In the semi-conscious lucidity that one resides in just after awakening, I stared into the clouds of my morning coffee as I read a story that struck a chord in me... in a way that has me wondering how much of a civilized world we really live in.
Stories such as this really give me pause to wonder what type of world we live in that a person whose death as victim of a hate crime, can be simply sloughed off as being expected for being who they are. I suppose it doesn't matter if you are intelligent, compassionate, witty or a compassionate, empathetic or loving human being. I suppose what it seems that matters is more the package that the world sees visually.
From my own personal experience, and from what I have seen first hand, is that we are at the least, silently laughed at or mocked and at worst, victims of hate crimes. Fear and ignorance play a large part in all of this. What is different is to be scorned, laughed at and, if possible, intimidated enough so that one effectively removes oneself from society.
There was a great... absolutely fantastic Twilight Zone Episode back from the 1960's, that materialized these concepts and brought them to light. Rod Serling's genius in telling the story was remarkable for its era and holds so very true today.
A short clip, which you may remember, is here.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97NwfdoFPNU&feature=related
Start at the 2 minute mark as this cuts to the point of the entire episode.
In the episode, there is one very memorable quote that strikes true, hidden as it may seem at the surface, within our own society.... "We must cut out all that is different, like a cancerous filth". In our society, we allow that to happen of it's own in such a way that society, as a whole, does not take the blame. We see trans persons being discriminated against being passed up for jobs, denied insurance or health benefits, victims of crimes both of hate and daily through laughter and jeers when out.
I know that when I am out, I pass pretty well. Not very many people can pick off that I am trans. I seek to blend in quietly into society. But I also feel like I am hiding within it as well. I feel often when out in a crowd, like a sheep disguised as the wolf in a pack of wolves. I am always on guard and on my toes, visually and perceptually. I am careful of the environments I place myself, my actions and the perception of the responses I receive. When I am most comfortable with who I am, I run the risk of making the world around me less comfortable. In male mode, I am safe but I am at constant odds with my own being and with the facade of the person who the world is comfortable in seeing but for which causes me great anxiety both day and night... 365 days a year for 40+ years that I can recall.
Being gay or lesbian would be infinitely easier than being trans. At least no one can look at a person and in the course of 3 seconds, determine them to be who they are and react. Being trans is visible. If one does not convincingly pass as the gender they are presenting as, then it is akin to a person who is gay or lesbian, walking around with a sign pasted on them in bold letters, pronouncing to the world... "I am gay" or "I am a lesbian". And being transgender is even less understood because it is hidden.... hidden by those who would face the wraths of victimization, humiliation or the prejudices of society. And because so many hide to protect themselves, so many others in general society do not know or understand. It is a self-fulfilling vicious feedback cycle and one which feeds a conformist society.
Acknowledging that one is transgender is a very life changing and eye-opening realization. Knowing that one can not change who they are inside... at least truthfully to themselves, but perhaps as a facade we present to the world... knowing this...yields a person who must either blend in seamlessly and perfectly as the gender they feel inside they were born as... or face the possibilities and higher probabilities of a lifetime of prejudice and harassment by the society around them. Some are luckier, or more fortunate than others in these regards... but shouldn't there be justice in being free to present as who one feels one is? If there can be movements toward racial equality and equality for women through the women's movement in society, why cannot there not be the justice of equality for equal treatment and respect for those who identify as being transgender?
I'm off to get another cup of coffee....I'd prefer it, as I would my life, to be without clouds....
FYI - The original news story of this tragedy from the Washington Blade, is linked here....