Transgender Visibility, and hope
Consider Ireland in the spring of 2015, in the months before the vote on equal marriage for same-sex couples. Sure, there were many good public information campaigns. But in the end, it was everyone who came out, to family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, who made the difference. It was “my son who’s gay”, “my lesbian auntie”, “my bisexual cousin”, “my gay dentist” who turned the tide. Personal familiarity and family feeling brought victory to the Yes campaign.
Coming out as transgender can carry physical and emotional risks, and may bring fewer new freedoms than coming out as LGB. And even so, we’re seeing more and more openly personal stories from people across the gender spectrum. As a parent of LGBTQ kids (and my extended family can identify with every one of those letters), and in supporting the teens on my YA Books group, I’m grateful to every single person who steps into the light to say, “Me too. When you speak of LGBTQ, you’re talking about me.”
Transgender rights are the most intense current LGBTQ battlefield for American opinion, although equal marriage opponents are still fighting a rearguard action. When it comes to the right of a teen trans girl not to be forced into the boys’ bathroom at her high school… there we find the new height of conservative fear-mongering. (Being used as a wedge against other LGBTQ rights, of course.)
Once more, I believe it will be visibility that wins this war. People keep talking about what a tiny group trans people are, how they’ve never met anyone transgender, as if that makes their lives not count. I believe that will change when they know trans people personally, when their image of a trans woman or girl is more Jazz Jennings or Corey Maison or retired Navy SEAL Kristin Beck or 12-year-old Tru Wilson and 95-year-old Robina Asti than some stereotype of cross-dressing.
I am grateful to so many people who are sharing their stories, to help others understand what it means to be transgender. To Jennifer Firth and her wife, Elizabeth . The “To Survive on this Shore” project highlighting older trans folk. Hannah Winterbourne of the British Army. To Matt Kailey who wrote in 2005 about transitioning at the age of 42. To the heirs of Angela Morley, a transgender pioneer who faced the incomprehension of the music industry when she transitioned in the 1970s, and of gospel singer , Willmer “Little Axe” Broadnax. And so many more.
Not to mention all those who don’t fit into the binary – a host of people who are coming out to say things like “My Gender is an Everything Bagel”. I have dozens of links to the stories of people who are stepping into the light, to challenge how we’ve thought about gender. To broaden our understanding beyond stereotypical male and female.
I think one of the best things I can do as an ally is to amplify their voices. Share their stories. Stand behind them, by linking their own words to inform and enlighten us. And to thank them, every day, from the bottom of a parent’s heart, for making a difference in the world. They make the future brighter for all the kids, cis, trans, and gender-nonconforming, who will grow up knowing that gender is in the mind, not dictated by chromosomes and anatomy, and that a person’s worth has nothing to do with their gender identity.
(Many additional links are available on the “Transgender and gender-spectrum narratives” thread on my YA LGBT Books group. It’s a public group. Feel free to check them out at https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2275320-transgender-and-gender-spectrum-narratives .)
To read others of the 65 posts along this Blog Hop for Visibility, Awareness and Equality, each also with a chance to win prizes, follow this link: http://hopforvisibilityawarenessandequality.blogspot.com/
Commenters below will be entered into a drawing for three winners, each to receive one of my backlist ebooks of their choice. (Check my “Books” blog page for possibilities.) Drawing will close Midnight Central time, May 25th, and winners will be chosen at random. (You do NOT need to put your email into the comment to win.)