Most of us who come out aren’t doing so because we wish to entertain others, because we crave attention, or because we wish to promote publication of a memoir. Most of us come out after significant personal struggle and a whole lot of soul searching. And sometimes, in the aftermath of a whole lot of damage.
We transsexuals hate our bodies as constituted. Some of us wish to melt into the background to live our lives according to the programming of our minds, rather by the expectations society dictates based on what is between our legs. I’ve been there, I’m still there.
Yet, there is another element, and that is rights, the right to exist as equals in society. Some transsexuals, not all, but some of us are part of the lgbt community. I’m a queer woman, I’m a feminist, and in outlook, I wish to push for rights from both directions. That wish does not make one stealth. And for me, who incurred a serious meltdown with legal consequences, I made it into the public eye in the worst possible way. Not that I complain; it was my fault, and my responsibility.
With that background, I read Renée Richards Wants to be Left Alone by Michael Weinreb on Grantland. There are elements of the story with which I quibble, but on balance it is a thoughtful piece that does more than most articles on a trannie might. I like that she treats Renée with dignity. I understand why she questions Renée’s vacillation; I’ve disagreed with her on how she views trannies competing in sports. I suspect that is more a function of age in relation to the era in which she grew up, than anything else. The fact is, such outlook shortchanges women athletes, who have come a long, long way since the 1970s. If hypothetically someone transitioned (a ridiculous idea) in order to ‘dominate’ the women’s tour, they had better be damn good on the men’s tour.
What bothered me about Michael’s story was the constant need to frame transitions in terms of ‘person x was person y!’ instead of just giving their name, which represents their rightful identity. Um, people… we aren’t male or female and suddenly, poof! female or male – we are the correct gender at birth. It is our body, our physical self, that is wrong and gets corrected. I was never male; I just had to deal with a fool male body.
Which brings me back around to public and private. We get caught in societal currents. We wish to go live our lives, to blend in, to just be and move on, but we have all these people out there saying gays are sinners, gays are perverts, trannies wish to raid bathrooms and all manner of crazy arguments. I don’t know about anyone else, nor will I speak for anyone else, but I can’t sit back and keep my mouth shut, it isn’t my nature, even if I wish people to accept me for who I am. I’ve done the wrong thing, and believe me, doing the right thing is the path I wish to walk, always.
Read the story. It is lengthy, but it is also a good read, and an important read. Kick it around, let it marinade in your mind. Think on how it would be for you if you faced this issue. Think about how you would react tomorrow morning if you woke and found your bits swapped for male if female or the reverse if male. Would you roll over and go back to sleep? Would you get up, say ‘oh well’ and go shower, then head for work? And since we both know that answer, when you get slighted, when you get put down, when someone threatens to beat you up, shut you out of restrooms, tell you you are a sinner because of who you are and not because of your actions (me) then decide whether the path Renée walked is one you would avoid, that you would sit on your hands and take whatever comes your way.