|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on July 21, 2012 at 5:30 AM|
It has occurred to me recently that we are engaged in a war of words.
I often become deluded in thinking that I blog in a vacuum - that I work steadily to spread the word about transgender people and their plight, and that the world goes merrily on around me in a sort of neutral state. I'm an optimist, really. I want to assume the best in people, so I think of the outside world as a blank canvas for me to paint upon, and if my brush touches them, they'll be colored by my experience, and educated by my words. I naively assume that I'm the only one trying to change the world for transgender people. I'm not the only artist at the canvas.
The other day, I was happily surfing the web, when I happened across the blog of a cisgender woman speaking on the subject of transgender rights. As I read her words, I became more and more appalled and upset. She said many things that I won't repeat here, not only denying the existence and experience of transgender people, but going as far to state that she was offended that we had the NERVE to say we weren't our biological genders. I looked further, and saw that this wasn't just one single ignorant rant on her blog, after which she was done. No, this was her ENTIRE BLOG. Post after post after post, decrying the existence and experience of transgender people.
This deeply troubled me. Ordinarily I'm the sort of woman that can let this stuff roll off my back. I can usually just tell myself, "these sort of people exist, but that doesn't make your own experience any less valid. Ignore her, and she will go away." This particular morning, though, I wasn't able to shake it off. I was so upset that I began to cry as I read her words. It was like a train wreck that I couldn't draw my eyes away from.
I don't even know what to say. I think the thing that pains me most, is that there IS NO TALKING TO THIS PERSON. You can't educate them. They're the bad, closed-minded sort that won't listen to a word you say. You can stack all the evidence in front of them that you want, and they're just going to continue to insist we're our birth-genders. I'm not so much bothered by her specifically as much as the IDEA of her... that there are people like her, and that there's absolutely nothing to be done about it.
It's not that I found her words personally hurtful... I was getting really upset that there are people who think like this, and worse, there are people who listen to people who think like this. Think of it this way : My blog has the power to change lives, right? People read it, and think, "This is what a trans woman is like. This is what her life is like. This is what being transgender is like. The pain, the experience, the whole 9 yards. I understand, and it has changed my perspective."
Now, think that her blog can do the same thing. People will read it. Some people will actually listen to it, and it will change their perspectives. Having people who love me and accept me is wonderful, and I don't mean to discount the value of that at all, but having allies doesn't mean that someone out there may have their opinion of trans people changed by this woman, and that there's nothing I can do in my power to stop that from happening. If she's loud enough, and if enough people listen to her, things like LAWS can change. "Oh, let'm think that" just isn't acceptable, when the prevalence of this line of thinking is why people like myself and my friends have to fear for our lives on a regular basis. It's hard to have faith that living in a cisgender world is even worth while when there are utterly immobile obstacles such as her, trying their hardest to actually create MORE immobile obstacles for people like myself, simply because we dare exist.
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