Covert Operatives

| Jun 16, 2008
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Stephanie Yates

June is the time of year for GLBT Pride Day rallies and as regularly as the heat and humidity return so do cries for better “T” representation at these—and other public—events. The logic is that we’ll never be accepted by the public if we just hide ourselves; we need to raise the visibility of the transgendered. Indeed this is a valid point: how will the trans/ambigendered ever gain tolerance in society if all we do is to stay to ourselves, chat and post pictures on the Internet? But there is an

equally valid counterpoint too: there are those CD/TG/AG individuals who are in situations where public displays of transgendered behavior would be disastrous or at least traumatic. And what purpose does it serve our cause to leave behind destroyed families, marriages and careers simply for the nominal contribution of appearing at a GLBT Pride Rally? And sometimes this leads to tensions within our community between the activist Outies and the more sequestered Innies.

I think there is a middle ground, though (yes, I ALWAYS think there is a middle ground). It’s a good and courageous contribution for TG/CD/AGs to show the flag at Pride Day rallies and their point is valid. Of course, you might end up doing more harm than good depending on your behavior, but the point is well taken that society will never accept us publicly unless we’re out there in public. But there are other constructive steps we can all take that don’t involve making that public statement of “say it loud, I’m TG and proud.”

It might help advance the cause of TG tolerance if we all took a stand against slurs, whether openly stated or veiled as humor, against the entire GLBT spectrum. It doesn’t take too much risk to tell someone making derogatory comments that you find them distasteful. Or that you have some friends/relatives/acquaintances (hey, it’s the truth, or you wouldn’t be reading this) who are “that way” and that they are pretty decent folks. It takes a little courage, but it’s pretty risk free and it might help create a climate where others will join in with you. At least, it might create an atmosphere where negative stereotypes of us are harder to perpetuate.

You could support a group that works for tolerance. There are a lot of them out there, locally and nationally. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) has a transgender branch that provides grassroots opportunities to support our common cause. There are more oblique approaches, too. One of my favorites is the Southern Poverty Law Center which works to monitor and combat—sometimes quite aggressively in court—hate groups, and to expose injustices of all sorts, including acts of hate against GLBT individuals. I mean you can even do this through your preferred religious organization—most of them have some way that you can spread the message of “love your neighbor” regardless of your differences.

You could support politicians who take a positive stance on GLBT issues. If your political priorities preclude that, then you could make an effort to make it known that you don’t appreciate your favorite politician or his supporters using stereotyping and demonization as political ploys. You could try to live in such a way that you exhibit tolerance and open mindedness in your views. Today’s world seems to encourage rabid, polarizing hyperbole as the norm for public discourse. You could reject that and attempt to express your views rationally, sensibly and without rancor toward those who hold opposing opinions.

There are bound to be hundreds of other ways to contribute to our common cause that don’t involve making a public display. I’m thankful that there are those who are either in a position to do so, or who are simply courageous enough to take the risk. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. But the rest of us, who, for whatever reason—real or imagined, cannot or will not make a public statement of who we are, it is our obligation to find some way to make a contribution, too. And here I agree with my Outie sisters; if we Innies aren’t willing to do anything, then we should stop whining about society’s lack of acceptance. Ultimately, if we’re to change society’s view of us, we all have to be involved in this struggle in some way: even if some of us serve as the point of the attack while others of us are more covert operatives or simply lend support from behind the front lines. The bottom line: promote tolerance of differences and open mindedness and humanitarianism and you are promoting the cause of the trans/ambigendered, you are promoting the cause of you and me.

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Category: Transgender Opinion

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  1. says:

    It is difficult being T-anything! Look at what occurred when Susan Stanton was outed! She was used to dealing with Politics and had talked in front of many at her job! She was eaten alive! Even by us Trans folk, including me, as per her email to me. I would doubt She would ever take an active roll again! Being an activist is very difficult! Even though there is Protection in New Jersey for being a T, The company will just find some ( Or mostly make them up)other non gender related reasons to get rid of you! The State of New Jersey found a way to git rid of one of the most well know therapist in NJ (Aviva Nuble) she is now in Las Vegas Not NJ! A lot of her patients have not found another therapist! NO one made any fuss! The largest study of T people in NYC, NJ, and other areas around NYC will be soon ending! No more funding! Yes, we need to be public! We do not need Jerry Springer T’s to be the only T’s that are seen by normal people! We need an ad agency that will sell us as normal regular people to John & Jane Q. Public. Any Pro-Bono ad agency’s that will help us?

  2. says:

    That last bit wasn’t direct at you Steph, btw. I know you’re out to your wife and all.

    Also, apologies for the typos…typing too fast. The important one is in the first sentence of the last paragraph…”even” should be “event”.

  3. says:

    I agree that these are all good things. Similarly, though, there’s no rule that says you can’t attend a Pride en homme. And if a visit to a Pride gathering would leave behind ravaged families, marriages, and careers all on its own…well we live in bad times, then. Seriously, it’s a rather innocuous even to be generating that kind of sturm and drang.

    And if you’re not out to even your wife – ostensibly the only person who would even need to know about your attendance at such a rally – then pride seems like a bit of misnomer.

  4. ronnierho ronnierho says:

    Here, here! As much as I talk a big game, I’m not completely out. But every year, that closet door gets opened a little bit more. And every year, it gets a bit easier.

    And hyperbole isn’t just limited to political discourse on talk radio. I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes practice it, as a means of hopefully inspiring someone else to edge a bit closer to getting active.

    Great post!