Yes, she's strange and different...but not THAT different.

08 May 2006

What's the bill?

What do we transgendered folks owe the rest of the world?  I know that there are a number of us who say that we don’t owe the world a damned thing; that the world owes us for all that they have put us through.  But I don’t believe that the world at large owes us any more or any less than what should be given to every other human being: a chance.  And even if we aren’t given that chance to be ourselves, I actually believe that we do owe the world some things.

We owe the world understanding.  How can we expect others to understand and accept us if we are not willing to do the same for others?  Are we willing to accept and even embrace those who we would call radically deviant?  Are we willing to try to understand the homosexual, the skinhead, the necrophiliac?  If we aren’t willing to make an effort to at least understand that other people have as much right to their belief system as we do to ours, even when their belief system includes hatred of transgendered people, then we cannot complain when they do likewise.

We owe the world education.  We are the only ones who know what it is like to be transgendered.  We are the only ones who can try to tell people who have no gender dichotomy what it’s like to be different the way we are.  If we are not willing to spend time with others, to answer questions and to show the world that we are not represented by Jerry Springer’s “guests”, then we cannot complain that people won’t accept us as just plain folks.  We haven’t been willing to show them that we are just that.

We owe the world patience.  Geological changes take place over millennia; societal changes are not quite that slow but they are far from a drag racing (yes, it was intentional) time frame, either.  Even on a personal scale, friends and family for the most part are not going to be immediately receptive to the news that we really are out of line with societal norms concerning our gender identity.  To expect either individuals or societies to overcome a long history of belief inertia is inviting disappointment.  Patience really is a virtue.

We owe the world forgiveness.  For the most part, people act like they do because of innate feelings.  We’re no different and we should never forget that regardless of how poorly we might be treated by others, there’s no reason we need to react in kind.

What, then, don’t we owe the world?  We don’t owe the world submission.  We have every right to be who we are, and we should be willing to stand up and say so.  We don’t owe the world comfort. We cannot be concerned if our existence makes others uncomfortable. It is not our responsibility to be invisible.  We should never deny who we are as we live our daily lives.  Our presence in the world is a fact.  We do not need to contribute to the homogenization of our society.  Difference is good and should be encouraged and even celebrated.

Finally, what do we owe each other, our transgendered brothers and sisters?  Mostly, we owe them our presence and our selves as further examples of human beings who happen to also be transgendered.  We owe them solidarity, but we also owe them the right to leave us behind.  Too often we tend to have a “crab pot” attitude: the crabs caught in the pot of boiling water will pull back the ones who might escape.  But we also need to know the difference between getting out of a warm bath and escaping from the pot of boiling water.  We owe each other the right to choose the life we want, but we also owe each other the memory of how we got to where we are.

  • On 5/08/2006 7:33 PM, Blogger She says said…

    Very well said.

  • On 5/09/2006 12:10 AM, Blogger DeniseUMLaw said…

    I heart you, Jami. I wish I'd said that! :)

    I owe you: a hug.

  • On 5/09/2006 12:33 PM, Blogger Jami said…

    Thanks, y'all! I really appreciate it. And Denise, you KNOW I'll collect that hug sooner or later!

  • On 5/17/2006 10:05 AM, Blogger Tonya said…

    That was so well said I really have nothing worthy to add but love to ya.

  • On 5/17/2006 4:08 PM, Blogger Jami said…

    Thanks for the kudos, Tonya.

    It's nice to see a new face around the place - hope you come back to visit.

  • On 5/17/2006 7:39 PM, Blogger Diana_CT said…

    I see it differently, not as a debt owed but rather as a gift to give. I educate because I want to, not because of a debt. I help my fellow brothers and sisters because I love them and want to help them, not because I am paying back a debt owed. When I reach out to comfort our brothers and sisters it is not because somebody was there when I needed comfort but because I want to.
    I see many who pass through the community on their transition. They come to the support groups make friends and then fade out of the community once they had their surgery. Do I think that they are wrong in doing so, no I do not. We each are unique and travel our own path.
    For me, I want to give back to the community more than I took.

  • On 5/21/2006 1:02 PM, Anonymous Aphra Behn said…

    Inspiring stuff!


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