Recently I asked for some feedback on what I write about on my website. This was very enlightening. The comments were helpful and the emails I received were insightful. Most of you enjoy writings about clothes and makeup (no surprise there!) which coincides with what I like to write about. I heart clothes.
Some of you would prefer I stay away from “political” topics. And yes, I don’t want to be wet blanket (or a run in a stocking) but the reality is that there are things that are happening, have happened, and will happen that will impact our lives.
If we want a world where we can move freely through it, if we want a closet full of whatever clothes we want to wear, then we have to create that world. A world that is attempting to pass laws that hurt us, that ostracize us, that shame us, is not the same world that will “let” us wear a skirt.
Politics bore me, they frustrate me. I don’t write “political” posts in an effort to rile anyone up or demonize any “side”. Trust me, the number of angry emails I get and the amount of comments posted that I feel I should delete hardly make topics like these worthwhile.
But this is our reality. We can’t ignore the outside forces that influence what we can and cannot do, feel, or wear.
I can’t imagine ever ceasing posting about legislation that is going to impact us. It would be a wonderful world if these laws weren’t being considered, but that’s not realistic.
My website has always tried to be… hm, honest about our lives. Sometimes this honesty is brutal and difficult to accept. Our partners will not always be excited about our gender identity. The other mall goers will not always be happy we exist. Passing is a myth. Part of our reality is if we want a want the world to stop attacking us (in any way) then we need to accept that how society views us is the first step. If a government is trying to limit access to healthcare, stopping us from using a restroom that aligns with our gender identity, or preventing us from changing our gender on our drivers’ license, the message that these actions are sending is, essentially, being transgender is wrong and we will make your life as difficult as possible.
Your feedback, comments, and emails were, and are always enlightening. I read every single one. My website will always bounce back and forth between superficial posts about how much I love lingerie, self-indulgent pictures from a photo shoot, and the scary laws that are being discussed every single day.
I hope you find what I write about helpful or entertaining. We have a small but passionate community and I hope your comments will always be supportive and constructive.
Okay, let’s move on.
At one point in my life I was secretly trying on my sister’s dress and quickly putting it back as soon as I could before it was noticed to be missing.
At another point in my life I was discreetly wandering through the lingerie department of stores hoping no would notice that I was casually, but intently, looking at panties.
Fast forward a few years, I walked into an LGBTQIA+ nightclub, completely en femme for the first time, absolutely terrified that someone would recognize me.
There are countless instances when I prayed I wouldn’t be seen. I lived a life in secret, even when I was out in the real world. I was ignored, I was stared at, I was ridiculed, I was whispered about.
I felt like an outsider. It was lonely. No one, for good or for bad, paid attention to me.
I never set out to be anyone but myself, even without the support (and least of all the approval) of the rest of the world. I felt if the world didn’t understand me, then at least the world could leave me alone. It was, on some level, a silent compromise.
As time marched on, people like myself started to get noticed. This happened in devastating extremes. On one hand, I learned there were others like myself. I felt less alone. At the same time, other people learned of our existence, if you will. And that brought a world of problems.
People like myself were labeled as deviants and perverts. We were thought of as being confused and delusional. We were thought of as being worse things than these.
We were dragged (or perhaps kicking and screaming) into the spotlight. We became a joke, we became a lightning rod for controversary. We became political. We became a fetish. Politicians and talk-show hosts shaped the narrative of who a trans person is. We were pulled out of the shadows and we blinked back tears of frustration and rage of being told that we were freaks.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Queer people had to become activists. We had to become advocates. We had to fight for ourselves and for those who couldn’t. We had to defend ourselves. We had to go on television, we had to write into newspapers, we had to demonstrate. We needed to fight for our survival.
Trans people didn’t make gender identity political. It was thrust upon us. At one point many of us were just living our own private lives and although lonely, we weren’t being attacked on the evening news.
In recent years trans people have becomes more visible and more represented. We have a voice though it is often drowned out. We have more support and tolerance than I could have dreamed, but we also have more people who wish us (and do) harm than ever before.
I know it’s not realistic for EVERYONE to like EVERYONE. I know that gender identity is a difficult thing to understand. But I don’t want to be understood. I don’t need to be. I don’t expect to be. I don’t expect or need to understand anyone else, either. What most people do or think is none of my business, after all.
I don’t want to be an activist. But I think I have to be. I would rather write about panties and lingerie and clothes. I write about legislation and social issues because this is the world that our community lives in. I get a lot of emails asking why the world doesn’t accept us. It’s pretty easy to find the answer when you realize that people like us are demonized and sexualized. Other emails ask why there aren’t many “crossdresser friendly” stores. Again, the answer is clear when you think about how many people are told to be terrified of trans people using the restroom. So many of these emails want the world to be safe for us, they want to world to change.
In order for something to change on a social level, it needs to change on a legal, political level.
Look, as much as I want to write about shopping and dresses and as badly as I want for all of us to be able to wear whatever we want, we need to acknowledge where we are and how we are viewed by much of the world.
If we want to wear what we want, if we want to go out en femme, if we want the world to not care about our gender identity, then we HAVE to fight back against the narrative that is being espoused. We can’t let laws that discriminate us get passed. These laws lead people to believe that we are, well, perverts and confused.
I want us all to go the mall without anyone staring at us. I want us all to step into the ladies room to reapply our lipstick without worrying about the panic politicians ignite about trans women in restrooms. I want people to stop thinking about sex and genitals when it comes to gender.
This world is not going to change soon. Not in my lifetime. But the world is not going to change without our help, without our insistence.
