There has been some nasty discourse lately about how nonbinary people aren’t trans. The “logic” behind that has been mainly that nonbinary people don’t transition – and when it’s pointed out that many nonbinary people do, in fact, socially and/or medically transition, the argument then becomes that nonbinary people aren’t “really” transitioning because they are […]
I happened to be the person to answer the phone at the transgender center on a call from a trans man in his fifties. I could hear the tension in his voice, and it was obvious that making that call had been very difficult for him. He told me that he had driven past the center a number of times, but had never quite worked up the courage to come inside.
I was the first trans person he had ever been able to have a conversation with.
He wants to come out, but is scared to death. He goes to the Metropolitan Community Church, but when he started hinting about possibly being trans to other church members, a couple of the lesbians—he previously presented as lesbian– ridiculed him in a pretty nasty way, so he stopped talking about it. He told me that his dysphoria in being forced to live in an inauthentic way has gotten so bad that he has been thinking of killing himself.
I probably spent an hour talking to him. I urged him to come to the trans masculine support group. He didn’t want to because he says he looks feminine. I think this is someone who has been ridiculed a lot. I told him that no one in the group would care what he looks like and that everyone there would want to help him. I told him that he is family and should come and meet us. I told him we care about him. I told him that coming out and living as trans is very hard, but that it is easier than living as someone you are not.
By the end of the call he said he felt much better. There are aspects of his experience that I, as a trans woman, do not understand, which is why I worked to hard to get him to his peers. He said he would come in.
Hope. We all need a little hope.
It was a good day!
Notes in screenplays show that writers often have a good deal of contempt for the trans characters they create. With almost no exceptions–and this includes movies that won major awards such as The Danish Girl–trans characters are seen not as human beings struggling with an incredibly difficult existential dilemma, but as members of a freak show that can be used to entertain the ignorant and insensitive, which often includes those who write the screenplay.
I have reached a point where I don’t think that cisgender writers ought to create trans characters if those characters are more than briefly passing through a story.
I sometimes write fiction and have completed two novels and some short stories. As someone who knows a bit about writing, let me observe that because I am not African-American I would never feel competent to write about the inner lives of those who have lived that experience in a racist society such as ours. I’m not that arrogant.
First of all, in case there is anyone reading this who has never presented as anything but a male, let me ask: have you heard about that business where, if you are a woman, men you encounter in public spaces feel free to pretty much order you to smile?
Let me assure you that it is, as the kids say, a “thing.” I’ve experienced it myself on a few occasions from men in the 50+ age range.
I smile more than Dead Name did, but smiling being read as more feminine in this society is a very small part of why I do.
Often I don’t even realize I’m smiling unless I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror in a department store or something.
I smile a lot more than Dead Name did, but it’s mainly because, although it’s both difficult and dangerous to be a trans woman in this hate-based society, I am so, so much happier than he was!!!
Please boycott the movie “Anything.”
Hollywood keeps perpetuating the myth that transgender women are cisgender men in drag who look and act like someone’s hairy, straight husband on Halloween. This is a myth that can get us killed because straight men are often dangerous. We’re not.
At our holiday party a few months back, the staff and volunteers from the trans center and some sister organizations, their spouses, partners, dates, and kids took over one end of a large restaurant. There were over 30 in our party; most of the adults (and a couple of the kids and teens) were trans.
The other diners didn’t notice. We looked like an ordinary large holiday office party (in our case, it was a non-profit), which is exactly what we were.
One of our cisgender social workers brought her husband. She introduced me, a tastefully dressed older trans woman, to him. I smiled and said hello. He just stared at me with his mouth and eyes open.
I was not what he was expecting! I guess I didn’t look trans enough.
If you want to see an honest film about a trans woman, check out A Fantastic Woman.
“Jen Richards describes being told that she doesn’t look transgender enough to play a transgender person on film, even though she is in fact transgender.
“They said you don’t look trans enough,” my agent told me over the phone, “What the hell does that mean?”
I laughed. I was finally joining the club that included my friends Angelica Ross, Trace Lysette, Rain Valdez, Jamie Clayton, and Alexandra Grey.
“It means that they want the audience to know the character is trans just by looking at her,” I explained, “And in their mind that means a guy in a wig.”
“The photographer, who lives in New York City, rose to prominence as a human rights photographer in Chile during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. She has spent her career focusing on the most marginalized and misunderstood members of society. She said her lifelong dedication to human rights is what inspired her to photograph women who are trans.
Vergara said the portraits in “Female” give no impression that her subjects are anything other than women.”