Opening hearts and minds to trans*
I signed up for the Hop this year without time for a lot of planning (given a book deadline on the 15th). So I’m just going to talk about what’s in my heart right now, on this May 17th – International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia .
The last few years have seen significant advances in LGBTQ rights, with real hope for equal marriage in Ireland, by upcoming national vote, and in the US, by Supreme Court decision. We hold our breath waiting. We can see the rainbow coming.
There have even been advances in acceptance of gender minority individuals. And fighting transphobia is vital. There’s a statistic that terrifies all of us who know and love someone, especially a teen, who is trans*: 41% of transgender individuals have attempted suicide at least once. Compared to about 2% for the general population.
There are genderqueer folk in my family. People I love. I know the challenges they face every day from within their own bodies. I dream of a time when those challenges are not made worse by the attitudes of society around them.
Good things are happening.
We are seeing a transman poised to be the cover guy for a big national men’s magazine.
We’ve been delighted by an out trans girl elected prom queen
Seen a trans teen model for a major cosmetic product campaign.
We’ve watched a popular androgenous model transition all the way and show how someone can be gorgeous and stunning at different places all along the gender spectrum.
We cheered as Conchita Wurst proved that talent, style, and world-wide recognition can go along with genderbending style.
We even have a celebrity in Bruce Jenner whose journey from male to female is putting gender identity into the public eye from newsstands to supermarkets. (Not always presented in a positive way, but just having people understand the possibility is a huge step forward.)
But at the same time, we have public figures like some Republican politicians who want to fine and even arrest trans people for using their gender-appropriate bathrooms. We have preachers spewing hate from their Sunday pulpits. Bullying of LGBTQ people on the national scale, coming from popular conservative spokesmen and opportunistic politicians and evangelical religious figures, enables and encourages bullying at home and in schools. We’ve seen parents’ rejection and peer harassment kill trans kids, quite literally.
Even one child lost to despair is too many, and this year my news feed has been far too full of young people who couldn’t hold onto hope. 17 years old. 15. 18. 12. They are F2M. M2F. Faces of dead children who fought bravely to be who they knew they were inside, but lost the battle to keep going. For them, the world was far from changed enough.
So I find myself caught between hope and pain, between joy at the first signs of acceptance for genderqueer folk in the wider society, and seething rage at those who enable and encourage hate.
On my own, I can’t change the world. I can’t keep it from hurting people I love when someone who might become president of the United States calls them an “abomination” and demands that “normal” children be protected from them. I can’t keep that gay guy in the bar from calling my trans guy a “dyke” and a “fake.” I can love and cherish and support them with my last breath, but it’s not enough to make their lives comfortable or safe.
But luckily, I’m not alone. There are all of you reading this blog. And many, many more, who are changing the world along with me. Some of you may never have knowingly met a transgender individual, or known someone who was genderfluid, or intersex or agendered. Maybe you’re just starting to explore the world of the LGBTQIAP rainbow. But when you accept that there is not one right way to be a woman, or a man, when you open your heart to love of all kinds, and people of all kinds, you take that first step into a world of equality.
I want to encourage you to consciously include support for all gender and sexual minorities in the opening of your heart. You don’t need to know everything, be aware of all the details, understand all the acronyms and labels, to believe we all have worth. Each of us contributes something unique and valuable to the human experience. And for those whose gender identity doesn’t fit the body they were born with, or whose body doesn’t fit the common mold, your acceptance and support matters even more.
If you are interested in learning more, there are websites and books, fact and fiction, to help you move beyond Gay and Lesbian to the rest of the alphabet. If you’re curious, one of the longest list of LGBTQ terms I’ve found is here: http://haveagaydayorg.tumblr.com/Identities (Some of these I’d never heard of, some are not often used, but labels can be useful tools to understand ourselves.) Just a few days ago the LA times wrote a brief but clear piece on trans issues. (http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-transgender-20150512-story.html?track=rss) There are blogs written by people who are living their authentic lives, and who share their thoughts to help us understand them.
Fiction can be another way to understand people better. There are novels which introduce readers to genderqueer main characters. One with a trans main character that I recently enjoyed in the M/M genre is “The Burnt Toast B&B” by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz – a fun gay romance that is neither heavy nor angsty. If you have other favorites with genderqueer MCs I’d love to have you mention them in the comments. And I just finished writing a book with an F2M main character. Carlos will appear in “Chasing DeathMetal Dreams” as a free novel sometime this summer. If even one person reads about Carlos, and finds a better understanding and acceptance of transgender people, that will give this fictional entertainment an added purpose.
The fun part of this hop, if you made it down this far, is a drawing for a prize. In my case, I’m giving away 2 ebooks of any book from my backlist, or ARCs of Life, Some Assembly Required. I’ll do two separate drawings, one here and one on my Goodreads blog, at midnight May 24th when the hop ends. Just comment below – I’ll message the winner.
Below is the link to move on to other places on this hop. Look for the blue bar to the right with the participants links. Good luck winning prizes as you check out what everyone has to say today, and thanks for stopping by. http://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.com/