By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/ TRT Columnist—
I was browsing through Facebook the other day and I saw a meme, “Telling a man you already have a ‘man’ won’t stop them from hitting on you, but if you say you used to be a man …” Most of the comments on that meme were from people who found laughter and some of those folks even said that it was a good idea to ward off unwanted advances from men in the future. After all, who wants to be with a woman who used to be a man? Whoa! There were so many things wrong with that meme and with the comments.
Evidently, there are some, if not many folks, who consider transgender women not worthy as partners. It doesn’t matter if the trans person may have spent their lives in hiding, in shame, with guilt, and with self-hatred because of the message they received from the world that being a trans person is awful, sick, twisted, and disgusting. The trans person may have worked through all those issues and they may now be able to live their life openly as a trans person, but evidently, they can’t even think for a minute that they could be desirable as a partner.
For a trans person to be partnered with someone is, apparently for some people, a joke in the least and, at best, a defense mechanism to ward off unwanted advances. Yes, the trans person may have come a long way in their personal journey to be and live authentically, but there are some other people who evidently have not come that far. In their minds, the trans person is still the gender assigned at birth and not seen as worthy of being a partner.
Before I go any further, I have to say that in the past ten years that there has been a growing number of people who do consider trans people to be worthy as partners. Some of these folks have coupled up with a trans partner or they have remained as a couple throughout the transition of the trans partner. To the folks who say that trans people are worthy as partners, I thank them from the bottom of my heart. To those folks who do have and love their trans partner, I thank them profusely from the bottom of my heart too. Yes, there truly are a growing number of folks who have coupled with a trans person. This could definitely signal that things are looking up for us. However, getting back to the Facebook meme, you might see just how far we haven’t come in the minds of some other folks.
So, what can we do about this issue? How can we educate people about trans people’s worthiness as partners? This might take time, but we shouldn’t give up. Ten years ago, just existing openly in public as a trans person was a radical statement. Today, trans people are seen just about everywhere. In that light, I’m thinking that the new, radical statement for today just might be trans people existing as partners in public. Seeing more and more trans people as partners in public is helpful. I really do believe in the Harvey Milk thought of “coming out, of being seen in public, of being visible.” Visibility shows normalness. The more we see trans people as partners in relationships, the easier it will be for cis folks to begin accepting trans people as partners.
In the meantime, there most likely will still be some offensive memes and non-acceptance of trans people as partners. Currently, I see only a relatively small number of trans people who may celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, but someday in the future, I hope to see many, many more transgender people celebrating Valentine’s Day. Trans people are, indeed, worthy of being partners.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.