Saturday, February 2, 2019

Visibility Matters

1 comment:

  1. I wonder, of the 34% who didn't express support, whether it is themselves or the transgender person/people they know that makes them feel that way. Our visibility is, of course, important; our behavior could be of even more importance.

    When a long-time friend of mine learned of my coming out years ago, he told his wife that he didn't think he would ever want to see me again. The only trans person he had ever met was one who frequented his small shop, and she would dress in short-shorts with her penis actually peeking out. My friend's wife, who had met me as my authentic-self, tried to reassure him that I was not like that at all. Still, it took his diagnosis of terminal cancer for him to reluctantly see me on his last birthday. For many years we had celebrated our birthdays together, as his was just the day before mine, but we hadn't been doing so for the past few years. This, needless to say, was not quite a rejuvenation of an old tradition.

    My friend was very weak, and he spent the whole time in a chair. I waited until the chair next to him was unoccupied so that I could sit down and talk with him. It was difficult for me, but I was anxious to let him know that I was still the friend he'd always known, with the hope that he would not feel that I had betrayed him (this has always been my hope with everyone who's in my life). We talked of old times, but avoided the political discussions that we had enjoyed in the past (he listened to Rush Limbaugh and watched Fox News). When I finally got up to give him a much needed rest, I went outside to the deck, where most of the "old gang" was gathered.

    I didn't do so well with the men outside, but the women seemed to be accepting of the new me. I wasn't surprised, as I had always gotten along better with the wives, anyway. As I sat, talking with and consoling my friend's wife, people started leaving. They all stopped to say good bye to our friend, he being too weak to stand up for each of them. When I finally approached him, though, he mustered the energy to stand up and give me a big hug. It turned out to be our final good-bye, as he passed away only a few days later. So, it was kind of a first hello and a final good-bye within just a couple of hours.

    I like to say that we, as trans people, owe nobody an explanation - and certainly not an excuse - for who we are. In our coming out, we do have a responsibility, however. For those with whom we had established relationships in the past, we should allow them the opportunity to know the whole of us. We also have a responsibility to the whole trans community as good ambassadors. Results may vary, and sometimes may be painful, but we can't always control the immediate reactions. Being visible is relatively easy; being a (proper) vision is what makes the bigger difference.