldn’t know what they’re talking about.
“That thing doesn’t even look like a woman. How could it be one?”
“You expect me to believe that just because he put on a dress, he’s a woman now?”
Generally this concept is disgusting at best, but I digress. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of ways that transgender people can offer transparency without sacrificing themselves, or their individual safety, but have come up blank.
I keep trying to tell myself that every major group that has been discriminated against has had to sacrifice things to offer progress, and gain rights. At the end of the day though it’s a problem that can’t easily be solved because once you’ve gained the ability to be passable, divulging your sex is almost entirely unnecessary.
As a transgender person you don’t have the luxury of hiding for all that long before you decide to transition, and it’s also not as easy as you might think to hide your past. To actually be able to do much of anything you would have had to transition young, work your ass off, be passable in most every way, and become a fairly successful person. At which point to enact change you would then have to come out, and face discrimination from a large amount of people anyways. Throwing everything you worked for out the window.
Even negating the thought of similar consequences, the pre-requisites you would have to reach to even get to that point, as well as the general amount of transgender people that exist, the amount of people who can actually do much for positive change is a fairly low one.
It’s all just bullshit.
I understand that no one that has sacrificed that much, and worked that hard would want to come out as a transgender woman because of the stereotypes that exist about us. You wouldn’t want to transition into a beautiful woman, and then after it’s all said and done, be seen as a tranny. At the same time though, I can’t see any other way to actually do anything.
It may be true that you will always be transgender, but that’s just personal acceptance. I’m honestly starting to lose hope. My boyfriend who is a soldier, who defends and loves his country is horrified by this, and is in about the same position as I am.
If you really think about it, it’s easy to see why we’re treated the way we are.
Information for Parents of Trans* People
Many parents struggle when their child tells them they are trans*. A lot parents go through the “stages of grief.” These stages can be tough for everyone. While some parents will be unwilling to learn anything many parents just need some direction and help. So here is a list of books, websites, and other information they might need or that might help them understand.
Books and Other Reading Material
- The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals by Stephanie A. Brill and Rachel Pepper [buy on amazon]
- True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism for Families, Friends, Coworkers, and Helping Professionals by Mildred L. Brown and Chloe Ann Rounsley [summary here]
- Mom, I need to be a Girl by Just Evelyn [PDF here]
- Our Trans Children by the Transgender Network of PFLAG [PDF here]
- Why Don’t You Tell Them I’m a Boy? Raising a Gender Non-Conforming Child by Florence Dillon [PDF here]
- Gender Born, Gender Made: Raising Healthy Gender Non-Conforming Children by Diane Ehrensaft [buy on amazon]
- Helping Your Transgender Teen: A Guide for Parents by Irwin Krieger [buy on amazon]
Websites and Blogs
- TransYouth Family Allies
- Gender Spectrum
- Advocates for Youth “Ten Tips for Parents of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender Child” Page
- The Gender Center
- PFLAG TNET
- PFLAG Mom
- Mother of a Transgender Child
- My Secret Self: A Story of Transgender Children
- Living a Transgender Childhood
- The Story of Jazz
- I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition
- Becoming Me
- Transgender Children on Tyra [part 1, 2, 3, and 4]
This list is by no means complete. Feel free to add any information or suggestions.