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Community vs Outcasts

15 June, 2011

“A community of outcasts was found living near and interacting with one another in a local Fairfax County neighborhood. When local citizens were asked to comment the most common response was, ‘I was shocked to learn their were outcasts living in my neighborhood. They seemed like such nice, normal people.’ Local authorities have refused to comment on either the current status of the outcasts or what the plan for dealing with them is; however, if it follows traditional pattern the outcasts will be dispersed and continued inter-community contact will be prevented.”

How often do you see a news story like that? But it happens all the time. It’s happening now. We just don’t talk about it. It wouldn’t be polite or good manners to discuss the issue. Sure gossip about the individuals that’s fine. Discuss them behind closed doors and in hushed whispers (“Somethin’ really ought to be done about this here outcast issue,” a local Fairfax man whispered to his wife.), but to publicly address the issues and to acknowledge their existence in the community as normal, functioning citizens and not as some local news-hyped tragedy victim or the odd degenerate?  No, no. That just won’t do.

In the last three months I have become something to gawk at for the vast majority of the public. That’s fine. I expected as much. What I didn’t expect, however, was to become taboo. It’s fine to stare and point me out but to actually talk about the issue in a productive manner or, God Forbid!, talk to me about questions, thoughts, or concerns one-on-one (as opposed to the public debate some have tried to sucker me into), well, that’s right out.

And the scary thing about this indefinite moratorium on actively engaging and trying to understand the issue is the ignorance, confusion, and doubt that it creates not just in society as a whole but, most damaging, to the outcast community itself.  They pick up on the ban and, even though it is them the ban is against, they embrace it. Society says, they say to themselves, that there is something wrong with me. I am deviant in someway and as a deviant I need to censor myself and not rock the boat. Because of this mentality the TS population is easy to control and maintain.

Unlike homosexuality, which in many ways is far easier, the issue isn’t about who you sleep with, it’s about who you are. It’s more than preferences, and quip-quotes, it’s their entire esense, their being, their existence being banned from conversation. They are “The Almost People” from Doctor Who. They almost count as humans, they have the emotions, the intelligence, the ability to form friendships and bonds. But they lack the most important part: social acceptance. The vast majority of people are uncomfortable with the idea of gender let alone the bending and sometimes out right stretching-the-reality-of-it-beyond-the-pale that the TS individuals are considered to be doing.  So the public clings to their little fetishes and trinkets and prays that the plague passes them over all the while pretending it doesn’t exist and, by God, if you as a TS person want to fit in to society and be accepted you’ll pretend it doesn’t exist either, which means, either look like what you say you are or don’t go out. Yes, there are exceptions to this. I am privileged to know a number of people who are accepting of me as me, which is one of the reasons I cannot simply shut-up and blend in. In many ways I have it easier than so many, which obligates me to do what I can to help those who don’t have such privilege. But my being willing to be public runs us into the second issue regarding the unspoken ban on the TS community.

This ban also means under no circumstances should one ever attempt to disseminate information in a public forum to other TS individuals that would make their transition easier. No guides, no handbooks, no “So You Wanna a Be a T-Girl” informational brochures. It is an outright ban on information.

This cultural ban invalidates the TS’s right to exist and on their ability to form community. It’s like what the Assyrians did to the people they conquered—keep them separate and isolated and you never have to worry about them standing up for themselves, demanding fair treatment, or lobbying for equal rights. And with the denial of community comes the need to experiment in order to learn what being TS means and how to be TS. This is how so many TS individuals get themselves into trouble.  You see, this is more than just a gender issue.  It is also a social and political issue. The majority of TS individuals are poor and under-educated. (These stats could be impacted by the fact that most middle class and wealthy individuals who are TS also have the resources and education to go undetected and transition in total stealth mode, something I have thus far and for personal reasons refused to do.) With these two social stigmas already working against them, when you add the socially crippling stigma of TS they are playing a game rigged in the House’s favor.  Double zero, folks, House takes all; no winners. The experimentation leads to needing funds to buy hormone treatment and to purchase clothes, binding bandages, padding, falsies, surgery, name changes, license changes, gender marker changes. And those who have already run this gauntlet have nothing to say, because if they offered advice, if they tried to help in anything but a one-on-one private meeting behind closed doors, they would out themselves and all the anguishing work they put in for the last decade or more to pass and survive in a hostile climate would be shot to shit. So the uninitiated trying to survive become sex-addicts, call-“girls,” prostitutes (the sex industry is both lucrative and a source of make-up and presentation tricks), victims of violence, suicide stats, murder victims, or they do irreparable damage to their body while trying to figure things out on their own.

So when there are laws up for vote about allowing a more inclusive society, please consider where I and a number of other nice, normal Americans are at and what we need to survive in a healthy way that encourages maturation and not self-destruction. Consider your role in creating a tolerant society. Consider the quote from a banner given to me by a most prodigious math teacher, no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Give us the opportunity not just to be who we are, but also to be who we are in community. Allow us to discuss with each other and anyone who honestly wants to know the issues tied into our lives and the lives of those we love. I’m not asking for TS appreciation week. I just want the same freedom to associate with and learn from others like myself in a public community without retaliation, instead of in a room in some conference center behind closed doors just in case someone walking by doesn’t like who the strangers in the room are.

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2 comments

  1. You’re never going to pass as a woman if you keep talking about things like tolerance and being non-judgmental.


    • Sarah, I’ll get to work on being snarky and catty. I’d hate for anyone to accuse me of being unfeminine. 😉



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