So originally I was going to avoid the whole story of Caitlyn Jenner and her transition for no other reason than the fact that it has been splashed across every news station and Facebook feed but as I traversed the joy that is the internet I came across a few things that bothered me. Here I stand in a cross roads that I am fully supportive of what she has done and how far she has come but something just felt off, a disturbance in the force if you will, in some of the comments and news stories. I am going to try and address some of the things to better rationalize the situation for ones who may not understand. I never like to feed the trolls nor do I get offended by a joke or side comment about me, but when another is not going after me, but a whole group of people with whom I am friends with, I tend to get morose. I’ll address some of the finer points in hopes of education and not to be offensive to those who do not share my view.
“I really don’t see it as any big news. A guy got a sex change and is now a woman. Big deal, don’t really see why this is national news. If people joke about it, well people joke about anything. Celebrities get joked at all the time, why is this any different. I have no true opinion on this person’s life quite frankly, but don’t really see it as brave or anything major happening. He had money to make this happen and is now a woman in a sense. Let’s move on to actual important things.”
This is an actual comment minus the persons name who posted it for privacy reasons. I do not publicly shame people for many reasons, but in this case it is due to the fact I want to educate and not degrade. To open up a conversation instead of deleting another person helps to educate and not shut them out. I prefer to try and help others in the understanding of people like myself. Here you can find my response:
“J…, I would really like to thank you for your well thought out reply about how her struggle is “no big deal” and your lack of ability to use proper pronouns after by stating “he had money…” I would love to address a few misconceptions that may go unnoticed to one of your apparent highly educated background in the struggles of the transgender community. I will precursor this with the fact that I hold a Bachelors in Psychology graduating with high honors, extensively researched transgender issues and I happen to be transgender myself. I am not afraid of sharing this knowledge because I am in hopes that you may learn something and not be one to bash your opinion.
Being transgender is not a phase or some fetish that some may view it as, it is much deeper than that. In the realm of Gender Dysphoria, the mind does not match up with the body thus causing a disconnect between how one feels and how one looks. Some may find this hard to understand but when one is transgender it is not something one wakes up with and decides “this sounds like fun”. This is life or death and not just a decision. A need that is wrought with death threats, social isolation, or just total denial of ones true self.
I personally attempted suicide 4 times before I was able to come to terms with my dysphoria, and in that time I tried everything to “just be a man” yet nothing worked. I have dealt with the issues, and come out on the other side to find that the problem wasn’t me, but society.
Caitlyn has had to deal with the same struggles and issue and no money can change that. Depression doesn’t come with a payoff price. She may have had the money to transition and have many amazing surgeries, but she also had a public life and has been the talk of every tabloid for the last year or more. So is the fact that she has money a consolation prize?
In the end it is news worthy because her transition may save the lives of many untold people dealing with dysphoria in the shadows, just as I have. Is it really that bad to see on TV if it saves lives? I just don’t understand how her struggle or transition could be in any way found humorous in the grand scheme of it all. Sure, not every trans woman can be beautiful in societies eyes but living a genuine life, free of the prison that is dysphoria is beautiful.
It is about being YOU, and not what society thinks.”
Now as you can see I tried to be well versed and not crass or otherwise demeaning yet no response was received, yet it also sparked a thought in my mind. Why do others have to view her as different because she has money and looks pretty? Money could not buy her happiness and it also caused her to have a very public life. Privacy is something many of us take for granted. She was an Olympian, a hero to many kids in the 70’s yet she struggled in silence. She forced her way through until this year when she finally had enough. In the process she was laughed at and degraded to being inferior. A joke on every major tabloid cover just for the ratings. Now she is free as the beautiful woman she has always been and again we find other laughing and making light of her struggles.
Now I have friends who have transitioned and not once have I had a need or reason to speak how their life was easier or harder than mine. Not once have I looked at another girl and thought of anything more than the struggles it took for them to be free. I’m not jealous of their looks either. Many in the transgender community miss this and instead look to how they would appear in society to be happy and it really shouldn’t matter. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. Beautiful hearts, souls, inspiration, and lives.
Yes, I have beautiful friends. All of them are in many ways from being inspirations to being activists so for me to watch news anchors state how one “looks good for her age”, questioning photoshops, or just straight out denying another the basic decency to use proper names and pronouns is just another way for them to try and diminish the fact that we exist. All I can say to that is we do exist and we will not go back into hiding because of society nor will we quiet down about the journey we have traveled even when it shows the flaws and mistakes along the way.
As I was working today I was called a “fucking freak” by a customer. He mumbled it under his breath to his son, maybe because I looked different or maybe it was my bubbly demeanor but either way I thanked him for his business and never gave it another glance so he sure didn’t ruin my day. I’m sure he is still talking about that person at the store, but I truly don’t mind only because I have never been happier than I am now. I have friends who love me, I have love for others, and I don’t need societies help in telling me how to live. I’m sure not going to go back to hiding myself in the back of the store out of concern for his opinion.
A girl has to do what a girl has to do and I know what I have done so far is right for me just as I’m sure Caitlyn is doing right by herself. She doesn’t need your permission and she doesn’t need your opinion. Maybe the next time someone sees something online and they don’t like what is being said they can find the ability to just keep scrolling past. A mean comment or nasty remark is not going to do much when millions of others are showing support. It is time for people to talk about transgender people, see and understand the issues we face and find a common ground where we can all live in harmony.
America has spoken and for the most part love Is shining through so be careful, your hate may be showing a little bit.
Special thanks to my friend Sona for the title image and quote.