It is pride month, and I am proud to be transgender, but what does that mean? Before you leave a closet, you have to realize that you are in one. For a long time, I had trouble acknowledging that I was T, and thus a part of the LGBT. I definitely wasn’t L or G or B. T always felt like an under defined afterthought. I was never depressed or full of self-hatred. I still don’t feel the need to have any scary surgery. A better description is that one gender, one personality, one identity is not big enough for me. I was curious what it was like as a girl, and once I got there I found that I enjoyed it.
This new openness is not just in my life, but in society as a whole. Humans love to place people into categories: male, female, white, black, gay, straight, native, foreigner. This instinct dates back to our primitive hunter-gathers tribes. People discovered that it was easier to survive as a group, which requires identifying your friends from strangers who might want to kill you and steal your food. As long as it is impossible to know everyone, you end up stereotyping the rest. For a long time, it was easy to assume that you didn’t know anyone outside the heterosexual drab norm. This is rapidly changing. Generations X and Y are more open than their baby boomer parents. The internet also allows us to know more people and realize that we are not alone. Then friends and families realize that they do know someone. As more people are accepting, more people are willing to be themselves. President Obama and many congressmen are leading or at least shifting with the tide. In a few days, the Supreme Court may acknowledge that love is a good thing, regardless of gender. In part, as the tide lifts gay rights, then transgender rights also rise. There is always a lag. For example, while the military accepts same-sex couples, being transgender is still considered a mental illness. I still have to explain that gender identity and sexual identity are different. Not everyone is a drag queen (even though they are usually the most visible). Of course even within the LGBT acronym we like to classify ourselves. The latest mouthful is LGBTTIQQ2SA: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, 2-spirited and allies. Within the T, you could add pre-op, post-op, no-op, crossdresser, transvestite, drag queen, and H Benjamin syndrome. The truth is there are no binary categories, just a continuum between masculine and feminine, straight and gay, with all kinds of bodies and minds.
And now that I have decided that I don’t like categories, how do I label this post?