What is it about some becoming who “they” were truly meant to be that frightens society?
Miss Brown was an addict, a sex worker, a transgender M-T-F and my friend.
When we became cooking buddies, I began to learn a great deal about transitioning and its challenges.
She taught me a great deal about men, power, money and negotiating of sexual liaisons.
While I struggled to be progressive, I often was aghast at the things she endured to become her true self and live in a non-exploitative and non-objectified manner.
I often struggled with seeing her as female because I knew of her birth gender.
I am ashamed to admit I had not seen her as a full human.
I saw her as entertaining.
I saw her as educational.
I saw her as fun. I saw her as an individual who brought laughter and some new insights.
I never saw her as a person struggling to make sense of a world that didn’t like her as male, and hated and attempted to destroy her as a transgender female.
Many of us struggle with the same dislikes of transgender individuals.
We hate, dismiss and psychologically deny them for several reasons.
When I began to examine my discomfort, it became clear that it landed differently depending on whether the transperson was M-T-F or F-T-M.
Male to female always brought up a ton of thinking about domination, oppression, and white supremacy. My opinion was one that questioned why anyone would willingly move from a position of power to one of powerlessness. With my tribe that went from female to male, my perception was that it was only a shameless grab for power and entitlement.
After some serious self-examination and some heartfelt listening, I discovered that I was wrong on both accounts.
What frightens us all is visibility and the bold choice to remake and reinvent without anyone’s approval.
Most gays spend a lifetime waiting for someone, typically, a family member or uncomfortable friend to grant them permission to be who they are and live boldly and freely.
When one of our own gets bold, we have the option to either applaud and join them or wish they would slink away in shame painfully awaiting approval of the ubiquitous “they.”
To claim space anywhere in the world at any time is thrilling and dangerous.
Most of us fear the trans community because we fear the responsibility and visibility that comes with choosing to redirect our lives and our gender.
Few of us have made decisions about how we live and exist in a world that hates and attempts to control and destroy anything that is not white, young and male.
Choosing an identity makes folks realize how much society (a group of people they have never met) influences their thoughts, behavior, and sexual expression.
Miss Brown shared with me the brutal physical abuse she endured first at the hands of her homophobic grandmother (who tried to beat the sissy out of her young male body) while threatening her then later at the hands of the medical establishment, who told her the operation and hormones could cause death.
Her response to both threats: I’m willing to risk it.
Choosing death and visibility over lies and self-denial is brave.
All my trans folks who decide to live, have much to teach us all.
Confrontations with those in power and those that offer conditional love provide examples of how to take on the wall of shit that we all face when we decide to self-create.
Choosing to forgo a lifetime of meaninglessness means you are inviting all kinds of danger and vulnerability.
Ms. Brown struggled with addiction and self-medicated via tricks and drugs; she had tackled the initial battle of taking on a world of bigots and intimate terrorists and won.
She had not disappeared.
She underwent her transformation, not seeking to gain or relinquish power.
She reordered her identity.
Forgive us for our fear.
Forgive us for our lack of bravery and courage.
Forgive us for not doing the internal work that would allow us to accept, revere and learn from your ranks.
We are ripe to learn lessons of how to be brave and offer a big middle finger to society who can only accept us when we clone ourselves and allow people to go unchallenged and their bigotry unchanged.
Trans folks also understand exploitation.
The school of resistance is rewriting its curriculum.
Time to show up and show out.
Originally published on Anthony-Carter.com
Photo:Georgina Rose Evans