|Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on May 11, 2016 at 12:00 AM|
I really do try to keep from going on all political on my author page. Part of it is it to keep my public persona free from some of the drama. But sometimes, I have to speak up.
I’ve seen a number of posts (some by people I love) ridiculing the North Carolina bathroom bill (HB2) controversy. I can accept (sort of) people who support the law (I don’t understand it, I don’t agree with it, but I can accept people will have different views than my own). What I cannot accept is willful ignorance.
There is a difference between being transgender, a transvestite, or even gender non-conforming. Someone who is transgender is not Klinger from M.A.S.H. He was a man trying to find a way out of his military service by dressing as a woman. Many of the contestants on Ru Paul’s Drag Race are transvestites (men who enjoy dressing as women), which is distinctly different than someone who is transgender. Someone who does not follow other people’s ideas or stereotypes about how they should look/dress/act based on the gender they were assigned at birth is gender non-conforming, they are not necessarily transgender.
So when I see an internet meme about how Klinger dressed as a woman but still used the men’s bathroom, or how our president is too busy catering to “men who want to wear a dress so they can use the women’s room” to combat the “real” issues (issues that center around racist BS…but that’s a rant for another day), it ticks me off. It’s willful ignorance.
The people who post these memes, who denigrate a population that they deliberately misunderstand and misrepresent, don’t understand the damage they are doing. For every “funny” picture ridiculing transgender people and their concerns, there is a kid out there struggling for understanding and acceptance. For every callous comment and paranoid rant equaling transgender bathroom rights to pedophilia, a child is one step closer to suicide.
Most of us will never understand what it is like to be born in a body that does not match who we are. I’m not talking about being born short with dreams of playing basketball. Or a size four mentality in a size fourteen body. I mean being born with a male soul, a male brain, and a male personality into a body with female genitalia. Most of us will never understand the struggle of living in the wrong body in a cisgender society with gender-specific expectations and roles.
If you don’t understand that sort of identity crisis, you’re lucky.
If you’ve never felt unsafe in a bathroom because people leer, ridicule, bully, or threaten you because of the way you dress, you’re lucky.
If your eight-year-old son doesn’t take a pair of nail clippers to his penis because it, and what it represents, is making him miserable enough that self-mutilation feels like the only option, you’re lucky.
But please, please, please remember—just because you’re lucky, doesn’t mean everyone else is. And some of those who are unlucky enough to face these trials need your support and understanding more than the internet needs another “funny” meme.
Here's a link to GLAAD's Transgender Resource page. It includes several links to educate people about transgender issues, and organizations and information to help transgender individuals.