In my post about Stonewall I mentioned a banner that says, “Where pride began.” There’s a lot of controversy about LGBT pride. The argument I hear most is, “Well, we don’t have a straight pride parade. I don’t go around coming out as straight. Keep it to yourself.”
The rebuttal is simple. Straight, cis people don’t need pride the way we do. Pride is a way to raise awareness, and a show of strength and community. We’re not rubbing it in anyone’s face, we’re just finding our place in the world and asserting our identity. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, pride isn’t really pride in the dictionary sense.
I need trans pride because it helps me accept who I am. I’m not proud to be trans. It’s just who I am. But I’m proud of living an honest life. I would never wish transgenderism on anybody, but I’m proud of the people who are out and fighting to be who they are. Because let’s face it – if you’re trans, getting up everyday and being yourself can be enough of a fight. Looking in the mirror and trying not to cry on the bad days is a fight. Walking past people and pretending you don’t hear their laughs with your head held high is a fight. And to do that day in and day out, you have to have a little bit if community pride. And you have to be proud of yourself for making it through another day.
Pride is also is a way to identify with other trans people, when it might be dangerous otherwise. A trans person sporting a trans flag might connect with someone who knows what that flag stands for, when they don’t want to have to come out to the world, but want to connect with others sympathetic to their situation.
Every step closer to being where I want to be makes me a little more proud. Another mark on my trans belt. I’m not proud in the way I was proud when I earned my black belt. I’m not proud like I was when I graduated college. I’m proud because pride helps me validate my identity.
Straight people, cis people, don’t need to come out. It’s assumed. But if I want my pronouns respected, I have to come out. I’ve come out more times than I can count in the past year – to family, to friends,to employers and coworkers, to everyone I had to talk to when I was changing my name. Sometimes it’s on purpose. But sometimes all it takes is saying my name, and everything clicks. Every time I do a background check and my previous name comes up, I’ll be outed. Every job application I ever fill out where I have to check the box “were you ever known by a different name?” I need pride because I couldn’t keep coming out time after time without it.
The LGBT community needs pride because if we stop being proud, we stop fighting. We let society push us down, and we stay there. Pride lets us get back up, brush of, and keep fighting like the grrrls (and guys) we know we are.
Update: Working with people who “get it” makes life more tolerable. At my day job pronouns are iffy. A few people get them most of the time, but after months, some don’t. They literally say the wrong one, then correct with the right one, every single time. One person doesn’t even try. My night job is much the same. Some people get the name, some don’t. A few people do all the time. One manager in particular really gets it, and it really helps. But lately it’s just really exhausting knowing people don’t see you as what you are. Hopefully down the line it won’t be as big of an issue, but as I mentioned before, my name and pronouns are a big deal to me, even if nobody understands why, and an issue that bothers me a lot when people get it wrong.