How many people have approached you about what the “transgender thing” is all about? It’s been interesting for me. I’d like to applaud Caitlyn Jenner for coming out at such a challenging, critical, time. Wouldn’t it have been nice if some noteworthy sports figures, and celebrities, had done the same for gay rights in the 70’s.
It seems that people expect us, as gay men, to understand the transgender journey. They’ve been seeing the acronym LGBT everywhere. To clear up any assumptions, I’m not an expert in the area. What I can understand is the struggle for transgendered rights. It is no different than any other human rights issue.
The L’s, G’s, B’s, and T’s in large urban centres don’t necessarily hang out. When I was growing up in Montreal, in the 70’s, we were all part of a queer community with a single struggle. Today we come together more to fight the good fight, or to celebrate our “acceptance”, than to socialize.
I left the Q out of the acronym for a reason. I believe that Queer represents the entirety of our community, even parts we may not know about yet. I use queer men to refer to anyone who is male and who is not 100% heterosexual. I include transgendered men in that group too.
Sexuality, and gender, are completely distinct things. A transgendered person’s attraction dynamics will not shift as they transition. Who that person is attracted to isn’t directly related to their gender identity. If I identified as a woman that wouldn’t change the fact that I’m attracted to men.
Neither sexuality, nor gender, are as simple as we’d like them to be. Many gay men firmly believe that there is no such thing as a bi-sexual man, that every bi man is simply a closeted gay one. Ridiculous! Sexuality is a continuum. Sure there are some people who are 100% oriented towards the opposite sex, and some towards the same one. If we lifted all the stigma, wouldn’t most of us fall somewhere in between those two extremes? I believe that gender is similar. It’s not as simple as male or female, and certainly not as simple as physical genitalia.
When people ask me if I understand what it means to be transgendered I have to say “Not really”. I have never looked in the mirror and felt like my penis, and other physical characteristics, don’t belong. Imagine how difficult that experience must be.
What I do know, with absolute certainty, is that being transgendered is real. I support anyone struggling to make peace with who they are. That’s what life is about folks. It’s time we stopped trying so hard to mainstream ourselves that we loose the fringes of Queer society. They are, and have always have been, the vanguard. We must support their charge forward. How else will broader society ever learn? How else does everyone become free?