I asked my friend, CM, to help me again with today’s post and she graciously agreed.
MsDarkstar: Do you think it’s helping the transgender community as a whole to have famous people talking about being transgender?
CM: Definitely. In the first place, these famous people are letting transgender kids know that they are not alone in the world, and that it’s okay to have a girl’s mind in a male body, or a boy’s mind in a female body, or to simply have one’s identity shift over time, as it did with me. In the second place, these famous people are allowed to share not only their story but those of others too, ones that ordinarily go unheard.
MsDarkstar: If you had a large public platform, what would you tell people about being transgender?
CM: Being transgender is much, much more than having one gender’s mind another gender’s body. There are more stories than “I knew from a young age I was born in the wrong body.” In my case, I did not know there was such a thing as being transgender until high school, and my body had never given me trouble until then. Once I did learn however, I began to question and explore my own identity, until in time I realized that, for me, cross dressing was not just looking pretty. It was a physical, tangible way to express the girl part of me that I had formed, and I loved that part of me so much I wanted to become her. All because she made me happy.
Identity can shift over time. We do not consider ourselves to be the same person at age 20 as we were at age 15, and what we identity as is informed by our life experience. I did not always identify as a girl, but I do now. I am still transgender. The mainstream society, and that includes some transfolk, have done a lot to emphasize one particular narrative, at the exclusion of others. Some might say I am merely “transtrender,” a term as insulting as the words tranny or ladyboy. In placing emphasis on one story, those who break the pattern are left without a role model. At day’s end though, we’re all human. Why can’t our story be told?
MsDarkstar: We’ve seen so many transgender young people end their lives because of a lack of a support system. How do you cope when you’re feeling misunderstood?
CM: When I first began questioning, I didn’t have a lot of options to express myself. I was two months away from graduating high school in a very conservative state, and I felt the guidance counselors would not be ready for the bomb I would’ve dropped on them, so I went to the only place where I could express myself: online.
I cannot fully illustrate how important the Internet was to me during my time of questioning, and after when I accepted myself for who I was. The people I’ve met there may not have been “real,” but we honestly care about one another, to the point that when my parents finally did learn about my struggle and were not understanding, it was my online friends who brought me up and made me feel like myself than ever before. Obviously, I wasn’t there when Leelah Alcorn passed away. If I was though, I would have encouraged her to look online for the support and friendship she so badly needed.
MsDarkstar: While I don’t feel it’s inherently relevant to the discussion, I’ll throw in that I’m a cis-female (A non-transgendered female. A naturally-born woman or girl whose psychological gender identity is socially female also). I’m sharing these conversations with my friend CM because I think understanding diversity is important. If the topic makes you uncomfortable, feel free to skip these posts and come back for something that’s more to your liking.