By: Lorelei Erisis/TRT Columnist–
First of all, I Love You. All of you.
But I’m angry. Angry that there are those who suffer simply for who they are or who they like. Angry that I even need to remind people that I might be angry. Angry that I need to explain myself, my gender, my sexuality.
Angry that I, and those like me, my sisters and brothers, zisters and others, are not yet free to simply live our lives. Love who we will. Marry, fight and f$#k who we choose. Wear the clothes we are comfortable in. Be the gender we know to be right.
If we are wrong about any of those things, to have the freedom to pick ourselves up, try again and reinvent ourselves until we do get it right. To be the judge of what that “right” is.
Isn’t that the American Dream?
I like to joke that basically what I do for a living is answer all those crazy questions people have about trans people while trying not to lose my temper.
This is the 50th “Ask A Transwoman” column I’ve written here in The Rainbow Times. At a thousand words a column, more before my editor wisely decided it would be best if I didn’t attempt the Great Transgender Novel in every issue, that’s a couple miles of column inches dedicated to my particular perspective on being Trans (and Queer and Kinky and …).
When I tell people in social situations that I write a column about transgender people and issues, I almost always get one of two questions. “What’s the most common question you get?” and, “What’s the worst question you’ve ever gotten?”
The answer to the first is pretty simple. Though you won’t find any columns written in answer to it, any regular reader probably knows my answer already: No, I have not had “the surgery” and I still haven’t decided if I will. Heck, I haven’t even decided if I’ll decide!
The second question though, that’s always the hard one. First of all, my “questions” come from all over the place. To keep things interesting and diverse, I get a lot of them from my sprawling social media reach. I get some from people who find my email address, some through this paper, some from my glorious friends who think too much and some from strangers on the street.
The simple answer is there is no single question which rises to the top as the most offensive. The complicated answer though, is that it is not a single question, but an attitude toward trans people generally that I have found to be the most offensive.
Often, throughout the life of this column, I have found myself answering a lot of questions from folks who seem somehow angry about transpeople. Somehow offended at our very existence. Feel we are traitors, frauds even.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, half the trick of this columnist gig is simply not losing my temper. The thing is, I know there’s some pretty awful questions and attitudes out there, but I want you to ask them of me. If nobody answers them, is willing to clear away the misconceptions, the misguided assumptions, and deal directly with the reality of simple human curiosity, then we will never have mutual understanding. We cannot find common ground. Fear and ignorance will rule the day.
Still though, the idea that I have to defend the very existence of my people, that we must be explained and justified, sometimes sticks in my throat. That I must constantly remind people that transmen, transwomen, genderqueer, gender variant and intersex people are … People. That is what keeps me awake nights.
And it is why I write. Why I speak, teach and march.
I don’t want you to think this is just about anger though. As I said at the beginning, I Love You. All of you. I mean that.
Anger has it’s place, it wakes us up and gets us out into the streets. It will turn a crowd that just can’t take it anymore into a Movement. It gets things done.
But Love, and it’s equally important, but lower profile cousins, camaraderie, respect and empathy, are what hold a movement together. They are what is rebuilt when the walls of prejudice, hate and ignorance have been torn down.
So, in celebration of the time we have spent together here in these words, and in preparation for the words as yet unwritten, here is what I would like you to do.
Be Angry. Be angry that you ever have to justify who you are, or who you love, to anyone. Be angry that you are made to live your life in fear and guilt, while the world around you often barely notices there might be a problem. And let that anger drive you to action. Stand up and be proud, be out! Tell them you aren’t going to hide anymore, you will not sit quietly.
But be sure to temper that anger with love. We who are marginalized and abused are not immune to such behavior ourselves. We must remember to extend our love and our community to protect and to nurture those we would push aside ourselves.
We must guard against letting our anger poison our family.
But most of all, what I would like you to do is be you. Do not apologize for who you are. Feel no guilt. Despite the messages the world may give you, there is nothing wrong with your gender. Nothing bad about your sexuality.
So here’s to 50 more columns! Here’s to the future we will build together, making the world we want to see.
And by all means, keep those questions coming. After all, answering them is what I’m here to do.
*Lorelei Erisis is Miss Trans New England 2009. Send your questions about trans issues to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.