I've been watching Facebook this week and seeing a lot of awareness posts in relation to the Rutgers student Tyler Clementi who committed suicide. In fact these past few weeks have been flooded with the issue of people being harassed and bullied causing them to take their own lives; while I find it touching, it saddens me to think it has taken so long to get to the point of finally recognizing it
Just a few short years ago a young teenager took his life after being bullied due to his gender ambiguity. Then there are the stories of Teena Brandon, Gwen Araujo or even Matthew Shepherd whose murder was the basis for the current hate crimes law to protect GLBT people. It's not a new problem, just one that has been made apparent recently by the sad death of a prominent student.
On an Internet board I frequent in relation to my work this week a thread started discussing this very incident. Sadly the majorities of the people on this board live in the Bible belt and are hard core bible worshipers. In most incidents these people didn't blame the perpetrators for their actions but they blamed the victim for his lifestyle. In fact a few have even stated that most should be forced back in the closet with one stating that homosexuality should be a crime punishable by death. To say it was disturbing would be putting it mildly. Unfortunately this is the mentality of a lot of people in this country, believing that we are all doomed to live be their own gods religion and rules. Religious freedom to these people only exists in one form, theirs!
As most of you know I'm transgender and chose to transition in late 2005 to save my own life. I can't say it has always been easy, I still deal with my own insecurities about who I am, my appearance, how people see me and so forth. I can say however that I've been incredibly lucky. I've not lost anyone in my life who cared about me and I only know of 2 people who were distant from me have a hard time with it.
In transitioning I learned this statement bears some truth and to this day I continue to use it when I encounter hatred such as the Tyler Clementi story.
"I spent a long time and a lot of therapy learning to finally love myself just so other people can hate me"
This one-line sum up anybody's feelings who have decided to take control of who they are and live their own lives being true to who they are. I actually coined that phrase on the first day of my change at work when everyone finally knew what was going on with me. I had a very positive reaction with the exception of one person and because of that, that statement was born.
It's never an easy thing hiding who you are and it is even worse being afraid because other people have dictated who you should be. I'm not sure just why people who have no emotional vesting in a person feel they have the god given right to have ownership of that person's identity.
When I see stories about trans-people I generally make one big mistake. I always seem to get caught up in reading the comment section and nine times out of ten, I end up disappointed in people. For instance one of the biggest things that's thrown around about people like me is our possible birth genetics.
IE: You're born a man, you should be happy and stay a man.
IE: It doesn't matter what you make yourself looks like your DNA still say's you're a man!
I find these statements funny and degrading all at once. Funny because most people who would make that statement have never had to question or hide who they were. Or what I was like before I worked to fix myself. It is degrading because they take ownership of my identity and expect me to be miserable and usually follow their religious beliefs.
Sadly, to see me most people would never question my appearance. I never get sir'ed even if dressed in gender neutral clothing. But for some that isn't the case. No matter how hard they try they will still not be able to escape the masculine or feminine features they were born with. Still, they have a right to live and be happy but because they are more obvious they are picked on, ridiculed, pointed at, started at, beaten, abused, denied certain rights and so on. The same rings true of a gay man who appears to be more feminine or a tomboyish woman who appears to be more masculine. It doesn't matter what their orientation is, they are labeled and ridiculed. Even as simple as being forced into typical gender stereotypes. It affects all of us!
So to close this long writing out I wanted to say this. It's great to see all the support and caring for such a sensitive subject. Please make this the beginning of positive change and not something that is just the current fad. The people who need support really need it, they need you. They need you to be nonjudgmental, accepting and loving. They need every one of us to stand up and say that the are not only valued but they are equals. Whether it be DOMA, DADT, ENDA or simple everyday life, please keep the ball rolling and make this world more tolerable for all of us!! We may see it as a rainbow but at the end of the day, we all bleed the same color!
Edit: For those who may not know the acronyms..
DADT= Don't ask, Don't tell (requiring homosexuals to serve in hiding)
DOMA= Defense of Marriage Act (Banning same sex marriage)
ENDA- Employment non discrimination act (Banning the discrimination of GLBT people in Employment)
Until these things change, we are only a free and equal country for some of our people.