This is a special guest post by my friend Blake. I was going to put it on the “Your Stories” page, but decided that this piece deserves front page treatment. So I turn it over to him:
As a queer transgender male, I am familiar with transphobia and homophobia. Morgan Freeman has said, “Homophobia isn’t a phobia, you aren’t scared, you’re just an asshole.” As a trans guy, I fight discrimination constantly in a transphobic world. Often it stems from people not understanding. Often people say that I am a woman. I was born a woman. I have female genitalia. Insurance refuses to pay for my therapy although I have gender identity disorder, which is when your designated sex at birth (DSAB) does not match what you identify as. For me, regardless of what my DSAB is, I identify as a man. I am a man because I see myself as a man. It does not matter if I do not have male genitalia. It does not matter that I haven’t had surgery to remove my breasts.
Our definitions of male and female is even transphobic, written by cis people (people whose gender identity matches their DSAB.) Our definition of transgender is an umbrella term. There are females to males, called ftms, trans guys, trans boys, trans men, trans bois. That’s just for one part of the umbrella and the part I’m most educated with, because I’m a trans guy. I’ve used several terms when describing myself. There are the gender queers, people who identify as neither gender. There are the male to female. It’s all an umbrella term used to herd us into a group and say there, that’s trans people. My own father has thought it is okay to call his son (he still has a hard time seeing me as his son) a tranny and transvestite. If you point out that these are offensive terms, like calling a black person a nigger, they get very offended.
I’ve experienced homophobia as well, and the worst has been when it’s from members of the LGBTQQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Allies) community. Even that acronym, which has been so much better about including others, leaves members of the community out. What about the asexauls (people who are attracted to others, but do not want to have sex), the polyamorous (people who believe in open relationships)? What about the people in between? We are often left out.
My uncle is a gay man. When I came out as transgender, he told me you are not a man. You are just a very butch person. I was very hurt by this statement, because I know that my uncle faces discrimination every day. I thought he would be able to support me on my gender identity but he did not. He is a member of the LGBTQQA community. He is transphobic. He wanted nothing to do with it. I recently spent the weekend with my extended family. My uncle was there. He did not talk to me about it. No one talked to me about it. He did not call me Blake. My cousin picked me up from the airport and said, we know you’re a guy now, but we are not going to use your preferred gender pronouns (pgps) and we are not calling you Blake. Don’t get offended, but I have a ten-year-old and I don’t know how to explain it to her.
How was I to not be offended? The way she said, I don’t want to have to explain my cousin, it made me feel like I was sick, diseased, unwanted. It happens every time I’m in class and people see me as a woman. It happens when I date someone and they say things like, well, don’t have the surgery to make yourself match your identity. The common response I’ve heard has been, I don’t care if you are a guy, just don’t do anything to make that true physically. When I was recently in therapy, I pay for each session, well over one hundred dollars a session, because my insurance company refuses to pay, she is a transgender specialist. I pay for each hormone shot. If I was cis, I wouldn’t have to. In therapy she told me that it doesn’t matter what I look like. There is never an excuse to repeatedly misgender someone. Instead of dating now, I stay single because there is always a condition placed on me and my transition.
When I came out to my grandparents, my Grandma said, well your birth certificate says you’re a female. I laughed and said it also says that I was six pounds. A lot has changed. I usually have humorous retorts. I have been known to get sassy. But there is never a reason to repeatedly misgender someone. There is never a reason to repeatedly use the wrong pgp’s or preferred names.
The world is transphobic. We’re homophobic. It happens every day. I can be fired in the state of North Carolina for being queer and trans. There is violence in the world. Every November there is Transgender Day of Remembrance, TDOR, because we are being murdered. People are shocked when they find out. This is the twenty-first century; surely we don’t murder people because they have a partner or because they started out as a woman and became a man. It does happen. We don’t talk about it. Statements like I don’t care what you identify as, but I’m not going to respect you because I don’t know how to talk about it or understand it, need to stop. Ultimately, if you cannot respect my gender, you can’t respect me, because it comes down to so many different aspects of my life.
I fight it every single day. I’m sick of fighting. I just want to live my life as a simple man and not have it be a big deal. I want to love someone without the fear that they will leave me, like everyone else has, for a cisgender person. Hatred of any kind needs to stop being tolerated.
– Blake Croissant