Friday, July 12, 2013

Out in the Rain

Out in the Rain
Pride events tend to be a mixed bag for trans folk. I dare say that even though we generally are welcome “it is not our party.” Even though many of us may self-identify as LGB many in the LGB crowd have us pre-labeled with the “T”. Sometimes that “T” fits comfortably and others not so much.

For me the reality is over the last few years I find I occasionally want to be at arm’s length from some events and people. There are aspects of Pride that have always made me uncomfortable. I’ve never attended or participated in a Pride parade despite having probably been in nearly 100 parades in my youth (I was a self-identified marching “band fag”). And you would likely not find me within a tactical nuke of a high-heel race. And I do not participate in or watch drag, period. Never have, never will.

Recently there was a dust-up online about the folks that run the BET awards asking their host B. Scott not to wear heels and makeup during the awards. I would have thought they should have known about Scott in advance. Scott, who identifies as a gay male, regularly appears in public “en femme”. What surprised and irked some was the headline on the matter which read “Trans Media Maven B. Scott…” (

In recent years the term transgender has been morphed to trans or trans* as a way of pleasing those who do not identify as transgender. I know that just sounded oxymoronic to some of you but many who identify as “transsexual” are not comfortable being lumped under the transgender “umbrella”. So asking B. Scott to “represent” for persons like me is problematic. Is he transgender? Indeed, by the accepted definition he is. Do I want him, or Ru Paul, as a role model and person whom others equate with me and who I am? No. No more than I want any other gay man to do so.

My dear friend Diego Sanchez, fellow trans person and former staffer for Rep. Barney Frank, shared the following wisdom with me: 
“While transgender is an umbrella term used to describe an extensive variety of people, I believe you will find that many transsexuals prefer to be out in the rain rather than under the umbrella.”

You see that umbrella covers drag queens / kings, crossdressers, transsexual, and many other gender-variant people. Not all are happy living under that framework. transsexuals in particular have issues with such things. Let’s presume the following: You are a male-assigned person who identifies as female. You may have gone to some effort to effect that change be it medication, hair removal, and/or possibly various surgeries. You have likely changed your name, your documentation, and your general appearance to get to a place of comfort. You may have a partner or spouse who also sees you as a woman,regardless of your orientation. You live life as a woman. So, are you still transgender, or just a woman? I would say arguably you might not be trans anymore. Congratulations you are “cured”.

Many trans folk who get to that place would rather stand in the rain than under the umbrella – the rain being the world outside the “T” or even the LGBT community. What is interesting is the schism that results from that mindset. Some trans persons go “stealth,” blending into the woodwork and living lives where they have little interaction with other “Ts”. And the “why” is confusing to many. The problem: public perception. You see the media and many in the LGB universe, tend to go for the extremes, and this is the perception of what transgender means in homophobic America. Not those of us who live in the mainstream world. Those “part-time” persons create a distorted set of assumptions about the rest of us.

Why does this stuff rub some many transsexual persons so wrong? Partly because for those of us who identify as such you will find that on Monday morning going to work or school we will look, act, and be attired as the same person we were on Saturday night. And when you are one of the other categories you have the option to fall back to your “regular” gay, straight, and/or gender conforming persona and that cultural safety net, no matter how small, is still there for you. For those who have transitioned not so much. Who and what you are is ever-present, often even with a casual glance by others whether or not you have an umbrella overhead. Oh look, it’s raining again.
As published in Baltimore OUTloud

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