I received an invitation from one of my partners to attend their Sunday service at Ecclesiax, a church in downtown Ottawa, and out of curiosity, I attended. It was an interesting visit, and I’m glad I added this unusual event to the series of religious presentations I have personally experienced. Like all the others, though, it’s not one I’ll be repeating if I can avoid it.
I received your letter a few days ago, and have spent the ensuing period formulating a response in my mind. That response is ready now.
Images of people in my culture don’t look like me.
There’s a trivial sense in which that’s not true. My dark, angled eyes, curly hair, curvaceous figure, and diminutive stature all betray my origins. Our beauty queens and pop stars in particular look like me, conspicuously lighter in hue than even our own relatives. As distinctive as I always am in family photos, someone else who looked like me would not have seemed out of place.
But the image of us isn’t a scientist. She isn’t an atheist or a socialist. She isn’t dating outside her race. She isn’t deliberately far away from her parents. She isn’t autistic. She isn’t transgender. She isn’t gay.
There are many little bits and pieces of growing up transfeminine in a hostile world. Recognizing ourselves early as pressed into a gender we neither desire nor understand is not always a blessing, and often merely changes the character of our seeping hurt. Our youthful relationships with boys, our youthful relationships with girls, how we feel about clothing and sport and our parents, all get colored through these lenses, already complicated and made more so by inept striving toward a less horrid vision of the future.
In her novel For Today I Am a Boy, Kim Fu finds them all.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
A trans person, probably a trans woman, has parents. Those parents are a predictable yet incomprehensible medley of bigoted toward transgender people, ignorant of queer and transgender topics, and uninterested in learning more, and think “acceptance” means that the telephone shouting matches have mostly stopped and they haven’t severed all ties with their transgender descendant. There’s very little else they get right, and they think that their progress is measured in “time since they heard.”
There are a lot of specific things they get wrong, and they’re frustratingly defensive about getting corrected on any of them.
So here are some answers.
CN sexual assault, suicide, violence against women
Mi familia no está aquí.
My family isn’t here.
Today is World Toilet Day: A fact that seems to amuse a lot of people. Living in North American, it can be pretty easy to take toilets and running water for granted. Bathrooms have become such an integrated part of our daily lives and routines, it can be hard to imagine not having regular access to a toilet. Perhaps on a camping trip, or in a particularly deserted area of town one might be inconvenienced temporarily, but on the whole most of us have a reasonable expectation of having access. As such, it might come as a shock to learn that 1 in 3 people in the world, do not have safe and adequate access to toilets or running water.
Running water and the flushable toilet were not just breakthroughs in convenience and comfort. The development of the toilet meant serious progress in overall public health.
Existing as a transgender person is hard. We face expenses and hazards that few other people share, progressive organizations consider our rights a bargaining chip to trade for what they actually care about, and most of us lose a big part of our social circle when we emerge as ourselves, forcing us to rebuild at a time when we’re subject to tremendous abuse.
While the difficulties specific to trans people in any of various situations—airports and prisons suddenly come to mind—are worth discussing at length, one sphere in particular needs highlighting: the medical system. A lot of us travel by air and too many of us end up in prison, but virtually all of us see doctors, and seeing a doctor is a frustrating mess for people like us.
For as long as people have been talking about social justice online, there have been people, trolls really, who make a point to argue, harass, and otherwise engage in actively hateful and bigoted behaviour. This has been the case in every online community I have been involved with: the feminist community, the atheist community, disability community. There is always someone prepared to defend the vilest behaviour you can think of. If you are a representative of these communities: a Person of Colour, a Trans Woman, a Disabled Person, if you are a member of some minority, the number of people who target you in particular escalates.
The sheer number of people committed to spreading hate has made places like the comment boards on Youtube a place to be avoided. Many magazines and blogsites have closed their comment sections. More than one writer, activist, organizer, and so forth has been forced off the internet as a result of death threats, threats of rape and violence, dealing with a constant barrage of slurs and hatred, and even having their private information released to the public.