Friday, February 20, 2015

Defining Who We Are VIII: Is Transgender Society Unity, Under Siege From Within?

By Sabrina Samone, TMP
Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson

World wide Transgender society is under siege. If you think we are at war, you may not find many within our society to disagree. The call for visibility is at an all time high. The dangers are even higher, but it's a call that has been made before in the past, and is now true for transgender society. Our pioneers threw the first stone to ignite 'The Stonewall Riots'. The LG movement, then mobilized at a grass roots level, but it may have not been until the leadership of Harvey Milk and his call from the steps of  the San Francisco city hall when he said;

 “Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! To sit on the front steps — whether it’s a veranda in a small town or a concrete stoop in a big city — and to talk to our neighborhoods is infinitely more important than to huddle on the living-room lounger and watch a make-believe world in not-quite living color. I would like to see every gay doctor come out, every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out, stand up, and let that world know. That would do more to end prejudice overnight than anybody would imagine. I was born of heterosexual parents. I was taught by heterosexual teachers in a fiercely heterosexual society. Television ads and newspaper ads — fiercely heterosexual. A society that puts down homosexuality. And why am I a homosexual if I’m affected by role models? I should have been a heterosexual. And no offense meant, but if teachers are going to affect you as role models, there’d be a lot of nuns running around the streets today."

Imagine today the words of the Great Harvey Milk if the words "gay brothers and sisters", were trans brothers and sisters, and that the words heterosexual and homosexual were replaced with cisgender and transgender. Being transgender and being ostracized and cut off from families, loss of jobs, a second puberty, and your life being on the line, are not a choice. As in the late 70's, we now live in an era with little representation in media. We are not fully represented in politics or sports, yet there are countless willing participants in our community. There are far too many misinformed cisgender people about what it means to be transgender. There are too many of us in trans society, sitting on their porches or concrete stoops of privilege. Be that privilege of passing, race, gender, etc., there are far too many people around the world that still say that they have never met a transgender person. Many are having conversations about yet another tragic trans death, all while standing next to one unknowingly.

At times like this in warfare, a tactical maneuver to efficiently deal with numerous opponents is to divide and conquer. Over this past week while yet another trans-woman of color was murdered, her life being ridiculed on black mainstream online media; a white trans woman, a former blogger and S.C. resident, thought she was giving major advice when she posted that trans-women of color should watch out for their surroundings as her only words of wisdom. She dances on the borderline of even blaming her sisters of color for being in a dangerous work environment, prostitution. Ignorant of the fact that, that was not the case for half of the eight victims who've been murdered in the past 30 days. A prominent trans man within the community told me about an ongoing attack (or a potential hot seat as stated by the perpetrator) from a trans woman who criticized him for his presumed lack of support for trans women. She demanded that he represent trans women, ignorant to the fact he does. I've witnessed the ramblings of one mixed raced trans woman of color attack a prominent trans woman of color blogger about her, as she viewed, her militant black American support. Ignorant at the fact that she is urging mainstream black America to think about their trans sisters and brothers of color. Again, at times of war, a tactical maneuver to efficiently deal with numerous opponents is to divide and conquer.

Unity, is a choice we as a society can choose. Will there be a utopian world of complete unity? No, but that does not mean we should not strive for it in order to help change laws, protect the lives of those yet to come, and to one day see even more trans people represented in the media. We as a society must be careful in our attempts to gain understanding from a different segment of our society, that we don't alienate another and aid in the divide and conquer of war. We can not expect all trans people to be the same, yet each and everyone of us owe it to our community to see a society in need of unity, and do each of our parts to attempt to reach beyond our immediate comfortable surroundings to a brother or sister in another segment of our society, remembering our common denominator.  If we are to be a unified community worthy of discussion at the table of mainstream society. Ty Underwood, Lamia Beard, Taja DeJeus, L. Edwards, Penny Proud,Yazmin Vash Payne, Bri Golec, Leelah Alcorn, Andi Woodhouse, deserve our unity, their lives say 'fix society' and part of fixing that society starts with ours.


Visibility should be the death of the trans hierarchy, which basically is saying; that though I've received support, encouragement, guidance, and direction through my transition, that now that I have completed my transition, there is no need for me to return the support, encouragement, guidance and direction to others. That mentality has added zero to the equality of who we are, but kept us in the medieval mindset of mainstream society. It is the height of social selfishness when you take from a society that has guided you and give nothing back in return. There was someone who supported you through your completeness. There was a community providing literature to know who you are. There were support groups to share with like minded people. Without the visibility of those of the past that have provided for many of us today, we would still be searching to know who we are or worse, felt there was no one to 'fix society'.
When we are accustomed to something we no longer fear it. When the world knows of trans people they will no longer fear us. When your family and friends know a trans person, they will no longer fear us. When your towns and cities know a successful, happy trans person, they will no longer fear us. When our politicians make laws concerning our lives they will know the lives they are affecting. Visibility is hard, can be dangerous, but it is necessary for the seamless transition to be fully equal and to have our seat firmly planted at the table of the world.

Unfortunately even with visibility, a community that can not support each other will have little respect or hope in gaining support from those that don't understand. There can't be a transgender person alive that does not realize we need more unity even amongst ourselves. Then why are we still urging it within trans society? Why are there still trans people who know no trans person outside of their race? Why are there trans people of "passing privilege" adding to the discrimination of those without? Why are there trans men on the TERF's side against trans women? Why are there trans women against the visibility of trans men, who have only recently been given the media attention and visibility that trans women have had far more years of? We should be glad as women to see the men shine and take a seat at the table of trans society. The visibility of both sexes matter and is necessary.

There is no room at the bottom of the barrel of the world's minority groups for racial hate or ignorance. Hate is something I honestly say I can't understand. Since I was a child I could never imagine hating an entire community of people. Being multi-racial I tackled my ideas of race in pre-school. I realized early the one drop rule;  a sociological and legal principle of racial classification that was historically prominent in the United States asserting that any person with even one ancestor of sub-Saharan-African ancestry ("one drop" of African blood) is considered to be black. I  also learned what it meant and felt like to be told, "not black enough." Seems representing my duality is something I learned long before dysphoria set in lol.
We as trans society can do so much more to reach across the isle of race and be an example to the rest of society, sadly we are not even halfway there even amongst ourselves, and we dare sit at the table of the world and say give me equality!

Before visibility can achieve full equality for trans society, we as a society must address, and correct the things that divide us. One can not achieve equality if one doesn't know how to give it. It is not up to the trans activist to do this. It is not just up to the trans celebrities to set an example. It is not up to the blogger to bring it up. Support of others within our community can't be limited to a Facebook post. We, trans society, each man, woman, and the gender fluidity in between is responsible for our own actions concerning unity. Here and now, we are the writers for our society. We determine the direction trans people 50 years from now will follow. Will it be a society unified, or a society that still can't achieve their seat in the world because they haven't learned how to even give a seat to their own?




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