By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist-
We live in changing times. The world keeps changing every day in many ways, especially in the LGBT world. Same-sex marriage is gaining acceptance nationwide, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is officially gone, anti-bullying laws are coming into place and transfolk are beginning to have their rights recognized!
In Connecticut, legislature recently passed to give those who do not follow gender norms the rights to work in environments that offer them health resources and public accommodations. Massachusetts is close to gaining these rights also, as are several other states. It’s the beginning of a much different world than even five years ago.
Transpeople, for the most part, can openly live in society now. Back in the “old days,” anyone who transitioned from one gender to another had to go stealth. That is, they had to assume and portray themselves as their targeted gender and had to disassociate themselves from any traces of their old gender. Usually that meant moving away from family and friends and beginning a new life in a new place.
How scary and lonely that must have been. But that was the way to transition back then. Finding a place to live, settling into a community, searching for a job, finding new friends and maybe even finding a significant other, all without letting anyone know anything about your former life, were the incredible tasks that our trans predecessors faced.
If someone found out that you had changed from one gender to another that would be devastating for you. The word would spread throughout your social circles and workplace and neighborhood grapevines and you would be so outed that you would have to leave this new home for another one miles away and restart your new life once again. If that failed you would have to move yet again and again start all over. You had the daunting task of trying to keep even a glimpse of your former life from reappearing. That is a 24/7, rest-of-your-life concern and threat to your well-being.
Nowadays, for the most part, you can live openly as trans. No, you don’t have to move across the country anymore. You can stay right here where your roots are. Yes, the social stigma is still there, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was in the old days. You can actually live somewhere without harassment, work somewhere without harassment, shop in the local stores without harassment and even join some churches without harassment. Oh, you may get stares now and then, hear wrong pronouns now and then, and occasionally be harassed, but it’s not as bad as it once was. Society is beginning to open its arms to those of us who live unconventional gender lives. As a strong word of caution, there are still some very dangerous spaces for us transfolk but generally speaking most spaces are opening up, becoming friendlier to us as the general public is becoming more accepting.
In the coming years I envision encountering transpeople in just about everywhere in all types of business and services. I can imagine in the future that the person who is helping you procure a loan can be trans, or the person who is the store manager of your favorite shopping establishment is trans or your doctor, dentist, professor and,yes, even the police who stops you for your road infraction can be trans. Actually, there are many transpeople already working in these jobs now, doing it quietly in stealth, but it will be awesome to see our trans brothers and sisters being unabashedly out and openly being themselves and working as who they really are and being a valued part of society. That day is truly coming, my friends!
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has three grown children and works at a local Fortune 500 company. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.