Have you ever been in a conversation with someone where they insist that a mutual friend is gay or trans, based on how they dress or how they talk? No matter what the discussed person says about their own sexuality or gender identity, these LGBTQ detectives will site compiled instances of seemingly gay or trans behavior. They will collect evidence with all the fervor of Regency era gossip mavens and present it all as gospel. And what do you say this person? It’s not like they are accusing someone of doing anything wrong, but why are they so deeply invested in sorting out someone else’s personal journey? Is it more important for them to be right than for that other person to come to whatever conclusions they will come to in their own time, in their own way? What good can come from saying to a third party, “Come on…Joe is obviously really a Jane….”
Stereotyping is not something that is just done by the Cis-gendered, straight population. For whatever reason, we are all guilty of jumping to conclusions about other people before all the facts are in, and before those individuals reveal their personal truths in a way that they feel comfortable. It’s understandable to suspect that a person may be struggling with issues regarding gender identity and sexuality, especially if you are close to the party in question. It is quite another thing to throw around those suspicions as facts to anybody that will listen. Aside from the fact that it is a highly personal subject, and that it is no one else’s business, you may be impeding that person’s progress towards happiness.
Similarly, to pigeonhole a transgender person into tiny categories provided by traditional societal gender norms is to deny all the progress made towards acceptance of each person as an individual. To every baby born and identified as female that does not have any interest in the color pink, or wearing makeup and/or dresses, there are at least that many bouncing baby boys that would love to play with Barbie or cook with Mom or wear that color pink and these kids should be allowed those freedoms because to do otherwise is frankly ridiculous! Shouldn’t the trans community have the same rights to individuality that everyone else does? Frankly, its insulting to expect every transgender female adhere the levels of feminine perfection that Laverne Cox has achieved. Let’s be real, girlfriend is fabulous, but surely there are just as many transgender ladies out there that dress like soccer moms at the grocery store? Isn’t the expectation of that extreme seeming femininity a burden not just to the trans community but to all women? Why do we, as a community, feel the need to place people in boxes labeled “butch” or “fem”?
What of all the individuals that consider themselves transgender that are enrolled or enlisted in the military? Despite the efforts of the current administration to shut the trans community out of openly serving after the repeal of the “Don’t Ask Don’t tell” policy, our numbers for military participation and support are at an all time high! This would certainly put to bed the idea that the ladies like the ones portrayed in the movie “To Wang Foo…” are the only standard by which transgender women can be presented. There is an expression in the armed forces, “We all bleed red, white, and blue”. Surely, this includes those of us who don’t appear as convenient stereotypes.
Who among us is qualified to tell another person what kind of man, woman, or non-binary individual they should be? When one of us tells another, “Honey, what are you wearing? No self-respecting (insert gay/lesbian/trans moniker) would be caught wearing, saying, or doing that!”, aren’t we doing the same thing that a closed-minded society has been doing for generations? Telling a person how to be…which in fact invalidates the simplest of choices…what to wear, how to arrange our makeup, who we can be friends with…. we are more than these things, surely, but we have a right to them in order to be really authentic in this short life we live.
Progress has been made to take the transgender experiences being depicted in TV and movies in a direction that is more realistic. The prostitute, drug addict victim has been edged out by the super-cool, ultra-intelligent, perfectly coiffed best friend. Somewhere in the vast space between those extremes is reality. That everyone has a right to their differences, their likes and dislikes, their good hair days and bad hair days. Acknowledging those differences makes it possible to build deeper connections to each other based on substance. THAT is the true human experience.