I know it’s been a while since I wrote anything about being trans.
A lot of shit has been going on recently, especially since the new year started. But the past week or so has gotten me thinking, living life as both a man … and as a trans man.
I’m white, “cis-passing” and straight (i.e. attracted to women as a man), post-op. grew up Christian, pretty much I’ve attained all kinds of “privilege”. People assumed part of transitioning was to live my life fully as a man, as if to assimilate into the greater, mainstream culture. I changed my name (again) and medically transitioned to be “unambiguously” masculine, both socially and legally, to be able to assimilate when I feel unsafe to be out.
I face pressure from two major sides. The mainstream, more conservative side of society assumes that, having transitioned, I should assume the attitudes, views, and social role of another “average American white man”. As a man, since the day I came out and began living as one, of course I experience the same thing my brothers, cis or trans, does as a man. Yet as someone who’s transgender, there’s expectations and pressures from other minorities to continue the fight for others who are social and cultural minorities, to check any privilege (perceived or real) I do have at the door, to continue the conversation (so long as mine doesn’t trounce theirs), to cater to identity politics.
I walk a fine line between two worlds that rarely play well with each other anymore, a walk that too often takes a toll on my mental health. And it’s expected someone like me should build up a “coping bank” should I feel burn-out, to take breaks so I can continue “to fight the good fight”.
I’m not participating in any group function, peaceful or not, that’s meant to denounce the continuing inequalities in our culture. One is very much because of the covid pandemic, but the other is because I’m not a social person. I could go on and on the reasons why I don’t, but I’m not going to.
The news, especially with what’s going on in major cities, leaves me fearing my safety and life. I understand the criticisms of armchair activism (a.k.a. slactivism), and I know that most protests are actually peaceful. Pride events, which are usually celebratory, leave me drained after only a few hours—the added stresses a protest incur would only burn me out sooner, leaving me ineffective.
The mountains I live in allow me to shelter myself, to take refuge, from the growing craziness the outside world experiences, while the Internet allows me to continue monitoring when I am able to glance. That’s not privilege—that’s self-care.
I don’t like big shows. How am I trying to change others’ minds? I talk to people. I am willing to put up with language that isn’t PC or the preferred terms by minorities (with certain exceptions, of course). I don’t immediately label anything as “racist”, “sexist”/”misogynistic” , “transphobic”/”transmisogynistic”, “homophobic”/”biphobic”/”lesbophobic”, whatever—that immediately shuts down any chance of conversation, and usually reinforces bias. And often doesn’t help. I hear them out, ask questions, and try to help them draw conclusions with their reasonings as to why it’s wrong, without trying to add in my own opinion.
I have opened minds. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Someday there will be a day that I can’t stay in the background, won’t be able to take refuge in these mountains. When that day comes, I may go out in the blaze of glory, I may go out with a bang.But you will hear me roar, and those against me, even that win, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.