This change doesn’t necessarily come from making a sign and demonstrating. It can come from something as small as voting. It can come from being simply being visible. When I run errands en femme I am not an activist in the traditional sense. It’s more subtle. Hopefully I can change the perspective of a cashier or someone at Starbucks that trans people not only exist but we are a lot more boring and normal than they were led to believe. If I can do that, perhaps they will reconsider their opinion about girls like us.
Of course, that is overly optimistic but I could use some optimism these days.
8 thoughts on “How to Change the World”
Just want to mention that this coming Sunday (March 27th) there will be many celebrations of International Transgender Day of Visibility (I think the official day is 3/31, but that would be a Thursday, so…). If you’re in the New York City area there’s a big to-do scheduled from noon to 6 PM at Marsha P. Johnson State Park (aka East River State Park). (Marsha was a trans pioneer, and a prominent figure in the Stonewall uprising, which as you probably know was actually more about trans women than gays per se.) Lots of events all over the place as well, so if you’re NOT in Brooklyn on Sunday, for some reason, you might find something similar closer to home.
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I agree so much needs to be done in the area of accepting of who we are.
Myself being a conservative Christian, well I think most of you know that that brings up so many other problems with being trans, and you would be correct
We as a group no matter where we fall in our thoughts and beliefs must work together to show everyone we are not someone to be shoved aside, ridiculed just because we are different
I don’t always like this comparison but it is like the civil rights movement for racial equality in the 50s and 60s
So much unnecessary hatred and violence that happened then.
We are not a threat but so many feel we are.
I just want to be me and love others not only like me but open myself up to those who are not trans and let them see we are just people
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I totally agree with everything you have said. I find myself wanting the same things as you [and most of us, if we are honest] . This sums it up best and it is really quite simple: Matthew 7:12. . .The Golden Rule…
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Well said post. Keep being you. Wearing a cute dress and lovely lingerie doesn’t matter if you get arrested or physically attacked for needing to pee. I do think that our visibility will help to improve things. I am a Pollyanna though.:)
I left a reply and it didn’t go through…Why? Did you block me?
At the tender, young ages of school children, they don’t know their minds yet and cannot be expected to know what they really, truly are yet! This is why people have eventually regretted their action and de-transitioned.
Bathroom – if a person looks good enough like that particular sex to be in the opposite bathroom, unless they are there to do harm to others, it is okay. If a person looks like a man, and it is obvious to every woman in that bathroom, he shouldn’t be in there. Vice versa for a man’s bathroom.
Jonathon, regarding young children – I would argue that in some cases there are undeniable signs of exactly who they are. They do know. Early action before the onset of puberty would give them a much better chance of living a reasonably normal life – I wish that my parents had made that choice.
People do de-transition. Did they decide to transition on their own in the first place? If so, that is their life decision for whatever the reason. Couldn’t live in a world of haters? Found religion? Found themselves? All valid I guess.
You have a somewhat enlightened view on restrooms – and kudos to you for that – but not every trans person looks 100% male or female. What do they do? Where do they go? 😉 Who will judge them? Judge not! I personally have no problem sharing restrooms with any human being as I am simply there to do my business and then leave. I do favor gender-neutral, single stall restrooms though. We need more of them.
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Jonathon, I wish you were correct.I wish life was simple and clear cut. It would be easier to understand.
But for whatever reason it just isn’t.
It would be simpler to ask children who felt trans to wait until they were eighteen or twenty one before seeking medical intervention. But puberty makes permanent, yes Jonathan, permanent changes which surely you would agree would be very distressing to those involved.
What to do?
I’d suggest two things, educate society to this and a lot of other dilemmas, and secondly, use the expertise of medical professionals to provide timely assistance to those who need it.
No, it isn’t as simple a solution as banning trans youth, dammit Jonathan, all trans people from existing, but life is just like that and we have to work with it as we find it.
If you have a better suggestion I’ll listen.
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Hi Hannah, I am trusting you with my opinions on what topics you might consider for your future blogs. Do with them as you please but they are not for publication in my name. As I have made comment before, I am in favour of you covering serious problems faced by the trans community and the political side of these issues. I am also worried that some trans folk may be doing themselves and all of us a disservice by taking a very assertive, f.u. line of argument. “It’s our right” type of argument that to me is just as disappointing to hear as the shrill hatred of those who would prefer to see us all dead. I am sure it is not hatred, nor even stupidity that drives shrillness, but fear. One side is afraid that trans people are a moral threat to humanity. On the other, that those people are a threat to trans existence. Yet, you may remember in some of my recent comments, trying to take a clear but considered response to some quite extreme anti trans views, one contributor accepted my comments as reasonable. I do believe we have to be more effective in response to public hatred than matching their hatred with our own. I note that you refrain from gutter and hateful comments. It is a case of when they go low we go high. And I know I’m suggesting you take on (gently) one hell of a big issue, but I think you’re up to it. And interspersed with lighter offerings on panties and pictures, it won’t scare the horses too much. I get the feeling your followers are quite loyal, so I doubt many will unsubscribe. You might even invite followers to say how they’d respond to particular negative views or opinion, encouraging them to “go high” On other topics I’m fascinated with how you and your wife understand and accommodate your gender presentation, and just as importantly, how you accommodate her’s. I’m also aware of the risks this may pose to your privacies. Finally, I’m not the only one who has suggested a book. I wasn’t joking. Whether it was a book of your thoughts, or an anthology of writings by the trans community or topics raised through your site I think it could work. Thank you for your work to support trans people. Kindest regards, Geraldine O’Brien