This past weekend was the Pride Festival for Minneapolis. Since the MN T-Girls didn’t have a booth this year I was able to spend a lot more time wandering around the park. As I wandered, I let my mind do the same thing.
The world is a harsh place. People can be cruel to one another, there are laws in place that hurt our community, and more being written each day. Friendships and families can be forever shattered when we come out. We walk a tightrope on eggshells as we navigate this side of ourselves, regardless of where you are on the transgender spectrum. You might be getting weekly estrogen shots, you might be a boy who wants to do drag. You might be somewhere between. We just want to live our lives but we are held back by the (justified) fear of living our truths, of being ourselves, of being who we want to be. Of being who we ARE.
When we come out we have to face reality. I think about coming out to more people in my life but then I have to face the reality of that. I don’t think it’s likely but there will always be the possibility that coming out to certain friends of mine might end that relationship. Although I have no plans (nor do I feel the need to do so) to live full time, I know were I to do so I risk discrimination (both legal and otherwise) at work and in healthcare.
It’s not fair. It’s exhausting. It’s demeaning. It’s heartbreaking. Because of the reality we face we deny ourselves what we want, who we are, and what we want our lives to be.
If we only watch the news it’s easy to think that the world hates us. That we are alone. It feels like that over the last few years there has been an increase in violence and hate towards the LGBTQ+ community. It feels like every week there’s a new law that attempts to suppress our rights and to make it legal to deny us healthcare. And there is some truth to this thinking. It’s very… ah, popular in certain circles to hate us. It’s very popular to turn us into the scary monster in the ladies room when all we want to do is, well, use the ladies room.
But it’s important (and essential for our mental health) to switch off the television and stop doom scrolling and get out into the real world. It’s important to stop denying who we are, yes, but it’s also important to see for ourselves what the world thinks of us. Of course, it doesn’t matter what the world thinks of us. And we won’t really know what the world thinks of us, but we can get an idea. Last month I finally got to spend some time at my favorite art museum, something I had been wanting to do for over a year. I was dressed in my favorite pair of black patent heels and one of my favorite dresses. My makeup, as the kids say, was LIT. I wandered around the museum for a couple of hours, had a snack in the cafe, and browsed the gift shop. It was, well, it was lovely.
And the best part was that no one cared. I mean, they might have cared and kept their thoughts to themselves, but smiles were returned when I caught someone’s eye, no one pointed or stared. Everyone just paid attention to the art (which is what one does at an art museum). The world seemed a lot less cruel (and a lot more wonderful) than the news headlines suggested.
And Pride was the same thing. Of course, I understand Pride is a celebration for the LGBTQ+ community and it’s the last place in the world where someone would stare at a t-girl, but Pride is also attended by allies. Of course I saw other t-girls, drag queens, gay couples handing hands, and countless others of the LGBTQ+ world. But I also saw people wearing t-shirts with the world ALLY on them. I saw women walking around with signs that said “Free Mom Hugs”. I saw people who loved us. People who wanted us to know that they supported who we are. It’s overwhelming to know we can get a hug from a mom, something we need, especially if we can’t get one from our own.
I can’t say how many people I saw (or saw me) at Pride in the two hours I was there. But like when I went to the museum, I was just another girl enjoying the day. “Vibing”, as the kids say.
Pride really underscores the importance of having friends like ourselves, of being involved (to any extent) in our community. As a t-girl I want to do, well, non-LGBTQ+ things. And I do. I don’t only go to LGBTQ+ cafes and shops. I go to Starbucks and Target, too. But it’s important to stay involved in events like Pride. To be visible, to add to the number of people who attend Pride. To show the world that there are a LOT of us, and that we still stand (and strut) no matter how many people hate us.