I remember the first time I ever went to lunch as Denise with some of my cis-gendered girl friends. We’d gotten to know each other in a whole entirely different kind of group and unlike the majority of people today, they knew me both before and after I’d come out as a transwoman.
I really didn’t want to go. I was certain everybody in the crowded place was staring at me. And when they caught on that one man was staring and snickering, I thought they were all going to march over to his table and rearrange his nose.
Even if the statistics are better than 1 in 10,000 for MtF and 1 in 30,000 for FtM folks, we all just aren’t enough to impact society at large in matters of health and justice. Sure, get us all together in one place and include all the gender-variant people, not just transsexuals, it’s pretty amazing. But separately and outside a metro area, transitioning can be a lonely business.
I had visions of restaurant management calling the police to break up a melee. Thankfully the yahoo in question wilted in the stares of a handful of angry women directed right back at him. But I need to know other people have my back. Every trans person (and for that matter, all LGBTQI folks) need neighbors like ours next door. I walked past the end of their driveway last night at dusk. M. and P. stopped searching for where they stashed their reusable shopping bags long enough to shoot the breeze with me. They only call me Denise, they refer to me with correct pronouns and they are pulling for me to find work. Wonderful neighbors.
I’ve given up on family in my corner in large part. I’m luckier than some in that I even have a family left. But into the emptiness comes a terrific variety of people who often don’t understand all this transgender business and aren’t overly concerned. They actually like Denise. They like this sober Denise. When I talk to them about jobs, discrimination, access to public facilities, they listen. Nobody recoils in horror at the thought I really do need to use female restrooms. And I believe they speak up even when I’m not around.
I wouldn’t be half as brave as I am without somebody in my corner.
PS: I believe this is also true of the entire LGBTQI community. I need and expect LGB people to stick up for me and I stick up for them. Enough division already. And we all have allies who support us. That’s the only way we’ll win the marriage equality battle in Minnesota.