Forget bathrooms. Forget pronouns and names. Forget negative media stereotypes and jokes. Forget dysphoria. Forget employment. Forget medical treatment. Individually, all these things are issues that need to be talked about. All these things are what make a trans person’s life challenging. But by far the hardest part of being trans is knowing that, and dealing with that, and still staying positive.
Negativity is contagious because it’s easy. It’s easier to do nothing and complain about it than to do something constructive. It’s why Ash Haffener died. Killed himself. It wasn’t because he didn’t have a supportive, loving family, because he did. It was because all the negativity from outside was building – all the comments and all the reactions when he was just trying to figure out who he was. He killed himself because the negativity was too much to keep fighting. Because words have power whether we want them to or not. And eventually you just start think, “Fuck it. Whatever happens next can’t be worse than this.” The same with Zander. The same with Leelah. And Blake. And Cameron. And Taylor. And all the other trans kids that killed themselves and weren’t reported on this year.
A person I work with that I knew before I started transitioning still called me he until very recently. He still does, sometimes, but not all these time now. He still used my old name until the new one was legal, too. I’d talked to him at least three times, and every time it was always the same. “I’m trying. It’s hard.” and he’d try for a day or two and go right back. And if it was just him, it would be fine. I could write it off. But when other people heard it, all of a sudden they started, too, and then I had three people to remind. That’s how negativity works, too.
But positivity works that way, also. Start smiling at people, and see if they smile back. Start complimenting people and see if they don’t do the same. Peer pressure is peer pressure, and it works both ways. But positivity takes effort, and negativity is a default in this society. At my night job they’ve only known about my trans status since I changed my name. But everyone calls me Natalie, save for a slip now and then, even though I only work a few nights a week as opposed to 7 hours a day, save for the occasional person I don’t work with much (and not for long, because they catch on to what everyone else is doing). They consistantly call me she, too. And they don’t have to think about it, because it’s already a habit, unlike my day job where the habit was “he”, and a correction right after a lot of the time, until very, very recently.
So building positivity is so important. Make positivity a habit in your life and see what happens. And if the people around you are still being negative, you probably need new people around you. The problem comes when you can’t get away from the negative. It infects you, and breaks you down. Until you’re a name and a suicide note on the internet. A hashtag. #her name was Leelah #his name was Zander #his name was Ash
So keep fighting for positivity, even when you don’t think you can anymore. The trans community can’t afford another hashtag.
Fight for positivity and acceptance. Fight like a grrrl.
Update: Monday at my day job I was fixing my hair in the men’s room, and I noticed a couple of guys keeping their eyes on me even as they walked by. First, guys hardly ever spend more than half a second looking in the mirror in a public bathroom. Second, I don’t exactly look like I belong there anymore. Granted, I still don’t pass at work because of the uniform and no makeup, I think I’d be started at in either bathroom at this point.
So I finally asked my boss the big question, which was bad enough. The answer that came back was worse – she talked to her boss, who in turn has to talk to HR, who has to talk to the HR department of the people who contract my company, because it’s there building. As of today, I’m still waiting for my answer, and a dozen or so people are probably talking about my genitals while trying their hardest to pretend they aren’t. Which is funny to think about when it’s not completely depressing, but really. It’s 2015, people. Get it together.